Top 5 fun facts about Lisbon
Lisbon is an amazing city with so much to discover! As soon as you set foot in Lisbon, you will feel a unique emotion, because you will have the feeling that many adventures await you. Today, I want to share with you my top 5 fun facts about Lisbon. This city is one of my favorites for so many reasons. The history, the architecture, the culture, the lifestyle are one-of-a-kind and so inspiring.
Whether you’re planning on going to Lisbon or already been to the city, this article will provide you a few fun facts and stories you probably don’t know about! Since I love Lisbon so much, I always want to share the best places and the best tips to make sure you enjoy the city as much as I do. In this article, you will get to know more about the history past and present of the city, so read on and find out my top 5 fun facts about Lisbon!
Fun fact nº1: Lisbon has not always been the capital of Portugal
First on my list is the fact that, at first, Lisbon was not the capital of Portugal! The first capital of the country was Guimarães. This city is a living memory of the Independence of Portugal. Guimarães is unique, because it greatly contributed to the construction of the Portuguese identity.
Then, it is the city of Coimbra that became the capital of Portugal, because the Count D. Henriques and the Queen D. Teresa established their residence there. It was the capital until the year of 1255.
It was Afonso III of Portugal that decided to move the court to Lisbon, allowing it in turn to become the capital of Portugal. The city was getting wealthier, due to its port where merchant vessels used to come and go. People started to settle in the city. Lisbon gained popularity over the years, becoming the “capital” of Portugal. However, it is said that since no official document has been written establishing Lisbon as the capital of Portugal, it is believed that Coimbra still remains the official capital of the country. It is kind of a mystery to me, so try finding out the truth asking the locals while in the city!
Fun fact nº2: Lisbon was almost completely destroyed by an earthquake
On November, 1st of 1755, a terrible earthquake happened and destroyed many stunning buildings and many goods of the city of Lisbon. It then suffered from a huge fire that lasted for six days. These awful incidents ruined both Lisbon goods and people’s joy.
Marquês de Pombal, the Secretary of the State of Internal Affairs of the Kingdom which is nowadays commonly referred to as the Prime Minister, said that the priority was to “bury the dead and take care of the living”. It was very important that the city got back on its feet very quickly, for it to regain its dignity and freedom. The Prime Minister and his architects and engineers designed a new structure for Lisbon. The most damaged part of Lisbon was the Baixa Pombalina, this is why it is the greatest example of the reconstruction of the city. You will see that the structure of the Baixa Pombalina is now geometrical and the buildings were reinforced to prevent eventual future earthquake damage.
The most incredible fun fact about these incidents is that Alfama is the only district that didn’t suffer any damages!
Fun fact nº3: Lisbon is the oldest city of Western Europe
There is no actual data about when the first peoples started to settle in the city but archaeological works done at Castelo São Jorge revealed the existence of Phoenicians in the city 1200 BC. Later, the Moors lived in the city and established a Caliphate.
Thanks to this type of data and several studies, it was discovered that Lisbon is the oldest city of Western Europe. It existed long before Paris, London and even Rome.
Fun fact nº4: The raven is the symbol of the city
If you pay attention to the details of the city, you will get to see the flag of Lisbon during your stay. In this flag, there is a ship at its center, which is at sea. There are two ravens at both ends of the ship, pointing to the center of the image. What is the meaning of this flag? Why are there ravens? Why have they become the symbol of the capital? This is what I am about to explain to you in this part of my top 5 fun facts about Lisbon.
During the fourth century, during the reign of the Emperor Diocleciano, the governor of Valencia tortured the Zaragoza bishop, the deacon Vicente. After killing him, his body was left to be eaten by animals. The legend says that a raven guarded his body and drove away the remaining animals.
The governor ordered the body of the bishop to be removed and thrown into the sea, but it returned to shore. The body was moved several times, during the Muslim invasions.
When the court moved to Lisbon and D. Afonso Henriques found out about the deacon Vicente, he made sure his remains would come back from Algarve to the Igreja Santa Justa in Lisbon. Later, because of the 1755 earthquake, the remains were transferred to Sé Catedral. The bishop became a “saint”, he became São Vicente.
When the body was being moved from Algarve to Lisbon, it is said that his remains were followed by two ravens. The offspring of these ravens stayed and lived until the eighteenth century in one of the towers of the Sé Catedral.
Fun fact nº5: Tourism in Lisbon has extremely increased over the last few years
The number of visitors in Lisbon per year has drastically increased these last few years. Each year, the city welcomes around 4.5 millions visitors, while there are only 506 892 inhabitants in Lisbon!
You now know my top 5 fun facts about Lisbon! Lisbon is a very attractive city. People are welcoming and friendly, which will make your stay even more joyful! The climate, the people, the lifestyle, the history will enchant you. I am pretty sure you will fall madly in love with the city, and when leaving the city you will already be checking when to return. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article and I hope to see you soon in one of our tours! Feel free to contact us if you need information about anything. Making sure you enjoy the city in the best conditions is our priority!