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Origins of Lisbon


Lisbon history image
Lisbon tram picture

The Phoenicians, a seafaring Mediterranean people, are thought to have founded Lisbon before the 12th century bc. Celts arrived during the 6th century bc and mixed with the local population. The city was occupied by Rome in the 2nd century bc and by Visigoths in the 5th century ad. The Moors conquered Lisbon in 716 and held the city until 1147, when it was recaptured by Portuguese Christians aided by English Crusaders. Alfonso III moved the court of the kingdom of Portugal from Coimbra to Lisbon in about 1260, bringing new political and economic vitality to the city. By the early 16th century, following a period of exploration and colonial expansion, Lisbon had become one of Europe’s wealthiest and most cosmopolitan cities. The city declined in importance during the period of Spanish rule (1580-1640).

History of Lisbon


In 1755 an earthquake, followed by a tsunami and a fire, destroyed much of the city and killed thousands of people. The city was rebuilt, but it suffered another setback in 1807 during the Napoleonic Wars when the forces of Napoleon I, the emperor of France, occupied the city. During the occupation Portugal’s royal family fled to Brazil. The French were driven out in 1811, and a period of British control followed, ending with the Portuguese king's return to the city in 1821. However, Lisbon and Portugal experienced political chaos that lasted for more than a century. The 36-year dictatorship of António Salazar that began in 1932 provided some stability but at the cost of social and political repression. Portugal was a neutral nation during World War II (1939-1945), and Lisbon became both a haven and a port of embarkation for refugees from all over Europe.

The 1974 revolution that led to democracy in Portugal and granted independence to Portugal’s former African colonies brought many refugees and immigrants to Lisbon. The population influx strained the city’s resources, but also increased its cultural diversity. Lisbon benefited from Portugal's entry into the European Community, a predecessor of the European Union (EU) in 1986, and EU redevelopment funds aided government efforts to update Lisbon’s infrastructure and invigorate its economy. In 1988 a fire, regarded as the worst disaster in the city’s history since 1755, destroyed the fashionable Chiado shopping district. The area has since been rebuilt and improvements to the rest of the capital continue. By the time Lisbon hosted the World’s Fair in 1998 the city had emerged as a major tourism destination. "Portugal" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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