Lisbon- The de-Facto Capital
Lisbon, the capital city of Portugal is one of the most popular tourist destinations throughout Europe. It is a global city with a booming economy, a rich culture and splendid architecture and is the hotbed of activities throughout the year. However, it is the only ‘capital’ city in the world that has never been granted the official capital status either by Statute or in written form.
The city, which is a place of political and economic significance since the 5th Century, lies on the confluence of the Atlantic Ocean and the Tagus river. This westernmost capital city of Europe enjoys a pleasing Mediterranean climate and is really beautiful.
1. History of Lisbon
A port city, Lisbon was known as a Olisippo, and has been a place of theological significance. Ruled by the oligarchs that supported Christianity and the Arabs who supported Islam, Lisbon has a rich cultural background. Factors like advances in technology and elimination of piracy brought forth prosperity into this port city and the city’s population has been increasing since then.
16th century could be referred as the Golden Era for the city, with increasing voyages and developing trade relations throughout the globe. A chief traders in spices, textiles and other materials, Lisbon commanded great respect in all European cities. However after skirmishes with Spain, the city started declining until it was reconquered by Napolean Bonaparte. The city has been the site of several revolutions and since World War II has been redeveloping itself, both culturally and financially. In 1994, it was declared as Europe’s Cultural Capital.
2. Nightlife of Lisbon
For many here, the day begins at sundown. Begin your evening at hip cafes in the Chiado area, head over to the Bairro Alto quarter of the cities for a relaxed dinner with an eclectic cuisine. Bars and pubs of Lisbon range from laid-back to hip to plain quirky. When it is 3 am head over to the Docks of Alcantara, home to several dance clubs. The best way to end the night is to dance while sipping on a cocktail in Op Art while watching the sun rise.
If you’re not into clubbing, Lisbon also provides you numerous centres for enjoying your night. If you have a taste for Classical music, missing the Culturgest would be a grave sin. The major concert arenas are MEO Center and Belem Cultural Center.
3. Safety in Lisbon
Lisbon is a safe city. However, as is the case with all cities, you have to be careful and take some basic precautions. Don’t carry all your money with you and don’t flash expensive items or cash while travelling. Stay careful while travelling in a metro and be aware of your belongings. It is unadvisable to travel alone in the night especially in old neighbourhoods like Bairro Alto. Do not take part in gambling, it is most probably a scam. Just keep your head straight and it will be fine.
4. Living Expenses in Lisbon
Through the years, the cost of living in Lisbon has increased. The per capita income of the residents of the city is also more by 40% than the average cities in the European Union.
The cost of renting a 3 bedroom apartment in city center is roughly 1,082 € (USD 1175) while the cost of a 3 bedroom apartment outside the metropolitan area is 663 € (USD 719). Buying a piece of land of size 100 square metres may cost you as much as 154,643 € (USD 167,865).
The tariffs of budget hotels are nearly 75 € (USD 82) per night. Luxurious hotels like the Pousada de Cascais while costing as much as 775 € (USD 841) per night provide numerous luxuries and facilities.
5. Cuisines of Lisbon
Being a port city for trading of spices and several exotic food ingredients, the cuisine of Lisbon is very unique and shares a resemblance with the Mediterranean cuisine. Major ingredients are piri-piri (Hot chilli peppers), black peppers and saffron. Potatoes are staple food and source of carbohydrates.
While visiting Lisbon, make sure you try these lip smacking delights: Pasteis de Belam is a unique kind of custard tart that is best enjoyed with coffee; Quijo the Serra is the staple cheese in the city and is enjoyed raw from Manteigaria Silvia; Bacalhau is salted cod that is really delicious and is best served at the Cassa de Bacalhau; the national dish of Portugal, Caldo Verde is a soulful soup that you have to taste preferably at Pateo de Alfama in evening.
