History and Geography of Lisbon


It is thought that Lisbon was founded by the Phoenicians around 1200 B.C., based on recent archeological finds at the Sé de Lisboa and in São Jorge’s Castle.

Between 719 and 1147, Lisbon was conquered by the Moors (from North Africa) and it was only after 400 years of Moors domain over al-Lixbûna, as the Moors called it, that the city was re-conquered by King Afonso Henriques and his army crusades.

As the first king of Portugal, Afonso Henriques made Lisbon the capital of the kingdom in 1255, due to its privileged geographical location.

The capital became an important commercial port during the last centuries of the Middle Ages, establishing connections with several other cities on the coast of the Mediterranean and with Northern Europe.

At the time of the discoveries, between 15th and 17th centuries, Lisbon strengthened its position as an important port and commercial center of Europe, and key expeditions departed from there, including Vasco da Gama’s in 1497.

In the beginning of the 18th century, King João V built a magnificent aqueduct, the Aqueduto das Águas Livres, an amazing construction for the times. Although the earthquake of 1755 destroyed most of the city, the aqueduct was reconstructed by Marquês de Pombal, the prime minister of the monarchy. After Pombal’s restructuring of Lisbon, today’s central part of the city is still known as Baixa Pombalina.

With the French invasion of Portugal, led by Napoleon Bonaparte, in early 19th century, Lisbon lived intensively the liberal fights of resistance, which in turn contributed to the flourishing of culture, with the opening of several coffee shops and theaters.

Lisbon was the stage for the main rebellions and revolutions, such as the Implantação da Républica, that established the Republic in 1910, and more recently the Revolução dos Cravos in 1974, which brought to an end Oliveira Salazar’s authoritarian regime of nearly 50 years and replaced it with a democratic leadership, still in place today.

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