10 Interesting Facts about Lisbon

1. Not always the capital city

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Guimarães was the first capital of Portugal, founded in the 12th century.

Then Coimbra became the country’s second capital and remained so for a century before the title passed to Lisbon. Lisbon temporarily lost this title again in the 19th century, when the Napoleonic Wars caused the Portuguese kings to flee to Brazil. Thus, Rio de Janeiro became temporarily the capital of Portugal for 13 years.

It is also said that there is no document on which Lisbon was officially named capital.

2. The oldest city in Western Europe

On November 1, 1755, Lisbon was hit by a major earthquake. A large part of the city was devastated by this quake, which had a 9 on the Richter scale. Estimates of casualties in Lisbon range from 10,000 to 100,000.

3. The longest bridge in Europe

The Vasco da Gama Bridge is the longest bridge in Europe, at around 17 kilometers.

4. The largest indoor aquarium in Europe

The Oceanário de Lisboa is the oceanarium of Lisbon. It opened in 1998 and houses the largest indoor aquarium in Europe. 

It is located on the former site of Expo 98 in the Park of Nations, directly on the Tagus River. The large water basin holds more than 5 million liters of water. It is 5 meters deep and has a diameter of 36 meters.

5. Famous book stores

Both the oldest bookstore in the world (Livraria Bertrand, 1732) and the smallest (Livraria do Simaro, smaller than 4 square meters) are located in Lisbon.

6. City of Spies

Lisbon and the Estoril coast were important centers of European espionage and counterespionage during World War II. Because of the neutral position, intelligence agencies from all over the world gathered there.

7. Underground Roman Galleries

Galerias Romanas. In Lisbon can be found underground Roman galleries, which are an impressive testimony of the Roman city of Olisipo from the 1st century AD. 

Once a year you can even visit them, but bookings must be made well in advance.

8. The largest casino in Europe

The casino in Estoril the largest casino of Europe.

9. The Big Earthquake

On November 1, 1755, Lisbon was hit by a major earthquake. A large part of the city was devastated by this quake, which had a 9 on the Richter scale. Estimates of casualties in Lisbon range from 10,000 to 100,000.

10. Lisbon is the city of the seven hills. Or is it not?

Lisbon is actually a city on eight hills, not seven. Has there been some miscounting?

First, we heard about Lisbon’s seven hills in a book called O Livro das Grandezas de Lisboa, in which the author listed seven beautiful hills, but forgot the highest of them – the hill of Graça, Mirador de Graça. 

Perhaps it is because of this book, or the romantic comparison with Rome. The other city on seven hills.

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