Lisbon is famous for its vibrant nightlife, famous historical landmarks, intricate architecture, and bustling cultural neighborhoods.
Lisbon is the distinguished capital city of Portugal, renowned for its coastal position on the Atlantic Ocean. This allows it to give rise to several seaside resorts and beaches. The western Iberian Peninsula that Lisbon lies on accounts for the mountainous landscape, famous for its seven hills.
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What Is Lisbon Famous For?
Lisbon is known for its colorful architecture, whereby buildings are painted bright colors like red, yellow, and orange because of heated clay. Similarly, several impressive structures like the late Gothic Jerónimos Monastery are sure to take your breath away. Also, Lisbon is famous for its nightlife, festivals, and friendly atmosphere.
History, Culture, And Traditions Lisbon Is Known For
Fado music originated in Lisbon in the 1820s, and the tradition has been kept alive since. The music is characteristically somber and grave and is linked to feelings of loss. It can also capture destiny and the longing desire for more.
This is because it can be traced back to sailors and fishermen during their long trips on the sea.
Nowadays fado music is played especially in historic towns such as Bairro Alto and Alfama. One of the most authentic experiences you can do in Portugal is to enjoy a Fado show!
Carnaval In Parque Nacoes
On Shrove Tuesday every year, Lisbon holds the biggest carnival in the country. There are many reasons for it, ranging from signaling the end of winter to taking influence from the colonization of Brazil. Either way, the huge celebration named ‘Carnival of Villains’ gives locals a chance to dress up in extravagant costumes and dance to lively music.
Although every district has its celebration, the main meeting point is Parque das Nações. There are loud concerts and masks are judged in contests.
Probably the most detrimental event in history is the great earthquake occurring on November 1st, 1755. A fact about Lisbon is that it was almost destroyed, with 85% of the city demolished.
With an 8.5 magnitude, the natural disaster caused 70,000 deaths and the collapse of several valuable buildings and monuments. The epicenter of the earthquake was located in the Atlantic Ocean, causing a subsequent tsunami less than an hour after the initial tremor. This cumulatively caused more damage.
On the same day was the All Saints Day celebration, and the two are now remembered together.
Portugal National Day
Annually on June 10th, we celebrate the National Day of Portugal. Although this is a country-wide event, the capital inevitably has the most vibrant festivities.
The same day in 1580 marks the death of Luís de Comões. He is claimed to be buried at the Monastery of Jerónimos, however, the tomb inscribed with his name is empty. He also holds a tomb at the Pantheon.
The poet is considered the national treasure that Lisbon is known for, and so this day celebrates both him and the heritage of the country.
Lisbon Sardine Festival
Much of Lisbon’s food, as we will discover, consists of fresh seafood. This is due to the proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, which is abundant with tasty creatures. One of these is sardines.
The Lisbon Sardine Festival entails more than just delicious Portuguese food. Moreover, it celebrates Saint Anthony, the patron saint of Lisbon in the 12th century.
One of the most memorable things to do in Lisbon is join in the fun at this festival. The Portuguese cheerfully march around the city dressed in bright clothing, dancing, and of course feasting.
Lisbon is famous for reflecting the influence and inspiration of other cultures. One of the main influences on the traditions and customs of the country is Spain.
Beginning in 1580, Lisbon was conquered by the Duke of Alba. Portugal was colonized for six decades beginning with the Spanish reign of King Philip II. This continued until the Portuguese Restoration War, a coup against the unwanted rule.
Although now independent, it is clear to see the impact was long-lasting. The languages have become more similar, some foods are strikingly alike, and traditions are shared. Nonetheless, the two countries are friendly.
The Portuguese Empire was a wealthy and powerful monarchy. It was founded in 1415 and lasted for centuries, making it one of the most long-lived on the continent.
The empire ruled over many countries such as Cape Verde, Macao, Colombo, and Brazil. This expanded area reflects just how much dominion the rule had.
To this day, you can discover landmarks in Lisbon that are a reminder of the Portuguese Empire. For example, São Roque Church and the Jerónimos Monastery.
