The 'Golden City' Of Southern Europe

Posted on: 22 June 2009 by Gareth Hargreaves

Lisbon,the capital of Portugal, has experienced a renaissance in recent years and has reclaimed its rightful place as the 'golden city' of southern Europe.

After slumbering for decades, the city's modern, vibrant and cosmopolitan identity is today much similar to that which it enjoyed in the 15th and 16th centuries during the age of the great discoverers, when Lisbon was the centre of trade with the East and the starting point for maritime exploration of the globe.

The city on Seven Hills, the birthplace of fado, a maze of dark and narrow streets that date back for centuries, and now, more than ever, Europe's westernmost capital city has quickly become one of the most cosmopolitan.

Prized for its seamless mixture of tradition and modernity, Lisbon is like no other place on earth. From Alfama, to the Parque das Nações , to the historical district and the new and thriving business district, Lisbon is one of Europe's most beautiful cities.

City Regions & Attractions

Alfama

The oldest part of the city is Alfama, which has many tourist attractions. A leisurely tour on the old trams in this part of the city, steeped with an old world charm is an experience of a lifetime.

The Castelo de S.Jorge , which was won back from the Moors in 1143, is a must in the itinerary for history buffs. This area of the city, with typical narrow streets and traditional architecture, has a unique and friendly atmosphere. Those who do visit Portugal will certainly notice and enjoy the hospitality of the Portuguese people, which in itself is an attraction of the city.

Barrio Alto

Bairro Alto is one of the areas of the city with great nightlife. Here you will find a large number of restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. The downtown area of Baixa is traditionally a commercial area, where a number of shops can be found, including tourist gifts shops.

The extension of the Baixa, the famous Avenida da Liberdade , mirrors that tradition with a haute couture flair, with many of the best international brands such as Armani, Louis Vuitton, and Trussardi represented on this charismatic avenue.

Belem

In Belem, near the Tagus River, there is a variety of monuments and leisure areas. The Torre de Belem is the point from where many expeditions departed, in search of new worlds in the 14th and 15th Centuries.

Other beautiful monuments dedicated to Portuguese explorers can also be found in this vicinity such as the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos and the Padrão dos Descobrimentos , both of which are definitely worth a visit.

Another attraction of the area is the Centro Cultural de Belem, otherwise known as the CCB, which accommodates many international art exhibits and events with the largest auditorium in the city. Also located at the CCB is the Museu Berardo, which has some of the world's most renowned pieces of modern art. Just some of the artists whose works are on display are Dali, Picasso, Warhol, Pollock, and countless others, making this a must see. Close by, you will also find the Docas area, which is great for a scenic stroll through the neighborhood.

City Center

The center of the city, apart from being the business and commercial core of the city, also contains many landmarks and shopping locations.

Lisbon also has an Underground network that can take you anywhere in a matter of minutes. Take some time to see the artworks and sculptures made by local artists in most underground stations.

The residential districts of the city sometimes provide the most interesting sightseeing, and even some exciting surprises. If you haven't already done enough shopping, the Benfica area contains the Centro Comercial Colombo . Filled with endless entertaining options and a vast array of shops, this mall is the biggest in the Iberian Peninsula.

Outside The City

The towns near Lisbon are just as interesting to visit, and provide for a change of scenery and sights that cannot be found in the city. In around twenty minutes you can go to the beach or to the countryside.

West of the city is beautiful Cascais, a town whose rich history is evident in its wealth of historical landmarks and attractions. It also has a large number of beaches. To the south, Costa da Caparica, a fishing village, also has wonderful beaches and allows you to see what a traditional Portuguese fishing village is like.

Lisbon, while a city of contrasts, is more importantly a city of balance. The modern and the traditional, the old and the new, the past and the future all come together here in brilliant unity. In a city whose history and traditions are as rich as its traditional cuisine, it's no surprise that Lisbon keeps travelers coming back for more.

Why & When To Go

There are numerous reasons why thousands of people choose to holiday in Lisbon. These include its charming historic downtown, two mega-casinos, fabulous food, unique music, lively nightlife, elegant shopping boutiques, museums and art galleries galore, and lovely beaches within easy reach. During a Lisbon holiday there is literally never a dull moment.

High season for a holiday in Lisbon is a long one, the weather being inviting and clement from spring right through summer to the autumn months, with warm days often continuing right through to November. Even if you travel to Lisbon in winter you will find it mild, rather than cold, but there is often rain in winter.

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