Lisbon,  Portugal

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Lisbon Metro Map
  Date:   Dec, 2006
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Dimension:   652 x 559 pixels (140 kb)
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Lisbon (From Wikipedia)
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Lisbon (Portuguese: Lisboa, IPA: [liʒ'boɐ]) is the capital and largest city of Portugal. It is the seat of the district of Lisbon and capital of Região Lisboa (Lisbon Region). Lisbon municipality has a population of 564,477, and the Lisbon Metropolitan Area in total has around 2,800,000 inhabitants, the largest urban aglomeration of Portugal. Lisbon Region is the wealthiest region in Portugal and it is well above the European Union's per capita GDP average.

Lisbon hosts two important European Union agencies namely, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) and the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA). The CPLP (Community of Portuguese Language Countries), is also headquartered in Lisbon.


Lisbon is situated at 38°43' north, 9°8' west, making it the westernmost capital in mainland Europe. It is located in the west of the country, on the Atlantic Ocean coast at the point where the river Tagus flows into the Atlantic Ocean. The city occupies an area of 84.6 km². The city boundaries, unlike those of most major cities, are narrowly defined around the historical city perimeter. This gave rise to the existence of several administratively defined cities around Lisbon, such as Loures, Odivelas, Amadora and Oeiras, which in fact are part of the metropolitan perimeter of Lisbon.

The historic centre of Lisbon is built on seven hills, making some of the city's streets too steep for motor vehicles; the city is served by three funicular services and one elevator. The western side of the city is mainly occupied by the Monsanto Forest Park, one of the largest urban parks in Europe with an area close to 10 square kilometres (almost 4 square miles).


Neolithic era to the Roman Empire
During the Neolithic the region was inhabited by the Iberians, who also lived in other regions of Atlantic Europe at the time. They built religious monuments called megaliths. Dolmens and Menhirs still survive in the countryside around the city. The Celts invaded after the first millennium BC and intermarried with the Iberians, giving rise to Celtic-speaking local tribes such as the Cempsi.

Archeological findings show that a Phoenician trading post existed in the place that, since 1200 B.C., has occupied the centre of the city, in the southern slope of the Castle Hill. The magnificent natural harbour provided by the estuary of the river Tagus made it the ideal spot for a settlement to provide foodstuffs to Phoenician ships travelling to the tin islands (modern Isles of Scilly) and Cornwall. The new city might have been named Allis Ubbo or "safe harbor" in Phoenician, according to one of several theories for the origin of its name. Another theory is that it took its name from the pre-roman name of the River Tagus, Lisso or Lucio. Besides sailing to the North, the Phoenicians also probably took advantage of the situation of the new colony at the mouth of Iberia's largest river to trade with the inland tribes for valuable metals. Other important local products were salt, salted fish and the then widely famous Lusitanian horses. Recently, Phoenician remains from the eighth century B.C. were found beneath the Middle Age Sé de Lisboa or main Cathedral of the modern city.

The Greeks knew Lisbon as Olissipo and "Olissipona", a name they thought was derived from Ulysses or also know as Odiseo for roman people , though this was a folk etymology; according to an Ancient Greek myth, the hero Ulysses founded the city after he left Troy and departed to the Atlantic to escape the Greek coalition. If all of Odysseus's travels were in the Atlantic as Cailleux argued, then this could mean that Odysseus founded the city coming from the north, before trying to round Cape Malea, which Cailleux located at Cabo de São Vicente, in a south-east direction, to reach his home land Ithaca, supposedly present Cadiz. However, the foundation of the city by the Phoenicians is thought to predate any Greek presence in the area. Later on the Greek name was corrupted in vulgar Latin to Olissipona.

Roman Empire to the Moorish conquest
During the Punic wars, after the defeat of Hannibal (whose troops included members of the Conii) the Romans decided to deprive Carthage in its most valuable possession, Hispania (the name given by the Romans to the whole of the Iberian Peninsula). After the defeat of the Carthaginians by Scipio Africanus in Eastern Hispania, the pacification of the West was led by Consul Decimus Junius Brutus. He obtained the alliance of Olissipo which sent men to fight alongside the Legions against the Celtic tribes of the Northwest. In return, Olissipo was integrated in the Empire under the name of Felicitas Julia, a Municipium Cives Romanorum. It was granted self-rule over a territory going as far away as 50 kilometres (30 miles), exempted from taxes, and its citizens given the privileges of Roman citizenship. It was in the newly created province of Lusitania, whose capital was Emerita Augusta. The attacks by the Lusitanians during the frequent rebellions over the next couple of centuries weakened the city and a wall was built.

