4 | LISBON
Magnificently sited on a series of hills running down to the grand Tagus River, Lisbon is one of the world’s most scenic cities. Beautiful unexpected views are found at every turn down its colorful, picturesque streets, and especially from strategically-placed viewpoints or terraces at the top of each hill. The city has an unpolished, seductive appearance; an effortless beauty with captivating details such as cobbled designs, tiled façades, and pastel-colored buildings blending together to give it a singular atmosphere now lost in so many other cities. In such a stunning place, it’s no wonder that many of the world’s great explorers questioned what other beauties lied beyond the horizon when they departed from here in the 15th century.
Only Venice (Italy), Paris (France) and Prague (Czech Republic) stay in front.
Congratulations once more!
Lisbon – The first capital of the global village
Lisbon is reawakening. The words “new” and “cool” haven’t really been associated with this city since the 16th century when it ruled over the world’s first global empire, extending from Brazil to India. Vasco da Gama’s expedition to the East brought it cultures and a touch of the exotic that Europe had never seen before — spices (cinnamon, pepper, ginger), foods (potatoes, pineapples, tea) and animals such as the elephant and rhinoceros that paraded by the city’s waterfront.
When the glory days of trade and discovery were over, Lisbon fell victim to one of the most destructive earthquakes ever recorded, and remained dormant ever since. The kiss that awoke the “princess by the Tagus” came during Expo 98, the last world fair of the 20th century. The Expo site became a new neighborhood with futuristic architecture, riverfront warehouses were converted into clubs and restaurants, its narrow cobbled lanes were invaded by caipirinha-holding young crowds enjoying a typically-warm night out, new boutique hotels and contemporary-design hostels opened in renovated old buildings, and an energized artistic scene brought it a renewed sense of confidence.
Culture vultures have also welcomed a new world-class collection of modern art (the Berardo Museum), and a reborn Design and Fashion Museum.
But what hasn’t changed are the breathtaking views from its hills which arguably make Lisbon Europe’s most scenic capital. Add its trademark mosaic pavements, dilapidated pastel-colored or tile-covered buildings, iconic turn-of-the-century trams, melancholic Fado music, and you also have one of the world’s most soulful cities. In fact, Lisbon’s unpolished appearance actually provides a seductive atmosphere all of its own, and prevents it from ever being just another bland old city.
The nearby Atlantic beaches and fairytale palaces are other attractions, although visitors will find plenty of reasons to simply embark on their own voyage of discovery in this deliciously-decadent city.