Lisbon Interesting Capitals of Europe

By: Douglas Scott

Lisbon is for me one of the most beautiful and interesting capitals of Europe.

Looking out from the Castle of St George you have a sweeping view of the entire city.

Lisbon was built upon a series of hills with deep valleys leading down to the river Tagus. Walking down from the Castle, you walk through the narrow medieval streets of Alfama, into Rossio and the Baixa, past churches built upon the birthplace of St Anthony of Padua.

In the city centre you enter an environment in which the Portuguese intermingle with Angolans, Brazilians, Goans, visitors from the old colonies of Macau and Mozambique, along with large numbers of Europeans who have to watch the football or to explore Portugal.

In the evening you can relax in the Bairro Alto, enjoy a meal at one of Lisbons endless variety of restaurants, soaking up the sounds of fado music or choose from the wide assortment of bars and clubs in the region.

At one point Lisbon was Olisipo, the western capital of the Roman empire, and modern archelogical research in the city is constantly uncovering new remains of Roman buildings.

For several centuries it came to be in Moorish hands, until 1147 when Dom Afonso Henriques led the decisive assault on the castle that is now St. George. Many of the Moors continued to live in Portugal and converted to Christianity. In fact, the area around the castle, Mouraria, where Fado music was born, has long been refered to as the Moorish quarter.

The park of nations was created in Portugal for the Expo 98 and is now used for concerts, New Years celebrations and other such events. The main daytime attraction is an exceptionally fine aquarium, the largest in Europe. A huge central tank contains a breathtaking array of exotic sea life, including a variety of sharks, is surrounded by smaller tanks dedicated to the aquatic life of specific regions of the world.

From the Avenida da Liberdade a tram can be taken up the steep hill leading up to Bairro Alto. The tram drops you off at SPedro de Alcantara viewing point from which you can look over the city centre. Lisbons Bairro Alto is one of the best areas to go for eating out, socialising and clubbing.

There are many very good, cheap restaurants in this area and every Friday and Saturday night the streets are packed with young people moving from bar to bar or just socialising in the street. The atmosphere is generally very friendly and informal.

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