Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, is located on the Atlantic coast, where the river Tagus flows into the ocean.

author:Robert Gulyas

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The area has been inhabited since the Neolithic, by Iberians, Indo-European Celts but also Phoenicians, whose remains from the 8th century have been discovered under the Lisbon Cathedral. Later it was under the rule of the Roman Empire and conquered by the Moors.

The city is a fantastic venue for consumers of modern as well as old architecture, from the UNESCO listed 15th century Neo-classical Belem Palace and the magnificently opulent Manuelin Jeronimos monastery, to the imposing and rather kitsch postmodernist Armoreiras office complex or the Gare de Oriente by high-tech architect Santiago Calatrava, with its forest canopy of support elements resembling Gothic pillars and cross ribbed vaults.

Also a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Belem tower is both a defense system and a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon at the mouth of the Tagus river.

Lisbon is also an exhibition of architectural engineering, due to the 25 de Abril bridge that spans the Tagus river between the capital and the Almada municipality. The suspension bridge, built mid 20th century, includes a train platform and is the largest in the world, with a length of 2,277 m.

Another feature of the Tagus river is the Vasco da Gama tower, a lattice steel structure representing the sail of a caravel. It has and observation deck on top and 3 panoramic elevators.

The most interesting districts of Lisbon are Alfama, Baixa and Chiado. Alfama is the oldest district in Lisbon, dominated by the prominent castle of Lisbon or Sao Jorge and the Lisbon Cathedral.

Pombaline Baixa is the elegant downtown district, built after the mid 17th century earthquake and thus one of the first examples of earthquake-resistant construction.

Chiado district is a traditional shopping area and cultural venue, with several museums and theatres.

The magnificent Padrao dos Descobrimentos or Monument to the Discoveries is located on the estuary of the Tagus rive, where ship would depart to often unknown destinations. As anachronic as monuments may be today, and if there is one that can impress and inspire the mundane modern man, this is the one. Celebrating the Portuguese personalities who took part in the Age of Discovery of the 15th and 16th centuries, the 52 m high monuments consists of a slab of concrete carved into the shape of a ship prow. A carved sword stretches the height of the sculpture and the prow is populated by great Portuguese, famous explorers, painters, travelers, chroniclers, cosmographers, mathematicians, navigators, writers, holding the symbols of their professions and endeavors and symbols of maritime travel.

The floor of the monument features a mosaic world map with the routes of Portuguese explorers. A small space inside the monument hosts a multimedia show on the history of Lisbon, while the top of the structure affords wonderful views of the river Tagus and the Belem neighborhood.

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