January 9, 2018
The mosaic pavements, slick storefronts, hum of traffic and rattle of streetcars may make Lisbon appear a modern European capital but it has roots that stretch far back. Arguably among the oldest cities of Europe, second only to Athens, this city has its beginnings among the Celts. The spacious natural harbor attracted Greek and Phoenician trading posts as far back as 1200 BC and they, in turn, were quickly followed by a long stream of others – Carthagians, Romans, Visigoths and the Moors.
It lay firmly in the hands of the Moors until 1147 AD, when after a long siege of the castle atop its hill by Afonso I, it returned to Christian rule and remained so. The rise of the Portuguese empire in the fifteen and sixteenth centuries saw wealth from its colonies pouring into Lisbon, gilding the capital. But like all other ancient lands, it has seen more than its fair share of anarchy, bloodshed, natural disasters and the dubious distinction of the longest dictatorship in the world.
The lean years of the recent past are history today as Portugal re-surfaces again. The massive funds from the European Community are put to good use as Lisbon’s buildings get much-needed facelifts. There are problems aplenty still, but its neighborhoods slowly emerge into the twenty first century with fresh new faces.