During the time of Augustus the Romans built a great Theatre; the Cassian Baths underneath the current Rua da Prata; Temples to Jupiter, Diana, Cybele, Tethys and Idae Phrygiae (an uncommon cult from Asia Minor), besides temples to the Emperor; a large necropolis under Figueira Plaza; a large Forum and other buildings such as insulae (multi-storied apartment buildings) in the area between the modern Castle Hill and Downtown. Many of these ruins were first unearthed during the middle Eighteenth century, when the recent discovery of Pompeii made Roman Archeology fashionable among Europe's upper classes.

Economically Olissipo was known for its garum, a sort of fish sauce highly prized by the elites of the Empire and exported in Amphorae to Rome and other cities. Wine, salt and its famously fast horses were also exported. The city came to be very prosperous through suppression of piracy and technological advances, which allowed a boom in the trade with the newly Roman Provinces of Britannia (particularly Cornwall) and the Rhine, and through the introduction of higher civilization to the tribes living by the river Tagus in the interior of Hispania. The city was ruled by an oligarchical council dominated by two families, the Julii and the Cassiae. Petitions are recorded addressed to the Governor of the province in Emerita and to the Empreror Tiberius, such as one requesting help dealing with "sea monsters" allegedly responsible for shipwrecks. Roman Lisbon's most famous son was Sertorius who led a large rebellion against Dictator Sulla early in the Roman Period. Among the majority of Latin speakers lived a large minority of Greek traders and slaves. The city was connected by a broad road to Western Hispania's two other large cities, Bracara Augusta in the province of Tarraconensis (today's Portuguese Braga), and Emerita Augusta, the capital of Lusitania (now Mérida in Spain).

In matters of religion, the city followed the mainstream Roman Polytheist cults, but with special attention paid to the god of Medicina (Asclepius), the Moon goddess Cybele, and a local lizard and snake divinity.

Olissipo, like most great cities in the Western Empire, was a centre for the dissemination of Christianity. Its first Bishop was Saint Gens, and there were several martyrs killed by the pagans during the great persecutions; Maxima, Verissimus and Julia are the most significant names.

At the end of the Roman domain, Olissipo was one of the first Christian cities. The first bishop was named Saint Gens, whose name is still carried by one of Lisbon's hills. It suffered invasions from Alans, Vandals and Sueves before eventually being included in the Visigoth kingdom of Toledo and called Ulishbona.

Moorish Rule
In approximately 711 Lisbon was taken by the Moors (it was called al-ʾIšbūnah in Arabic الأشبونة), under whose rule the city flourished. The Moors, who were Muslims from North Africa and the Middle East, built many mosques and houses as well as a new city wall, currently named the Cerca Moura. The city kept a diverse population including Christians, Berbers, Arabs, Jews and Saqalibas.  Arabic was forced on the Christians as the official language. Mozarabic was the mother tongue spoken by the Christian population. Islam was the official religion practiced by the Arabs and Muladi (muwallad), the Christians could keep their religion but under heavy Dhimmi status and were forced to pay the jizyah.

The Moorish influence is still present in Alfama the old part of Lisbon that survived the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. Many placenames are derived from Arabic; the Alfama, the oldest existing district of Lisbon, for example, is derived from the Arabic "al-hamma". 
For a brief time during the Taifa period Lisbon was the center town in the Regulo Eslavo of the Taifa of Badajoz while rulled by Sabur al-Saqlabi (Sabur the Slav) son of Sabur al-Jatib , a Slav that had been at the service of al-Hakam II.

In 1147, as part of the Reconquista, a group of combined French, English, German, and Portuguese knights, led by Afonso I of Portugal, sieged and reconquered Lisbon. Lisbon was now back in Christian hands.

