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Where is Lisbon?
Lisbon, One of Europe's Best Cities
Lisbon is one of the gems of Europe--it's not yet overrun by tourists, and it offers excellent cultural experiences. It is rich with fascinating history, and has surprisingly reasonable prices for lodging, food, and attraction fees.
Lisbon is also only a thirty-minute train ride from some of the most fabulous castles in the world (in this writer's opinion), and has a beautiful shoreline with picturesque beaches.
Intrigued yet? Surprisingly, many people don't even know where this fabulous city is! Read on for more about Lisbon, including its best tourist attractions and cultural experiences.
Where is Lisbon Located?
Though most people would guess that Lisbon is in Spain, it's actually in Portugal--bordering Spain and the Atlantic Ocean. Lisbon is Portugal's capital and its largest city, in addition to being the oldest city in Western Europe (posited back to 1200 BC and the Phoenicians).
It was ruled by Julius Caesar and then the Moors before the Crusaders conquered it in 1147, and it went on to become one of the biggest economic powers in the world--for a time. During the famed Age of Discoveries, its explorers discovered Brazil (the reason that Brazilians speak Portuguese) and a much shorter route to India.
Castles in Lisbon, Portugal
For the traveler who loves castles, Lisbon will be a dream come true.
Within the city, a tourist can visit the Castle of Sao Jorge, dating back to the 10th century (though the location was originally home to even older fortifications). Though much of it was toppled in the Earthquake of 1755, the ruins remain and are a fascinating walk through time. Wondering why the streets up to the castle are so winding and seem to have no rhyme or reason? They were purposefully designed that way to confuse invaders!
For three castles within a half-hour hike, the traveler who loves castles will enjoy Sintra. This World Heritage Site is highlighted by the Pena Palace, a whimsical, pastel castle that looks over the city. Halfway down, brave the winding, narrow stairways of the 11th century Moorish Castle, getting unparalleled and breathtaking views of the lush countryside. In the city itself, the National Palace is a wonder with its ornate ceilings and blue-tiled Stag Room.
Along the Tagus River in Lisbon, Portugal
One of Lisbon's most impressive sights is the Jeronimos Monastery, near the Tagus River and completed in 1601 as a symbol of Portuguese expansionism and wealth. The ornate white Manueline building houses the grave of explorer Vasco da Gama, and the cloisters are a peaceful respite from the busy city itself (notice that all of the rainspouts are different animals).
On the shoreline of the Tagus River is Belem Tower, which was originally located in the middle of the river as a fortification and welcome to returning sailors (the Earthquake of 1755 changed the river's course). It was completed in 1519 and features the same Manueline architecture that makes so much of Lisbon a truly beautiful city.
Bonus tip: Near the Jeronimos Monastery is Pasteis de Belem, the famous pastry shop selling Portugal's national dessert, the pastel de nata (also called the pastel de belem). The little custard egg tart is delicious, and its said that the monks at the nearby monastery first created then. If you're not there early, prepare to stand in line for a while; sometimes the crowds spill out the door to get one of the little cinnamon-and-sugar sprinkled treats.
Other Tourist Activities in Lisbon, Portugal
My original stay in Lisbon lasted only four days, and I did not lack for activities to fill the hours! For a first-time visitor, I would also recommend:
- The Port Institute (hundreds of different kinds of ports)
- A stroll through the Alfama
- A night of fado (traditional Portuguese singing)
- Gulbenkian Museum
- A night out in the Bairro Alto
- The Decorative Arts Museum
- Praca de Commercio (Commercial Square)
- A visit to the beach
- National Coach Museum
- Maritime Museum
Also take some time to just stroll the city--it's fairly safe, well-lit, and easy to navigate; if you do get lost, hail a taxi (they're cheap).
Lisbon: One of the Most Amazing Cities in Europe
If you can't tell, I'm passionate about Lisbon! While I still aspire to travel many places, Lisbon has been my favorite destination so far; delicious food, friendly people, and fascinating cultural and historical attractions made visiting the city an unforgettable experience.
Now that you know where exactly Lisbon is--located in Portugal--it might be time to book that plane ticket and visit one of Europe's most amazing cities!
The Location of Lisbon, Portugal
Visiting Europe? Consider a trip to Lisbon--you won't regret it!