6. Statistics of Lisbon
The most populous city of Portugal, Lisbon has an administrative area of nearly 100.1 square kilometers which is home to 545,245 citizens who are popularly called Lisboetas. The religions followed are mostly Christianity and Islam. Portuguese and English remain one of the most spoken languages in the city. Spanish is also spoken by some of the residents.
7. Public Transport in Lisbon
Lisbon can be discovered by tourists either by public means of transport that include buses, trams and a really efficient and extensive metro network. The most cost efficient method for travelling is by getting full day passes for metros and surface networks. It is recommended to travel the compact city centre afoot for the memorable experiences. If you’re visiting nearby islands, ferries are a great way to get around while enjoying the subtle beauty of this city.
Pollution in Lisbon: Efficient governance and diligent residents of the city take the cleanliness of the city and extermination of pollution with a war-like footing. Even if it is a huge metropolitan city the PM 2.5 level of the city is 30 ppm which is pretty healthy.
8. Weather of Lisbon
Lisbon enjoys the subtropical Mediterranean climate with mild winters and warm winters. The precipitation occurs mostly in winter while the summers are dry.
Summer: May to September. Average Low: 18°C; Average High: 27°C
Monsoon: September to December. Average Low: 15°C; Average High: 20°C
Winter: December to May. Average Low: 12°C; Average High: 20°C
9. Culture of Lisbon
The city of Lisbon has an exuberantly rich culture. Inspired by the Romanesque, the Gothic, Baroque and Modern movements, the architectural marvels in the city are breath-taking. The boulevards and the churches are beautiful. While you’re here, do visit the Avenue of Liberty and the Avenue of the Republic.
There are several great museums in the city, the most notable being Museu Nacionale de Artiga. Other great museums include Calouste Gulbenkian Museum and the Modern Art Museum.
The city is also home to a diverse range of cultural avenues and emphasizes on performing arts by providing platforms like the Opera House, Centro Cultural de Belem and several others.The Belem Tower and Jeronimos Monastery are listed UNESCO World Heritage Sites and surely are worth visiting.
10. Places to visit in Lisbon
Things to do in Lisbon: Contemplate in the Jeronimos Monastery, the resting place of the great explorer Vasco de Gama; Enjoy the ornate Belem Tower; Visit the St. George’s Castle;Head over to Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Berardo Museum and visit the Sao Roques Church; Enjoy your dinner in the Bairro Alto.
Things to do for Kids in Lisbon: Hop on the Hills Tramcar Tour; Enjoy the Hippotrip in the amphibious vehicle; Watch the puppets in Museu de Marioneta; Visit the Lisbon Zoo. You have to visit the Oceanaria de Lisbon,you’ll never forget the experience.
Museum and Galleries: Visit the Museu Nacionale de Artiga, no matter what. The city is home to several great museums that include Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, the Modern Art Museum, the Museum of Design and Fashion and several others. Theatres like the Lisbon Opera House should also be visited by the art enthusiasts.
Places Nearby: Visit Sintra, Europe’s westernmost point; Quelez is the perfect melting of French and Portuguese culture. Pay a visit to the grandest palace of Mafra which bankrupted the nation. Estoril, the place which served as inspiration for James Bond: Casino Royal should also be visited for its casinos and lush green lawns.
Offbeat Places: Shop at the Thieves Market, Tease is an offbeat bakery that is really splendid, visit Lisbon’s oldest neighbour Ajuda, Sip on a glass of ginjinha and stop by the Doll Hospital.
Author’s Conclusion: Lisbon is a city of halves. The city has both the grandeur of the classic times as well the growing industrialism of the modern times. The city is full architectural and cultural delights. Lisbon is a city worth visiting and I bet you will have a great time here.
|Currency||Euros (1 Euro= 1.02 USD as of 3rd March,2016)|
|Time Zone||WET (UTC+0) ; in Summers DST WEST (UTC+1)|
|Driving||Left hand drive, Right hand Traffic|
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