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Last updated : Nov 2009
 
Lisbon Travel Guide
Lisbon Travel Guide and Lisbon Travel Information - TravelPuppy.com
A decade ago, Lisbon was a city with a slight image problem. The capital of Portugal, a country dubbed the ‘Poor Man of Europe’, was often regarded as a rundown, shambolic and poverty-stricken place. and any locals, while being proud of their lively and colourful home, found it difficult to disagree.

Today, Lisbon is experiencing the kind of renaissance which has not been seen since the 14th and 15th centuries, when the city was at the heart of an empire that stretched from Brazil to India. The event credited with kicking off this recent rejuvenation was the World Expo in 1998. The city managed to squeeze both the central government and the European Union for financial backing, as the authorities hauled the city into shape. Included in this was a new bridge across the River Tagus, a major expansion of the crumbling metro system and the massive redevelopment of the Expo site, the Parque das Nações. Lisbon was quick to seize on the catalyst of Expo 98 and used the worldwide exposure well, to put itself firmly on the tourist and business map. The city has taken its traditional charms along with the friendliness of its people, its buzzing nightlife, the splendour of its natural setting and moulded them into a very attractive package.

This new golden age really began even earlier, during 1994, when Lisbon was proclaimed European City of Culture, and it continued, with Portugal hosting the European Football Championships in 2004.

Lisbon’s superb natural setting, spread across 7 hills and hugging the banks of the wide River Tagus estuary, attracted settlers as far back as 900BC, with the arrival of the Phoenicians. However, its zenith was reached in the 14th and 15th centuries, when its explorers set out to investigate the world’s many oceans. Some of the city’s grandest buildings, such as those along the waterfront in the suburb of Bélem, are legacies of those days. However, most of the city centre Baixa area only dates back to the 18th century, when a large swathe of Lisbon had to be rebuilt after the devastating earthquake during 1755. Lisbon’s famous fado music mournfully recounts the passing of the maritime golden age and such traumas as the earthquake. However, Lisbonetas today have a renewed spring in their step and have come a long way, in a fairly short time, from the introspection and fatalism of fado.

Twenty-first century Lisbon is a vibrant, cosmopolitan and creative place that has managed to successfully marry the historic with the modern, the traditional with the cutting edge. Lisbon is at its best on languorous summer evenings, when the many pavement cafés and riverside restaurants bustle with steamy life. Even in the winter, when the rain sweeps in off the Atlantic, any brief snatch of sunshine brings the tables back outside, in a city where enjoying life and taking time to appreciate it is still paramount.