15 Facts to Know Before Your First Trip to Lisbon, Portugal

Today as we dive into one of our all-time favorite cities as you may have guessed from the title. This one’s about Lisbon the capital of Portugal might live in the shadow of other cities on the Iberian Peninsula. But its residents and visitors know full well the charms delights and attractions. Lisbon is the largest city in Portugal and its metropolitan area is home to 2.7 million people. Which is 27 percent of the entire country’s population? Basically meaning a quarter of the country’s population lives there.

Lisbon stands on the river Tagus a prime location that supported the nation’s amazing seafaring history. Crafted over many centuries, it sits cradled by hills with picture-postcard, panoramas, cobbled alleys, white-domed cathedrals, and ancient ruins. It’s a magnificent city and it seduces visitors into wishing they could stay forever. With that introduction out of the way here are 15 things you didn’t know about Lisbon.

1. Lisbon Is Europe 2Nd Oldest City

The oldest European capital is Athens, the capital of Greece Lisbon is next and generally accepted by experts to be four centuries older than Rome. The Italian capital with this kind of pedigree you can expect quality food, art, architecture and all the good stuff. We love the word Lisbon is from the term Alleles oboe which means safe harbor in Phoenicians. Which are strongly believed to be the first settlers and this seems to be an appropriate juncture?

2. Lisbon Has Never Been Officially Confirmed As Capital Of Portugal

Most of the world’s capital cities have been confirmed or declared in official documents. As you would expect this is not so in Lisbon’s case. It gained its status de facto when King Alfonso the third moved his court at 12:55. To what had become Portugal’s largest and most important city and people just went along with it. The lack of official status has certainly been made up for. Since Lisbon is now the capital of the district of Lisbon the capital of the region of Lisbon and also the capital of the metropolitan area of Lisbon. This might sound confusing but it’s really a workaround to get the same benefits. Without officially confirming it as the capital. We are not sure why really but hey the place is incredible.

3. Lisbon Is Incorrectly Called The City Of 7 Hills

Most people know that Rome is the city of seven hills but at least let us also call their city by the same name. This is technically inaccurate it is thought the nickname developed to make Lisbon sound as important as Rome. But the city is actually on eight Hills, the seven that counted toward the name are these ones interestingly graça the one omitted from the official list is the tallest.

4. The City Was Devastated By An Earthquake In 1755

Known as the great Lisbon earthquake it shook the ground at 10 a.m. on November 1st, 1755 for 8 minutes in three separate tremors. It was followed by a city engulfing tsunami and a devastating firestorm that lasted a week. They got hit with all three of them one after the other the city was decimated. The earthquake and its aftermath is the reason that the ancient capital is dominated by Pombaline architecture. Rather than a jumbled juxtaposition of everything from the Middle Ages onwards. Like the rest of Europe’s great cities. The posts quake architecture is some of the first seismically protected construction in Europe so it doesn’t happen again.

5. Lisbon Is Home To The World’s Most Expensive Chapel

Number 5 Lisbon is home to the world’s most expensive chapel from outside. The agreed had a sound rocky it is an austere Jesuit Church thought to be the earliest Jesuit church in Portugal and the Portuguese Empire. It was designed as an auditorium for preaching but it also contains a number of chapels. Most are built in the Baroque style that dominated the early 17th century. But the Chapel of Saint John the Baptist was built in the 18th century and is the most expensive Chapel in the world.

The thing is for some reason everyone agrees that it’s the most expensive one. But there isn’t any clear indication of the price because it’s not only the raw materials that make up the price point. It was designed and constructed in Rome using the most expensive materials. Including gold, silver, ivory, lapis, lazuli, and agate. In 1747 after had been blessed by the Pope it was deconstructed and shipped to Lisbon. Yes, they shipped an entire Chapel from one country to the other. A masterpiece of European art the chapel contains extraordinarily detailed mosaics.

6. The City Was Hotbed Of Spies In World War 2

Portugal remained neutral in the world war, however, Lisbon was known as the capital of espionage spies from opposing sides descended on the city. And misinformation was very much the name of the game. Ian Fleming the creator of James Bond was on duty for British naval intelligence in Lisbon. And that is well known that the seaside town of Astoria under half an hour away from the capital. Was the major inspiration for the world’s favorite secret agent during the war. Astoria was a casino town where Europe’s richest refugees gathered. Including the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and the Spanish royal family. It is no surprise that one of its best-kept secrets is known to very few.

7. The Recipe For The Pasties De Belem Is Known To Only 5 Men

Custard tarts or pasta Vanessa is extremely popular all over Portugal. But in Lisbon, they love a particular version of this pastry. They are so good they were once named in a list in The Guardian as the 15th most tasty delicacy in the world. The Lisbon version of the tarts was originally made by monks. But in 1834 when their Abbey was closed a sugar refinery bought the recipe from them. The refinery owners opened the fábrica de Paz – mm in 1837 and their descendants own the business to this day. The five men of the family are privy to the secret recipe and to protect it. They never travel on the same plane, take the same car or order the same dish at any restaurant. This is done in case something horrible happens at least one of them survives along with the secret recipe.

