Lisbon, the city built on seven hills, has been Portugal’s capital since the 13th century. It was first settled by the Phoenicians in the twelfth century BC, followed by the Carthaginians, Romans, Germanic tribes and and Visigoths. In 714 AD, the Moors captured Lisbon and held it for 400 years.
Vasco da Gama set sail for India from Lisbon in 1497, and the city became a center for successful voyages of discovery throughout the East and the New World for the next 300 years. Below is the Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Monument to the Discoveries) built in 1960 to the many explorers who set sail from this very site.
Across the street is the 16th century Church of the Jeronimos Monastery. Explorers would enter the monastery to pray before they set sail. The exterior and interior of the church is an example of the new Manueline architectural style with very ornately carved decorative motifs.
The tomb of Vasco da Gama can be found inside the church. The monastery is one of the only historic buildings that survived a terrible earthquake and tsunami that hit Lisbon in 1755. The monarch and his family just happened to be in the church rather than the royal palace, and for that reason, they all survived.
The Belém Tower, one of the most famous and visited landmarks in Portugal, was constructed between 1515 and 1519. The tower was commissioned by King John II to be part of a defense system at the mouth of the Tagus river and a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon.
Looking in the opposite direction of the tower, you can see Lisbon's 25 de Abril Bridge, the first bridge built across the Tagus River. It was designed by the same person who designed the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Notice the similarity?
Lisbon has many museums and monuments. We visited the Carriage Museum and saw carriages that dated back to the 1500’s. The most ornate carriage was the Embassy Coach for the Pope from 1716 in an Italian baroque style.
A few other important buildings we passed included the House of Parliament and Palace of Belém, official residence of the Portuguese President.
The day has been an overcast, misty day. Bonnie and I walked to the Chiado district, a popular area for shopping and had a late lunch. After lunch we were greeted by heavier rains as we scurried home to our hotel where we remained for the rest of the evening.