Did you know that Lisbon is the second oldest capital city in Europe after Athens? It was founded in 12th century and is known as one of the longest founded cities in the world. People of Lisboa must have some stories to tell, right?
An earthquake in 1755, also known as the “Great Lisbon Earthquake” nearly wiped the city off the face of the earth. The natural disaster, which struck on All Saints Day, killed over 200,000 people and destroyed most of Lisbon. Today, you can visit the ruins of the Carmo Convent, a library where about 5,000 books were destroyed. To this day, its arches remain roofless as a reminder of the disaster.
Lisbon is called the ‘City of Seven Hills’ since the olden days. However, it is not exactly the truth. Those hills were actually miscounted! Many believe that the reason for calling Lisbon the ‘city of seven hills’ was inspired by Rome and its, well, seven hills (even though the capital of Portugal is estimated to be older than the city of Rome). There are many reasons why the definition had more value back then such as strategic setting in case of a battle.
Unlike other cities, Lisbon’s city hall has a taste for street art. It runs its own public art programme called ‘Gallery of Urban Art’. They hire artists to make murals over old, decaying buildings. Look out for pieces by Vhils, Portugal’s answer to Banksy. We like the open mindedness!
The bridge is an enormous 17 km in length! It holds the world record for the largest dining table ever set. Some 15,000 people were served lunch on the Vasco da Gama bridge as part of the inauguration celebrations.
Lisbon is the home of one of the world’s largest oceanariums. It is located in the Parque das Nações. Inside you will find the main tank which contains sharks and many other creatures of the sea. The place holds expositions from otters to penguins and their offsprings. It’s a magical adventure for children and adults. This oceanarium is famous for its careful caring for the fish and water animals, the adoption and release back to the ocean of the injured ones (like giant rays). It is definitely worth the visit!
Even though it is an activity close to its last days due to animal cruelty, some shows can still be attended at Campo Pequeno. While the young generation is against it, some tradition-seeking tourists and locals still enjoy seeing the show.
Located beneath the ground, the Chinese Clandestinos is a restaurant spoken highly of by the locals. It is described as the only place in Lisbon where you can eat Chinese food as if you were at the food market in Beijing or the village of Manchuria.
Lisbon is home to the oldest bookstore in the world still in operation. Bertrand Books, which opened in 1732 is a place worth the visit. It is one of the world’s smallest bookstores! There’s only enough space for one person and an impressive number of 3,000 books, meaning you’ll have to ask the eponymous owner, Simone, to leave the store as you enter. At least you can browse in privacy.
Village Underground (VU) is an international platform for culture and creativity. It was born in London in 2007 and reached Lisbon in 2014. It is also a co-working community and a creative event destination. It’s unique architectural structure is made from shipping containers and double decker buses which were recycled into office spaces, a restaurant and a conference room. Certainly a landmark in the landscape of Lisboa, Village Underground is home to a new creative community in town.
Galeria Romanas is one of the city’s best attractions and you are likely to miss it! The underground Roman galleries are said to be a portico crypt from the reign of Augustus (1st century BC to 1st century AD). It’s located in Rua da Prata in Lisbon’s downtown area. Galeria Romanas is particularly tricky to visit as it opens for public viewing just once a year, normally in September. The gallery is difficult to access because of the area being flooded – it takes about a month of work to clear it out. Naturally, once it is open, queues are long due to high demand but there are good news – it’s free!
Hosting over half a million residents, Lisbon is surely a busy city. Moreover, it has welcomed lots of people from all around the world now more than ever before. Some come as tourists, others visit for a while and some of us fall in love with this city and decide to stay. Needless to say, there are countless amount of activities from language courses for internationals to traditional ceramic tile painting classes taught by locals. Portugal has a rich culture full of tradition and flavour and you have the opportunity to experience it at the reach of your fingertips. Visit www.skillsgorilla.com for inspiration!