The reconquest of Portugal and re-establishment of Christianity is one of the most significant events in Lisbon's history; although it is known that there was a bishop in the town that was killed by the crusades and that the population was praying to the Virgen Mary when afflicted with plague. Arabic lost its place in everyday life. Any remaining Muslim population were gradually converted to Roman Catholicism, or expelled , and the mosques were turned back into churches.

From the Middle Ages to the Portuguese Empire
Lisbon in 1650It received its first Foral in 1179, and became the capital city of Portugal in 1255 due to its central location in the new Portuguese territory. During the last centuries of the Middle Ages, the city expanded substantially and became an important trading post with both northern Europe and Mediterranean cities.

A university school at Lisbon was originally founded in 1290 by Dinis I of Portugal as Estudo Geral (General Study) (today the University of Coimbra), being transferred several times to Coimbra where it was installed definitively in the 16th century. The city refounded its own university in 1911 after centuries of inactivity in Lisbon, incorporating reformed former colleges and other non-university higher education schools of the city (such as the Escola Politécnica). Today there are 3 public universities in the city (University of Lisbon, Technical University of Lisbon and New University of Lisbon) and a public university institute (ISCTE) - see list of universities in Portugal.

Most of the Portuguese expeditions of the age of discovery left from Lisbon during the XV to XVII centuries, including Vasco da Gama's departure to India in 1497.  The 16th century marks the golden age for Lisbon. The city became the European hub of commerce with the Far East, while gold from Brazil also flooded into the city. See Portuguese Empire.

The 1640 restoration revolt takes place in Lisbon (see Philip III of Portugal).  On 26 January 1531 the city was hit by an earthquake which killed thousands. On 1 November 1755 Lisbon was destroyed by another earthquake, which killed between 60,000 and 90,000 people and destroyed eighty-five percent of the city [2]. Voltaire wrote a long poem, "Poême sur le désastre de Lisbonne", shortly afterwards, and mentioned the earthquake in his 1759 novel Candide (indeed, many argue that this critique of optimism was inspired by that earthquake). Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. also mentions it in his 1857 poem, The Deacon's Masterpiece, or The Wonderful One-Hoss Shay.

After the 1755 earthquake, the city was rebuilt largely according to the plans of the Marquês de Pombal; hence the designation of the lower town as Baixa Pombalina. Instead of rebuilding the medieval town, Marques de Pombal decided to demolish the remains of the earthquake and rebuild the down town in accordance with modern urban rules.

19th and 20th centuries
In the first years of the 19th century, Portugal was invaded by the troops of Napoleon Bonaparte and king John VI of Portugal temporarily fled to Brazil. Considerable property was pillaged by the invaders. The city felt the full force of the Portuguese liberal upheavals, beginning its tradition of cafés and theatres. In 1879 the Avenida da Liberdade was opened, replacing a previous public garden.

Lisbon was the centre of the republican coup of October 5, 1910 which instated the Portuguese Republic. Previously, it was also the stage of the regicide of Carlos I of Portugal (1908).

During World War II Lisbon was one of the very few neutral, open European Atlantic ports, a major gateway for refugees to the U.S. and a spy nest.

In 1974, Lisbon was the central destination point of the Carnation Revolution maneuvers, the end of the Portuguese Corporative Regime (Estado Novo).  In 1988, a fire near the historical centre of Chiado greatly disrupted normal life in the area for about 10 years.

In 1994, Lisbon was the European Capital of Culture.  Expo '98 was held in Lisbon. The timing was intended to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Vasco da Gama's sea voyage to India.  The Lisbon Agenda was an European Union agreement on measures to revamp the EU economy, signed in Lisbon at an EU summit in 1999.

Contemporary Events
Lisbon hosted the 27th Taizé New Year European Meeting from 28th December 2004 to 1st January 2005.  Every March the city hosts the world-famous Lisbon Half Marathon, one of the most attended events of its kind in the world.  It regularly hosts countless other international events including various NATO, European Union and other summits.  In January 2006, Lisbon was the starting city of the Dakar Rally.  Rock in Rio was held in Lisbon twice, hosting concerts of many high profile singers and bands, such as Metallica, Shakira, Guns N' Roses, Roger Waters and many more.

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Reference Maps and Info  - External Links

Map and info of Lisbon's Subway System (Urban Rail. net)
Maps and the most updated info on the metro system of Lisbon


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