Landmarks And Architecture Lisbon Is Famous For
The Jerónimos Monastery in Belém is one of the most famous historical landmarks that Lisbon is known for. It began construction in 1501 and opened a century later, as the intricate architecture took a long time to perfect.
The monastery was built for two reasons. One was to celebrate Vasco Da Gama, a Portuguese explorer who was the first European to sail to India. Eventually, he was buried at the monastery. Additionally, monks who resided here helped sailors in need.
Other famous people are also buried here, such as Luís de Camões, a poet, and King Manuel who ordered the structure to be built.
The Belem Tower, which opened in 1519, is another famous Portuguese landmark that was built in honor of Vasco Da Gama. It is made from regal white limestone and comprises 93 steps to the top, allowing it to tower over the water.
The structure projects onto the River Tagus and as a result, you can get a stunning view from this watchtower that Lisbon is known for. From the outside, you can see domed turrets, cannons, and a terrace, whilst the inside is complete with many opulent rooms and a narrow winding staircase.
Dom Luis Bridge
The Dom Luis is a lavish metal bridge arching over the River Douro. It connects Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia.
There are two decks to the bridge: a lower level you can drive on and an upper level used for the metro. Both are walkable. Furthermore, it was originally built with the idea to help boats navigate their way through the river.
The bridge is a must-see attraction, especially at night. The lights cast elegant shapes that are reflected on the river, creating a romantic atmosphere.
Pena Palace is a vibrantly colored castle surrounded by some of the best natural landmarks that Lisbon is famous for. It is perched on a hill in the Sintra Mountains, overlooking the graceful Portuguese Riviera. In addition, the Pena Park circling the palace is home to rare trees, secret footpaths, and peaceful lakes.
This mid-19th-century structure was designed to reflect Romanticist architecture. Before this, it was a monastery that was tragically destroyed during a huge earthquake. Today, its one of the most famous palaces in Portugal.
When visiting, you can save time by getting a skip-the-line ticket before hand. Another popular option is to take a combined day trip from Lisbon to visit the surrounding areas such as Sintra, Cabo da Roca and Cascais.
São Jorge Castle
São Jorge Castle is an important stone Portuguese castle found in Alfafa, one of the most historic neighborhoods in Lisbon. It was first constructed in the 10th century and since then has been home to some of the most imperative monarchs of the country such as Dom Alfoso and King Ferdinand I.
In addition to serving as a royal residence, it was also a fortress for military defense. The complex is made up of a castle, supporting structures, and gardens. The moat and walls surrounding the area partially remain.
Galapos Beach is located in Setúbal in the Lisbon region. Its unique scenery nestled amidst the hills of Serra da Arrábida creates a relaxing atmosphere ideal for a vacation. The beach itself is in Arrábida Natural Park.
If you are looking for a family-friendly destination, Galapos Beach is it. The pristine white sandy beach is vast and has ample space for sunbathing, beach sports, and more. Furthermore, the restaurant on-site serves fresh seafood, refreshing drinks, and snacks.
There are also plenty more beaches in Lisbon to explore for coastal lovers. These include Galapinhos Beach which is found a short distance away, which is more remote yet larger.
Cathedral Of Lisbon
The oldest church in the city is the Cathedral of Lisbon, a Roman Catholic structure established in 1150. It is otherwise known as the Sé de Lisboa or Cathedral of Saint Mary Major.
The structure exists as a main chapel with twin arches. Also, it contains the tomb of King Afonso IV and the relics of Saint Vincent.
Unfortunately, the religious building has suffered much damage throughout the years. Nevertheless, it has been rebuilt and remains as poignant as it once was. The architectural style is now mainly Baroque but previously had famous features such as Gothic oval windows and motifs resembling Romanticism.
Districts And Areas Lisbon Is Known For
Undoubtedly the most famous district in the city is Baixa. This is due to the mass number of world-renowned landmarks which you can find at every step.
