Lisbon's History

Lisbon's history dates back to 300,000 years ago. However, it emerged as a nation state in the early 12th century and ranks as one of the world's longest founded cities. As the legend tells, it is a city founded and named by Ulysses as Ulissipo or Olissopo, which has its origins in the Phoenician words "Allis Ubbo", meaning "enchanting port". It is from there, according to legend, that Lisbon got its name.

Early history of Lisbon was a battlefield for Phoenicians, Greeks and Carthaginians, however it was Romans who started their two-century reign in Lisbon in 205 BC. During Romans period, Lisbon became one of the most significant cities in Iberian Peninsula and renamed Felicitas Julia.

In 714, the Moors arrived to peninsula and resisted against Christian attacks for 400 years. When the Christians finally recaptured the city, it took one more century to repel all the Moors from the peninsula.

The 15th century was the point of departure for the Portuguese Discoveries, an era during which Portugal enjoyed abundant wealth and prosperity through the newly discovered off shore colonies in Atlantic islands, the shores of Africa, the Americas and Asia. Vasco da Gama's famous discovery of the sea route to India marked this century. Lisbon was then world's most prosperous trading center. Furthermore, many attractions of the city at present such as Mosteiro dos Jerónimos and Torre de Belém, both classified by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites, were built during this period.

However, the earthquake of 1755 nearly destroyed the entire city. The city was rebuilt by the command of Marquês de Pombal, who thus created the Baixa Pombalina, a commercial area that still attains attraction. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the city spread progressively to the North and areas such as the Avenidas Novas (New Avenues) were added.

Today Lisbon is one of the most beautiful capitals of Europe while still maintaining the marks of its early glorious history.

You will often hear of Lisbon being referred to as the "City of Seven Hills". Well, Lisbon certainly has a number of hills but as you will see, limiting them to seven is largely based on myth and we can perhaps relate the number to Greek legend, snakes and serpent power, and even Hindu chakras. Be prepared to walk up and down.

The Portuguese

The first thing you notice when you arrive in Portugal is its people.

It is not their heritage, the Culture, the wine or the food, but the ever present kindness of the Portuguese. The kindness always present in everyone's smile, eyes and face. This constant longing feeling that defines the Portuguese as human beings: kind, mellow, quiet, truthful and always ready to help anyone visiting Portugal.

Always keeping Family first, keeping Friends close, communicative, easily invite new acquaintances for their homes and Family reunions. Portuguese's hospitality and kindness keep, more and more, foreigners living in Portugal, feeling it is HOME.

Fado, Portuguese Guitar and Poets

Fado is a music genre has much earlier origins but is generally placed as being originated in the 1820's in Portugal. Fado is generally known for how expressive in nature it is, as well as being profoundly melancholic. It can be described by using the Portuguese word "saudade", which means "longing" and stands for a feeling of loss. The Portuguese guitar is a 12-stringed instrument deriving from the medieval lute with affinities with the mandolin, though larger in size. It has a similar round shape and most beautiful and delicate sound.

Fadistas (Fado singers) are usually accompanied by a guitarra (Portuguese Guitar) and a viola (classic guitar).

The most loved singer Amália Rodrigues among many others like younger ones (Marisa, Ana Moura, Camané) are known all over the world and exceptional Fado singers.

Portuguese literature is a hidden treasure becoming more and more a new discovery by readers all over the world. Among the greatest poets you can find Luis de Camões, Fernando Pessoa, Eça de Queiroz, Almeida Garrett and José Saramago won the Nobel prize in literature in 1998, just to mention a few.

Look for their statues all around Lisbon.

Travelling in and around Lisbon

To travel from Lisbon airport to the center of the city, it may be quicker and will certainly be cheaper to take the metro, as it is connected to the red line, taking you to Saldanha station (financial center of Lisbon) in just 15 minutes and the city center (a change of line is needed) in about 25 minutes. You can connect to all of the three other metro lines from the red line, getting you just about anywhere in the city. Nearest Metro station to the IDUG Conference Hotel is Marquês de Pombal station then you need to walk 10 minutes (learning how to survive in one of Lisbon's 7 hills) or take a bus to Amoreiras.

