Millions of people make their way to Lisbon every year. However, the amount of tourists the city gets is still significantly less than other major European cities like London or Paris. This means that there are still lots of people who have yet to discover many of the secrets and fun facts about Lisbon.
With its lively culture, beautiful pavements, and street art scene, Lisbon makes for an experience that is unique and awe-inspiring. The city offers a great traveling experience for adults and children alike. It is one of the oldest cities in Europe, so when you visit, you get to see ancient Portuguese landmarks along with modern Portuguese architecture.
Here are some interesting and fun Lisbon facts that show why this city should be on your must-visit list.
Historical Facts About Lisbon
With a city as old as Lisbon, you are bound to find some great events in its history. Let’s take a look at some historical facts about Lisbon.
The Age Of Discovery Started In Lisbon
Between the 15th century and 17th century, explorers from several European countries, including Portugal, set sail to find other regions of the world. It was also the time when most of the countries were colonized by the British, Spanish, French, and Portuguese empires.
It is believed that the ship carrying the first Portuguese explorers embarked on the exploration journey from Lisbon. On their return, many explorers used to disembark in Lisbon as well.
Lisbon Was Known As The City Of Spies During World War II
Berlin is famously known as the city of spies, but did you know that Lisbon also shares the same nickname? This is definitely one of the most interesting facts about Lisbon.
During the Second World War, Lisbon became a hot spot for spies from both sides. It was due to Portugal’s neutral stance during the war that agents from both sides were able to carry out their espionage activities in Lisbon.
It is believed that during the war, there were around 50 intelligence agencies working in the city.
The 18th Century Wasn’t A Good Time For The City
This has to be one of the most tragic facts about Lisbon, Portugal. The first half of the 18th century saw Lisbon progress both economically and in terms of infrastructure. However, in 1755, a massive earthquake jolted the city, and almost 1/3rd of the city’s population perished.
Things didn’t get easier for Lisbon after that. The city was then hit by a tsunami caused by the same devastating earthquake. It resulted in the deaths of over one thousand Lisbon locals.
The City Was Built On Seven Hills Like Rome
Rome was not only considered the epicenter of cultural and economic development but it was also considered one of the most important Christian cities in the world.
This is why many other cities from Christian countries have tried to follow Rome’s model in designing their capital. They did so to give their country’s capital more credibility as a Christian city.
Like Rome, Lisbon was also allegedly built on seven hills. However, some people argue that Lisbon was actually built on eight hills.
Belem Tower Is A Historic Portuguese Landmark
Built in 1515, the Belem Tower guarded the entrance to Lisbon’s harbor. It was the starting and returning point for many exploration voyages during the Age of Discovery.
The tower is a famous national monument and a very popular tourist destination. It is also listed in UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.
Cultural Facts About Lisbon
Lisbon offers a unique cultural experience that you might not find in many other Portuguese cities. Here are some interesting facts about Lisbon and its traditions.
Fado Music Genre Originated In Lisbon
Fado music is popular all over Portugal, but the genre originated in Lisbon. It started in the early part of the 1800s, but some believe that it might have originated even before that.
These days there are specific restaurants in Lisbon called Fado houses that play Fado music while you enjoy your meal.
Pastel De Nata Is A Favorite Of The Locals
There are many tasty dishes that are popular in Lisbon, but Pastel De Nata is one of the most beloved Portuguese dishes of the locals. It is a custard tart dusted with cinnamon that originated in Lisbon.
If you are ever visiting Lisbon, you should definitely try the Pastel De Nata. You can easily find this iconic Portuguese dessert in many restaurants and cafes throughout Lisbon.
Pastel De Nata will make you fall in love with Portuguese food. Regardless if you are a foodie, don’t miss out on discovering the best of the culinary scene through the exciting food tours in Lisbon.
The Street Art Scene Is Really Big In Lisbon
Lisbon is famous for its street art scene. It is a notable aspect of Lisbon’s culture. You will find these artistic expressions everywhere, from walls on the streets to inside government buildings.