Rossio Square, or King Pedro IV Square, is a great place to start. You can find the luxurious National Theatre and historic Rossio Railway Station. From the station, you can ride to Rua Augusta, which is filled with trendy boutiques and lavish cafes.
What is Lisbon famous for if not its vibrant artworks? In Baixa, you can discover The National Museum of Contemporary Art. It contains poignant pieces beginning from the mid-19th century until current.
Alfama is a lively historical district with rustic qualities and culturally-significant landmarks. You are sure to discover traditional street food, locally-owned stores, and enchanting cafes.
One of the most important landmarks is the Lisbon Cathedral, which is amongst some of the oldest structures the country has to offer. In addition, São Jorge Castle has housed some valuable regal figures.
If you have too much to explore and not enough time, the Miradouro de Santa Luzia is an observation deck with panoramic views over Lisbon as well as the river.
Bairro Alto translates to ‘upper town’, and as its name suggests is perched atop a hill. It is the ideal place to visit with friends and is adored by the younger generation.
During the day, Bairro Alto is relaxed. You can visit historical landmarks like the São Roque Church built in 1619, or take in the scenic views from Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara observation point. The Praça Luís de Camões is a square dedicated to the poet complete with its statue.
On the other hand, Bairro Alto transforms during the night. Lisbon is known for its quirky bars, and in Bairro Alto they line every street, filling the area with live music and cheer.
Chiado is amongst one of the richest neighborhoods in Lisbon. It is dense with culture, reflected by its landmarks. The main opera house, Teatro Nacional de São Carlos, is a lavish white and blue building that hosts musicals and concerts.
In the same way, Chiado has several historical buildings. One of the most well-known is the Convento do Carmo. This ancient ruin was formerly a convent but was just one of many buildings destroyed by the 1755 Lisbon Earthquake.
A short walk from Chiado is the Cais do Sodre neighborhood. It is prominent for Pink Street and its nightlife.
Braga is considered to be sacred, as it has some of the most religious landmarks that Lisbon is known for. Over 80% of Portuguese people identify as Roman Catholic, which is evidenced by the vast number of churches.
On the outskirts of Braga is The Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte. It is reached by a cascading staircase measuring 116 meters and is an important church as well as a pilgrimage site.
You may also consider visiting the Braga Cathedral, which first opened in the 11th century. Its ornate architecture and elaborate artworks contribute to making it a popularly frequented attraction.
Alcântara is a contemporary waterfront city in the center of Lisbon. Despite this, it has many old attractions. It is named after an arched Roman bridge built under the supervision of Emperor Trajan. The Alcántara Bridge, which was constructed of stone in 104 AD, was made over the Tagus River.
The San Benito Monastery is another historical landmark in Alcântara. It consists of two large chapels and also used to be a military headquarter.
On the other hand, innovative landmarks such as the LX Factory bring a modern element to the district. It is a swanky complex of art vendors, new restaurants, and events.
Food Lisbon Is Known For
With the different districts and diverse cuisine in the Portuguese capital, you can hop on one of the fun Lisbon food tours to get a nice introduction to the city and its culinary scene.
Many locals consider the national dish of Lisbon to be bacalhau, otherwise known as cod. It is found in most restaurants and is popular because of its versatility. For example, it can be kept unsalted, or salted and dried.
Although it can be eaten solo, bacalhau is often served with cream or shredded with fried potatoes, yams, and onions. On the other hand, it can also be offered as an appetizer when deep-fried in oil.
In addition to restaurant-style quality, bacalhau is frequently cooked at home for special events such as Christmas and Easter.
Caldo verde is a green soup that gets its color from collard, a type of cabbage. When finely shredded it lets off its characteristic murky color, along with other vegetables. Often added to this traditional soup are kale and potatoes.
This main dish is quick to make and an ideal healthy dinner. In addition, it is great for cold winter days when needing something warm, tasty, and filling to get you through the day.
Feijoada is a stew that is prevalent in Brazil, however, was invented in Portugal. The difference is that the Portugese use white beans, whilst the former use black beans. Historians state that this dish originated from slavery when only beans and pork or beef could be afforded.