8. Lisbon Was The 1St City To Import Guinness

The records show that the first export out of Ireland of the world’s most famous stout outside of the United Kingdom was made to Lisbon in 1811. This is a big departure on the beverage front for a country known for its port and Vinho Verde.

9. Tram’s First Ran In Lisbon’s Street In 1873

Lisbon’s trams were first imported from the USA. So don’t be surprised if you see similarities between the cars that run in San Francisco and those on the rails in the capital. The grooved rails are called carries in Portuguese. And this is also the name of the public transport company that operates. The trams were originally called Americanos and today they are a huge favorite with visitors becoming as iconic as the city itself.

10. Lisbon’s Vasco Da Gama Bridge Is The Longest Bridge In Europe

Standing the Tongass River the Vasco de Gama bridge carries six traffic lanes and connects the north bank with the south bank. It was completed in 1998 and so named to coincide with the 500th anniversary of the Portuguese. Explorer’s discovery of the sea route from Europe to India. It is a cable slave bridge and has a length of seven point six miles which is twelve point three kilometers.

11. The Pestana Hotel Is Also A National Monument

You know a hotel offers supreme luxury when the likes of Madonna, David Beckham, and Prince have all been residence. But it isn’t just a lavish and elegant place to stay. The Pestana Hotel is a magnificent 19th century Palace and officially a national monument. How would you like to spend a night on a monument? Originally known as the palace of the Marquis Ivalice lore. It is the epitome of luxury thanks to a 10-year-long renovation.

There are four splendid Royal Suites but for a real treat, VIPs choose the Royal men. Well, one of the prettiest hotel suites in the world. It comes appointed with the original wooden floors, gilded walls and ceilings and French doors that open to wonderful views. That includes the 25th of April bridge in a word blind. Despite being incredibly expensive to get the premium package it didn’t make our list of the top ten most expensive hotels in the world.

12. Lisbon’s Iconic Landmark, The Torre De Belem, Was Once In A Jail

It has also been a customs house and a telegraph post and a lighthouse construction of the defensive tower. Guarding the entrance to the River Tagus began in 1514. Today it’s a UNESCO world heritage site and a monument of the Golden Age of discovery in which Portuguese explorers and seafarers practically ruled the wave

13. Lisbon’s Best Restaurant Is Belcanto

Fine dining is a hallmark of luxury lifestyle and the place for the well-heeled to be seen in Lisbon is del canto. A two Michelin star restaurant one of only three in the whole of Portugal. Chef Jose Alvarez serves up revisited Portuguese cuisine. Discerning palates and historic building in Lisbon Chiado district a tasting menu is priced at 145 euros. And includes intriguingly exotically named dishes. Such as the garden of the goose that laid the golden eggs dip in the sea and suckling pig revisited.

14. 1 Of Lisbon’s Major Attraction Is Only Open To The Public Once In A Year

The attraction in question is the gallery as Ramona’s or underground Roman galleries located in Rua de Prata in the downtown area. The porticoed crypt in the underground area is flooded for a good part of the year. And it can take up to a month to prepare the galleries for public access. They are opened for viewing for a few hours usually in September. And visitors can expect to queue up for three hours for access which in and of itself is quite. An adventure entrance is made via a hole in the middle of the street with traffic still moving around all the time.

15. Lisbon Is A City Of Record

Many capital cities can boast the biggest, longest, most expensive or oldest something. Lisbon lays claim to a few records we’ve already learned that the city has Europe’s longest bridge. But it also has a claim to the highest doge of the arch in the world. An OG arch is a gothic pointed arch and Lisbon’s record-breaker is the aqueduct o Aguas Libras. Which stands 213 feet or 65 meters high and 95 feet or 29 meters wide. The aqueduct is still in use carrying water to the ancient fountains of the city. These guys figured this out way before the rest of the world. So it’s a pretty big deal other Lisbon record-breakers include the Santa Engracia church. Which is in the Guinness Book of Records for having the longest construction time of all churches. Construction started in the 17th century and was completed in 1966.

Lisbon also owns the record for the world’s largest temporary stage which was constructed in the Benfica stadium to host the 2007 seven wonders of the world’s declaration. The record for the largest human national flag which was created in 2006 high 18,000 788 people in the National Stadium. And the record for the largest human logo formed part of Portugal’s successful bid to host the Euro 2004 soccer championship and involved 34,000 people. The city once held the record for the largest Mexican wave but their feet were surpassed by Japan.

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