There is a lot of graffiti art here as well. Lisbon is definitely a paradise for art lovers; take advantage of the street art tours that bring you to check out these beautiful areas.
Christ Rei Statue Is Lisbon’s Version Of The Christ The Redeemer
The Christ Rei statue is inspired by Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer. The statue overlooks the city of Lisbon. The construction began in the late 1940s, and the statue was finally inaugurated in 1959.
Portugal remained neutral during the Second World War, and this statue celebrates Portugal’s neutrality. It is sort of a sign of gratitude to Jesus Christ for keeping the country safe from the destruction of the war.
Simple Facts About Lisbon For Kids
Here are some fun facts about Lisbon for kids that are simple to remember and can pique their interest.
Lisbon Locals Are Called Alfacinhas
The people from Lisbon are known as Lisboetas. However, there is another name for Lisbon locals as well, which is Alfacinhas.
It is believed that the term comes from alface which is Portuguese for lettuce. Lettuce was abundantly cultivated in Lisbon, giving the locals the name of Alfacinhas. You can still find a lot of lettuce plants in Lisbon.
World’s Largest Salt Water Oceanarium
If you are looking for fun things to do in Lisbon, be sure to check out the Lisbon Oceanarium.
Lisbon is home to Oceanario de Lisboa, which is considered by some to be the world’s biggest indoor saltwater aquarium.
It contains around 8000 marine animals from around 500 different species. This is the perfect place to take your kids if they are interested in sea creatures. It is not only intriguing to visit but also helps them to learn more about marine life.
Capital Of Portugal
As the capital city of Portugal, Lisbon is one of the most important cities in Europe. It is also the second oldest capital city in Europe after Athens.
Oldest Book Store In The World Is Located In Lisbon
This is no doubt one of the most exciting facts about Lisbon for bookworms. Livraria Bertrand in Lisbon is officially certified by Guinness World Records as the oldest operating bookstore in the world. The bookstore opened in 1732 and is still operational.
This bookstore is a paradise for book lovers who are looking for some rare and old books as well as newer publications.
Useful Lisbon Facts For Travelers
Before you visit any place, it is important to learn about it so that you can maximize your traveling experience. Here are some helpful facts about Lisbon when touring around.
You Can Enjoy Tuk-Tuk Tours In Lisbon
Tuk-tuks are usually found in regions like South Asia and South East Asia but don’t be shocked if you see one moving on the streets of Lisbon.
In Lisbon, these tuk-tuks aren’t used as a regular mode of transportation like taxis. Instead, they are part of the unique sightseeing tours available.
If you are visiting Lisbon, you can book a tuk-tuk city tour for yourself and your family. They are an exciting way to experience the city.
The Most Popular Souvenir In Lisbon Is Canned Fish
With all the lovely beaches in Lisbon, it’s no surprise that the locals love seafood. The most popular souvenir in Lisbon is canned fish.
The best thing about canned fish is that they aren’t expensive, so you can bring it back for your friends and family. Some of the best choices for canned fish in Lisbon are mackerels, tuna, and sardines.
You Can Find An Exclusive Museum For Azulejos
The National Azulejo Museum in Lisbon is dedicated entirely to the art of azulejo tilework. Azulejos are the distinctive painted, tin-glazed ceramic tiles that decorate buildings all over Portugal.
The museum contains one of the world’s largest and most significant collections of azulejo art.
For anyone interested in this iconic Portuguese art form, the Azulejo Museum offers an unparalleled look at centuries of azulejo tradition.
You Can See Bullfights In Lisbon
Spain isn’t the only place where the sport of bullfighting is popular. One of the most interesting facts about Lisbon is that bullfighting is still very much prevalent here.
If you are a fan of the sport, you can visit Lisbon between Easter and July. The Campo Pequeno Bullring is the official bullring for Portuguese bullfighting.
Portuguese bullfighting is a little less violent than Spanish bullfighting. Unlike Spanish bullfighting, there is a level of respect and care shown to the bull.
