Lisbon is the capital city of Portugal and counts over 500’000 inhabitants. The city is modern, very dynamic and full of treasures: historical buildings and friendly people contribute to a very special atmosphere. Lisbon is a melting pot of Latin and Mediterranean cultures. Portugal was the main gate for those explorers and merchants interested in discovering the new world: Africa and America. There are many monuments that still remind of a glorious past; just visit the Torre de Belém, the Monument of the Discoverers and the marvellous Hieronymite Monastery, a few miles from the centre of Lisbon.
Lisbon is the capital of Portugal since the twelfth century, it has over two millennia of history and it is the wealthiest region in Portugal. Its economy is based chiefly on the service industry. Headquarters of most multinational companies operating in the country can be found in Lisbon. It is a developing technological and financial center and it is the major seaport and one of the most sophisticated and largest regional markets in the Iberian Peninsula. Shoes, clothing, earthenware, china and textiles are among its leading industries. It has the most developed and largest mass media sector of Portugal and it houses media companies such as radio stations, television networks and major newspapers.
Lisbon was the site of the World Exposition of 1998 held from May 22 to September 30 in 1998. The theme of the Expo was “The Oceans, a Heritage for the Future”, it was chosen to help create a bond among countries to protect the oceans and each country’s relationship with water; and in a way it was also chosen to remember five hundred years of Portuguese discoveries spearheaded by Vasco da Gama and his arrival in India. One hundred fifty-five countries and organizations were represented in the Expo and it received approximately eleven million visitors in one hundred thirty-two days. The remnants of the Exposition after it has closed are now some of the most popular destinations in the city. The Parque das Nações or Nation’s Park is a commercial, residential and leisure area and it has the International Fair complex. Then you have the Vasco da Gama shopping mall, hotels, and new residential and office buildings. The Oceanarium which is one of the world’s largest aquariums, still remains from the expo and it continues to attract lots of visitors.
Sports play an important role in a Lisboan’s pastime. The most popular sport in Lisbon is football and it has major football clubs such as the Sporting Clube de Portugal, Belenenses and Sport Lisboa e Benfica. Basketball, indoor football, roller hockey and handball are among its other popular sports. Sports facilities spanning from golf to mountain-biking to athletics to sailing can also be found in Lisbon!
Aside from the usual sights, the air of Lisbon is filled with the sounds of its most popular music, the fado which is derived from the word fate. It is a melancholic type of music but it is not only about human sorrow. During the twentieth century, the mainstream fado performances included only a Portuguese guitar player, a classical guitar player and a singer. Nowadays, performances range from having a singer and string quartet to having a full orchestra as an accompaniment. Traditional fado today is mainly sung for tourists in fado houses with the traditional instruments. The main characteristic of the traditional fado is singing present and past sorrow with sadness but fado can also tell funny stories with ironies. Try to learn Portuguese to be able to understand a bit of these great songs:
Lisbon’s gastronomic specialties make it more interesting for you! Lamprey is a delicacy available only during the season when the fish swim up the Tagus River. It is an eel-like fish with a rich taste and it is prepared with rice and red wine. It is a delicious dish with an intense flavor. Aside from the lampreia, fresh seafood is abundant in Lisbon. Olives, cod cakes, cheese, sardines and dried ham are also part of Lisbon cuisine as well as grilled sandwiches, melons, baked apples and a variety of soups. Wine and coffee are also part of Lisbon fare. Try to speak some Portuguese to order these great meals.
Lisbon today as compared to what it was several decades ago has blossomed into a multicultural city. It is evolving and growing and it has become more sophisticated in some way due to its integration to the European Union. It is esteemed for its wonderful mix of traditional and modern elements and it is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. Visit Lisbon now and enjoy your stay!