History of Lisbon and Fado



 

 Overlooking the Tagus River and benefitting from a very mild climate, Lisbon settlements date back to very remote times, having been inhabited since the Stone Age. Moreover, according to legend, Lisbon would have been founded by Ulysses, the Greek hero. The origin of its name comes from Olisipo, which was the name of the village, when in 205 BC it was taken by the Romans. These, realizing its enormous strategic importance, turned it into a municipality. Lisbon was consecutively occupied  by the Goths, Suebi, Visigoths and Saracens. On 24 October 1147, and after a siege of 12 weeks, D. Afonso Henriques, the first king of Portugal, conquered Lisbon to the Moors. In 1255, D. Afonso III moved the capital of the Kingdom of Portugal from Coimbra to Lisbon, which led to major growth in maritime trade and came to subsequently result in the city development at all levels. The climax takes place in the first half of the sixteenth century, when, due to overseas expansion, Lisbon became the center of Europe. After the 1755 earthquake, which left the city severely damaged, a massive reconstruction work was undertaken, led by the Marquis of Pombal, who gave a whole new outlook to Lisbon. The term "Pombaline", still in use today, refers to the specific architectural features  of the historic centre of the city, as ordered by the Marquis of Pombal.

 

Lisbon is a colourful city full of light, with its streets, filled with history, open to the river. Lisbon seven hills enable a beautiful sightseeing where elements of his past single out, as the iconic Castelo de São Jorge. Each zone of the city, called "neighborhood", has very diverse characteristics and attractions.

 

The area of Belém, with its splendid green spaces, houses some of the most important buildings, museums and monuments commemorating the Discoveries, and others, such as the Monastery of Jeronimos, Belém Tower, the Palace of Belém, the Museum of Stagecoaches and the Belém  Cultural Centre.

 

Alfama is the popular neighborhood par excellence, with its low houses, narrow streets, alleys and lanes, which, by the time of the Popular Saints Festivals in June, fill with people, the smell of sardines, of bread with sausage and of the "caldo verde", a traditional cabbage soup . The Bairro Alto is another of the older neighborhoods that has undergone a curious evolution. Once a non commendable area, it became the space of choice for artistic and intellectual circles of Lisbon, with trendy restaurants, designer shops and famous modern bookstores. In the aforementioned Pombaline Historic Centre, downtown, we find many fashion houses and other stores, and not so much the business center of the city, which moved into newer areas, the so-called New Avenues. From Downtown to the river we reach Praça do Comércio, a huge open space facing the Tagus.

 

 

Meeting point for different peoples and cultures, Lisbon harmoniously combines the richness of its historical past with the attractions of a modern and cosmopolitan European capital. Along with more sophisticated environments, we still find the older and very popular neighborhoods and, above all, the Fado, the major manifestation of the Portuguese people' soul, of their aspirations and anxieties, their hopes and joys. Fado is present in every nook of old Lisbon, surprising us when least expected, with its narrow streets and alleys, its flowers in the windows, its clothes hanging out to dry, and its wonderful river.

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