Santa Justa Lift Is One Of The Most Popular Tourist Destinations In The Country
The Santa Justa Lift is one of Lisbon’s most beloved Portuguese landmarks and a popular tourist attraction.
The elevator was built in 1902 and connects Baixa District to the higher Carmo squares. The 45-meter lift offers panoramic city views from the top.
If you are ever in Lisbon, then you shouldn’t miss the chance to visit the Santa Justa Lift.
Common Facts About Lisbon
Here are some general facts about Lisbon to know about.
Rossio Square Is The Most Popular Square In Lisbon
At the center of Lisbon’s bustling cityscape lies Rossio Square. It is the most popular square in Lisbon.
The beautiful plaza showcases the city’s architectural brilliance through fountains, beautifully patterned cobblestones, and structures from different eras.
You can find a lot of entertaining things to do here, from listening to street artists, eating at restaurants, and visiting historical buildings. It is even a good place to just sit and people-watch.
Tagus Iberia Flows Through Lisbon
The Tagus River flows through several Spanish and Portuguese cities, including Lisbon. The flow of water in the Tagus River is slightly slow, which is why the Romans established Lisbon as one of their main ports.
The second largest bridge in Europe, Vasco De Gama bridge, was also built on the Tagus River in Lisbon.
Popular Portuguese Pavement Design
Portugal is known for its unique and distinctive pavements. Lisbon’s pavements feature a unique style of mosaic pavement called Portuguese pavement or Calcada Portuguesa.
These distinctive sidewalks use small black and white stones set in wave-like patterns that flow together like an abstract work of art. Limestones are commonly used to create these patterns.
These pavements are a big part of the city’s identity and style, so if you are ever in Lisbon, don’t just book car rides from one site to the other; try walking on these stylish pavements for a complete Lisbon experience.
Baixa District In Lisbon
The Baixa district is, without a doubt, one of the most lively and vibrant districts in Lisbon. The district was completely destroyed in the massive earthquake that hit Lisbon in 1755. Reconstruction of the district started soon afterward.
Baixa features many shops, restaurants, cafes, and lively plazas. Praca do Comercio is a grand square and popular meeting place within Baixa right along the Tagus River.
Baixa provides visitors with a glimpse into Lisbon’s past as they stroll through the storied district.
Other Interesting Facts About Lisbon
Here are other fascinating Lisbon facts that you might not know, but are certainly worth the attention.
It Has The Largest Casino In Europe
Lisbon is home to the largest casino in Europe, called Casino Estoril. The casino is known for having over 1000 slot machines. There are many different gaming tables, so people can try their luck in whatever game they like.
The casino is located in a large complex where you can find other entertaining things as well. You can make your way to the nearby restaurants or watch a concert happening in the complex.
There Is A Secret Roman Village Underneath Lisbon
The region that we now know as Lisbon was once conquered by the Romans. Underneath the modern streets of Lisbon lie the ruins of one of the ancient Roman villages.
The ruins were found when people were cleaning the city after the 1755 earthquake. There are rooms, small bridges, and passageways all preserved underneath Lisbon.
Note that you can also only visit these ruins in April and September. However, this is a fascinating site to check out.
The Aguas Livres Aqueduct Is A Sight To Behold
Lisbon’s very own iconic aqueduct, Aguas Livres Aqueduct, was built in the 18th century to carry water into the city.
The monumental aqueduct and its canals stretch over 58 kilometers. The aqueduct has a total of 35 arches.
The structure is very well maintained, and you can even visit the top of the aqueducts and get a panoramic view of the surroundings. It gives you a glimpse of how life used to be in the old times when water wasn’t as easily available.
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Discovering More Fun Facts About Lisbon
Lisbon is a vibrant, historic, and exciting city that has so much to offer visitors. The delicious cuisine, fado music, and stunning architecture all contribute to the unique atmosphere of the city.
From the famous Baixa District to Rossio Square and Tuk Tuk tours, the Portuguese capital is full of entertaining options for every traveler. You are sure to uncover more interesting facts about Lisbon on your adventure.