You can buy the one-way ticket for 1.45 € or the daily pass (which allows you to use the metro, bus, trams and some trains) for 6.15€. Both types of tickets are issued on rechargeable green 'Viva Viagem' or '7 Colinas' cards (cost 0.50€) so don't throw them away.

If you're travelling within the city and plan to make more than five single trips per day using only buses and the metro, a 6.15€ daily pass is your best option. If you intend to do less journeys or use more forms of transport on any given day, Zapping Card is the way to go, as you can recharge it as needed (recharge between 3 and 40 €).

Metro trains run every few minutes from 0600hrs to 0100hrs daily.

A taxi to the center of Lisbon can cost from around €10-20 - depending on the traffic situation and there is a surcharge of €1.60 per piece of luggage. On the other hand, if you take the escalator on arrival and go to the departures, you also have taxis just waiting to pick up passengers and usually they charge less.

Time and Weather

Local time is GMT.

October sees temperatures in Lisbon begin to decline slightly, however they do remain very warm. At least six days of the month the temperature will be above 26°C. The average temperature during the day still reaches a high of 22°C (that's about 72°F), and at night only dip down to around 14°C (about 57°F). The highest recorded temperature ever for October was 33°C

Currency and Cash Withdraws

Currency is the Euro. ATM machines are widely available throughout the city and at the airport. Visa and MasterCard credit cards are widely accepted and some places also accept American Express.

Sites and Places to Visit within Easy Reach of the EPIC SANA Lisboa Hotel and Lisbon City Center

Castelo de São Jorge

From the millennium-old battlements of this castle you have a bird's-eye view of the city in the company of roaming peacocks. Inside is a small archaeological museum and down the hill are a couple of terraces with perfect postcard views over Alfama, the city's medieval village-like neighborhood.

Downtown Lisbon

Walk thru Castelo, Chiado, Terreiro do Paço, Alfama, Bairro Alto and enjoy Lisbon's hills.

The Alfama neighborhood is one of the most beautiful in the city, it has tightly packed narrow cobblestone alleyways on steep hills so it is always best to begin exploring Alfama from the top and work your way down. At the top is the castle and at the bottom the estuary. A walk though Alfama will give you a glimpse of the traditional way of life in Lisbon and of how most of Lisbon looked before being generally gentrified. Alfama is also the site of Sé Cathedral, the national pantheon and Santo António Church.

Everywhere you will find small neighborhood cafes where locals hang out, small public squares, churches, tile panels, whitewashed houses, wrought-iron balconies, colorful laundry strung from the windows and window sills dripping with bright flowers. The neighborhood is said to have inspired Fado songs.

Terreiro do Paço

The triumphal arch at the end of the pedestrian street Rua Augusta opens up on to Terreiro do Paço. It has been recently restored and open to visitors who want to go up to the observation level. The arch was constructed in 1755 following the earthquake in the same year as a celebration of the reconstruction of the city.

Miradouro São Pedro de Alcântara

This is one of several observation points overlooking the city and the most popular of the look-out points. It is located in the Bairro Alto neighborhood in the Jardim António Nobre and is also referred to as "belvedere" which means beautiful vantage point.

From here you can get brilliant views of Castelo de São Jorge (castel), Sé (Cathedral), São Vicente de Fora Church and the city center. At the site there is an azulejo (ceramic tile) map of the view.

Torre de Belém (in Belém)

The city's icon is also a symbol of the Age of Discovery. Built in the early 1500s, this ornate watchtower has been declared a World Heritage monument by UNESCO. Can be visited inside.

Padrão dos Descobrimentos (in Belém)

Monument on the edge of the river Tejo dedicated to the 15th to 16th century Age of Discovery when Portuguese explorers set out across the oceans to seek the New World. It was from this point where the ships would set sail for far off destinations like India and the Far East.

Mosteiro dos Jerónimos (in Belém)

The resting place of explorer Vasco da Gama is a church built in the 1500s as part of a magnificent monastery. Its cloisters are considered among the most beautiful in the world and has been listed as a World Heritage Site.

Churches all around Lisbon and Belém

Visit the surprisingly rich São Roque Church, the Chapel of São João Baptista inside is a European masterpiece (what look like paintings are actually mosaics!) made in Rome for this Lisbon church, and to see more baroque magnificence visit also Santa Catarina Church nearby.