The stew can be traced back centuries and is therefore a comforting and significant part of culture. Traditionally, feijoada is served in a large serving dish with rice, toasted cassava, and kale.
If you are looking for an on-the-go snack, bifanas are the perfect sandwich that Lisbon is famous for mastering. Using toasted white bread and rich pork loin marinated in white wine, the sandwich is loaded up with vegetables are served warm.
Lisbon is famous for specifically topping a bifana with mustard and chili, an enticing tangy addition.
Sardines are ubiquitous on the Atlantic Ocean where Lisbon lies. As a result, fresh sardines are a popular delicacy in local restaurants.
They are used in a variety of dishes. Firstly, they can be grilled on the barbecue until caramelized, which is ideal for hot summer days. By themselves, they ooze flavor and are also healthy, as they are a great source of calcium.
On the other hand, they can also be eaten with bread for a heartier meal.
Pastel de Nata
A dessert that Lisbon is known for is their custard tart. They are a flaky puff pastry filled with a glorious egg custard and baked until golden brown. This custard is made with fresh eggs and whipping cream and then flavored with a hint of vanilla.
Finally, for the finishing touches, sugar is dusted over the top and caramelized with a blowtorch. This buttery Portuguese dessert originated in the 18th century by monks at the Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon and has been a familiar favorite since.
And if you can’t get enough of this creamy goody, you can even go on a Pastel de Nata baking class so you can always make it yourself when the craving hits! There is no better place to learn it than in the country of origin.
Famous People From Lisbon
Luís de Camões
Luís de Camões is considered to be amongst the greatest poets of all time. He was born and died in Lisbon, and his resting place is claimed to be the Jerónimos Monastery in Belém.
The 16th-century poet was able to capture some significant events occurring at the time. His most famous work is said to be Os Lusíadas. This epic poem recounts the first European discovery of India by explorer Vasco da Gama.
Furthermore, the poet is also influential because of his blindness in one eye, which took place during an expedition in North Africa. As a result, Portugal Day celebrates his life.
António Guterres has had a significant impact on the country as a whole.
He was the Portuguese Prime Minister for two terms beginning in 1995 and is a consistent member of the Socialist Party. Lisbon is known for its avid battles for human rights and climate change, many of which are policies by Guterres. This has earnt him respect from both the government and civilians,
In addition, António Guterres has served as the ninth secretary-general for the United Nations (UN). This important title means that he is responsible for advocating for the vulnerable.
Portugal is famous for its football and has been the home of many legendary stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo. In Lisbon, the greatest footballer is regarded to be Bernardo Silva, a midfielder.
Silva has played for the national team for almost a decade. He is renowned for his stamina and agility. In addition to this, he has previously joined Monaco part of the French Football Federation, and Manchester City, part of the Premier League.
Vasco Da Gama
Vasco Da Gama is a 15th-century explorer who is one of the most famous people Lisbon is famous for.
He was the first explorer from Europe to travel to India by sea, through the Cape of Good Hope, which links the Atlantic and Indian Ocean. The voyage took him 23 days, and he finally reached it on May 20th, 1498.
Overall, Vasco Da Gama has influenced poets, musicians, and documentaries. He is celebrated on Portugal Day and has monuments dedicated to him such as the Centro Cultural das Descobertas limestone sculpture.
Discovering More Things Lisbon Is Famous For
As the capital city of Portugal, Lisbon holds a fair share of the rich history and cultural heritage of the country. It is the birthplace of several people who have shaped the foundation for knowledge of the world, and houses festivals to honor their life.
With so many things on offer, there are plenty of reasons why Lisbon is known for being a prime travel destination.
In addition, you can find a variety of traditional Portuguese foods in Lisbon which are incredibly popular. Whilst they are healthy and fresh, they deliver a unique flavor that is usually tarty and light.
These barely scratches the surface of the European city, you are bound to discover more of what Lisbon is famous for when you explore it.