Lisbon, Portugal

May 31, 2015  •  10 Comments

Last September I was fortunate enough to go to Portugal.   Portugal is located on the Iberian Peninsula and it is the westernmost country of mainland Europe.  As you can see in the map below, it is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west and south and Spain to the north and east.  Apart from continental Portugal, two other autonomous regions are the Azores and Madeira neither of which I visited.   The country is named after the second largest city, Porto (my favourite).  This land has been continually fought over since prehistoric times.  The Celts and Romans were followed by the Visigothic and the Suebi Germanic peoples who were themselves later invaded by the Moors.  These Muslims were eventually expelled and by 1139, Portugal established itself as a Kingdom.  In the 15th and 16th century, Portugal expanded western influence and established the first global empire becoming the world's major economic, political and military power.  The Portuguese Empire was the longest-lived of the modern European colonial empires, spanning almost 600 years.  The empire started in 1415 with the capture of Ceuta until 1999, when it handed over Macau to China  and the granting of sovereignty to East Timor in 2002.   The empire actually spread throughout a vast number of territories that are now part of 53 different sovereign states.  Because of this huge spread-out empire, Portugal left a profound cultural and architectural influence throughout the world.  In addition there are over 250 million people speaking Portuguese today, making Portuguese the sixth most spoken first language.  Portugal's international status was greatly reduced during the 19th century following the independence of Brazil.   The revolution in 1910 ended the monarchy and the democratic Portuguese First Republic was established.  However, this government was unstable and was superseded by the "Estado Novo" right-wing authoritarian regime.  Democracy  was restored after the Portuguese Colonial War and the Carnation Revolution in 1974.   Currently, Portugal is one of the world's most globalized, peaceful and responsive nations.   A few more interesting facts:  Portugal was one of the first countries  to abolish Capital Punishment in 1867.   In 2010 Portugal became the sixth country in Europe and the eighth country in the world to legally recognize same-sex marriage on the national level; and lastly Portugal was the first countries  in the world to fully decriminalize the use of all drugs in 2001.  If someone is found in the possession of a minimal amount of drugs, he or she is sent to a commission made up of a lawyer, social worker and doctor.  The commission recommends treatment or a minor fine, otherwise in the majority of the cases, there is no penalty.  Fourteen years later, it has been found that there have been many benefits from the new policy.

A map of Portugal.  I flew into Lisbon  where our tour spent a few days checking out the various neighbourhoods.


Chris, Gretchen and Sam posing in front of Rogerio Timoteo's statue "Rosto/The Face" made of resin and steel.  

20140920_Ecuador_000220140920_Ecuador_0002 After the earthquake of 1755, the Marquis of Pombal instructed architect Reinaldo Manuel to design a new garden promenade with flora, statues and fountains.  This promenade was known as the Passeio Publico (Public Way).  This promenade was far from public as only aristocrats were allowed access and a large wall prevented common people from entering.  The wall was torn down in 1821, after the fall of the monarchy.   In 1879, the promenade was renamed Avenida da Liberdade (Liberty Avenue) and was redesigned as a prestigious boulevard modelled on the Champs-Elysées in Paris.   The above statute is the Monument to the Fallen of the Great War.


A closeup of the Monumento aos Mortos da Grande Guerra Statue.  This large monument inaugurated in 1931, honors the Portuguese soldiers who fought in the First World War.


Our hotel was very close to Liberty Avenue.  I asked this policeman if it was ok if I took his photograph since in some countries, photographing policemen is disallowed.


There was a beautiful place to walk in the centre of the Avenue.  Liberty Avenue was surrounded by hotels, offices and upscale boutiques.


Some of the "boutiques" were not so upscale!

20140920_Ecuador_000820140920_Ecuador_0008    Lisbon, Portugal's hilly capitol is a coastal city known for its cafe culture, pastel-colored buildings  and soulful Fado music.    About 2.8  million people live in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area.   

20140923_Ecuador_012920140923_Ecuador_0129 Rossio  Square is the popular name of the Pedro IV Square( King of Portugal Square).  This has been one of the main squares since the Middle Ages.  Popular revolts and celebrations, bullfights and executions have all taken place here.  


Now it is a popular meeting stop for locals and tourists or for just hanging around.

20140920_Ecuador_001020140920_Ecuador_0010 A flower shop in the square.


We took a ride on the Santa Justa Lift (elevator) located in the historical section of Lisbon.  Since its construction, the lift has become a tourist attraction.  The lift has a height of 45 metres, covering seven stories.  After getting off the lift, there was a great lookout with panoramic views of the city.

Another view of Rossio square from above.

20140920_Ecuador_001320140920_Ecuador_0013 I noticed lots of construction going on everywhere.    Lisbon is recognized as a global city because of its importance in finance, commerce, media, entertainment, arts, international trade, education and tourism.  it is one of the major economic centres on the continent with a growing financial centre.  

20140920_Ecuador_001420140920_Ecuador_0014 The city is also one of the oldest cities in the world and the oldest in Western Europe, predating other modern European capitals such as London, Paris and Rome by centuries.  


20140920_Ecuador_001620140920_Ecuador_0016 The Lisbon tramway network has been in operation since 1873 and now has five urban lines.  In 1873, the tramway started off as a horsecar line and in 1901, Lisbon's first electric tramway started operations.  Within a year, all of the city's tramways had been converted to electric cars.  While walking the streets and hills of Lisbon, the colourful red or yellow tram cars added to the colour of the city.  These trolleys are a very popular mode of transportation for locals and tourists.  

20140920_Ecuador_001720140920_Ecuador_0017 We ended up walking down to the water where people were just hanging out in the beautiful weather.  Lisbon enjoys a Mediterranean climate.  Among the major cities in Europe, it has the warmest winters with average temperatures of 15 C (59 F) during the day from December to February. The typical summer season lasts about six months from May to October.


20140920_Ecuador_002120140920_Ecuador_0021 Next up:  More of Lisbon




Wow! I've been working my way backwards through your Portugal posts! Love all the information you have included as well as the great pictures! I'm going there in October but we probably will only spend a day or so -- so glad that you got to experience Lisbon even more!
Craig Sundby(non-registered)
I always learn so much from your posts Marsha. Definitely some interesting history there. Very enjoyable tour of Lisbon. Some great photos with a nice feeling of depth. Thanks for sharing.
Tricia Matheson(non-registered)
Great photos of a fine old city, but I especially loved your commentary. That they have decriminalized drugs, and that some benefits have ensued as a result is one item I found especially interesting. You have captured Lisbon's beauty.
Mary Ellen(non-registered)
Hi Marsha, Lovely to see your images of beautiful Lisbon. Your colour choices are yummy. It looks like amazing renovations have happened since I was last in Lisbon in 1990 - 25 years ago! Then, Lisbon - even the main square - felt more like the Old Havana we visited last year with lots of gentle pastel colours holding tight to the beautiful architecture they adorned.
Great pictures, Marsha. The one of Liberty Avenue with the reflection in the water is beautiful. I also really liked the panoramic pictures of Lisbon that you took after a ride in the lift.
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