If you develop a taste for this type of golden art, don't miss the golden carriages of the Coaches Museum (in Belém near the President Palace).

Pastéis de Belém at Antiga Confeitaria de Belém (NOT to be missed)

Enjoy delightful pastries and excellent coffee in this charming azulejo (tile) covered café. Pastéis de Belém greatly contribute to Portugal and the shop's vast popularity. Scrumptious mini-tarts are made in the old ovens from a top-secret recipe and can be bought by the box for take away or to eat on-the-spot. Always available still warm coming out of the oven visible from the inside of the Coffee shop.

Not to be missed either is the Famous Portuguese Port Wine and Ginginha, available in restaurants, bars and Specialized Wine shops to take back home.

Parque das Nações

Contrasting with the city's oldest neighborhoods is this 21st-century district showcasing striking contemporary architecture with Europe's longest bridge as the backdrop. It includes a state-of-the-art aquarium, a casino, and a wonderful waterfront promenade.

Shopping

Amoreiras Shopping Center

Walking distance from the EPIC SANA Lisboa Hotel with restaurants, cinema, all types of shops from clothing, gold, porcelain and supermarket.

Centro Comercial Colombo

A world of restaurants, cinemas and more than 200 shops from clothing to porcelain.

Stay an extra day or two and visit

Cascais

Cascais is a delightful Portuguese fishing town, which has an extensive history and is situated close to some of the finest beaches of the Lisbon region. The charming old town centre of Cascais contains a range of interesting tourist attractions and monuments, while the surrounding coastline offers beaches to relax on and pleasant hiking routes.

There is a lot to see and do in Cascais, and this has transformed the town into a respected holiday destination and popular day trip from Lisbon. Can be easily reached by train from Cais do Sodré.

Sintra

Sintra is a delightful Portuguese town that has an abundance of wonderful tourist attractions, which range from ancient castles through to sumptuous palaces.

The town is famed for its Romanticism style of architecture and there are numerous fine examples of this elaborate and decorative construction type found throughout the forested hills of the Serra da Sintra national park.

In 1992, UNESCO expanded the World Heritage categories and established the "Cultural Landscape" criteria. Sintra proved the first such Cultural Landscape in Europe receiving its classification in 1995.

Don't miss the chance to visit Palácio da Pena, Castelo dos Mouros, Quinta da Regaleira and coffee shop Piriquita as their famous 'Travesseiros'.

Sintra is often visited as a day trip from Lisbon, but more than one day is needed to fully discover this fascinating region.

Can be reached by train in Rossio.

Jogging near EPIC SANA Lisboa Hotel

Just go down from the hotel to Marquês de Pombal square, on your left you find a beautiful garden Parque Eduardo VII.

You can then go down thru Avenida da Liberdade, Rossio, Rua Augusta and find downtown main square Praça do Comércio by the Tejo river.

There are some nice aspects to this particular run: its rise of only about 80 meters over 3.5 kilometers is very mild by Lisbon standards.

And even better, this run passes through the most elegant neighborhoods of old Lisbon, full of old-world charm. Landing there at the Tejo River, looking across the wide expanse of the Praça do Comércio, and the classical arcaded buildings lining the square, you are viewing the results of the reconstruction scheme after the devastating earthquake of 1755.

BMC Software

BMC Software office is located in Avenida da Liberdade, 10 minutes away from EPIC SANA Lisboa Hotel. BMC Software has office in Lisbon for the last 18 years fully dedicated to support our Customers providing complete learning enablement to all IT Customers.

Avenida da Liberdade, as well as the Restauradores Square, have their origins in a public park (Passeio Público) inaugurated in the area in 1764. The park was initially surrounded by a high wall. It was revamped in the 1830s and 1840s, introducing a new arrangement of the flora as well as fountains, a waterfall and statues. The allegoric statues representing the Tejo and Douro rivers still existing in the boulevard of the Avenue date from this time.

While walking around Lisbon, look down for the Portuguese pavement (calçada portuguesa) a traditional-style pavement used in most pedestrian streets in Portugal and especially in Lisboa. It consists in small flat pieces of various different stones, arranged to form a pattern or picture, like a mosaic. Just watch them in Avenida da Liberdade!