Although Lisbon dates from pre-Roman times, it has the air of a much newer city today, and there is a reason. In 1755, Lisbon was one of the largest cities in Europe, when it was devastated by a major earthquake.

Prior to the 18th century, Lisbon had experienced several significant earthquakes – but nothing of this magnitude. On 1 November 1755, the city was destroyed by this devastating earthquake, which killed an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 Lisbon residents out of a population estimated at 250,000 and destroyed 85 percent of the city's structures. Among several important buildings of the city, the Ribeira Palace and the Hospital Real de Todos os Santos were lost. In coastal areas, such as Peniche, situated about 80 km north of Lisbon, many people were killed by the following tsunami.

After the 1755 earthquake, the city was rebuilt largely according to the plans of Prime Minister, the Marquess of Pombal. Instead of rebuilding the medieval town, Pombal decided to demolish what remained after the earthquake and rebuild the city centre in accordance with principles of modern urban design. It was reconstructed in an open rectangular plan with two great squares: the Praça do Rossio and the Praça do Comércio. The first, the central commercial district, is the traditional gathering place of the city and the location of the older cafés, theatres and restaurants; the second became the city's main access to the River Tagus and point of departure and arrival for seagoing vessels, adorned by a triumphal arch (1873) and monument to King Joseph I.

Lisbon was the site of three revolutions in the 20th century. The first, the 5 October 1910 revolution, brought an end to the Portuguese monarchy and established the highly unstable and corrupt Portuguese First Republic. The 6 June 1926 revolution would see the end of that first republic and firmly establish the Estado Novo, or the Portuguese Second Republic, as the ruling regime. The final revolution, the Carnation Revolution, would take place on 25 April 1974 and would end the right-wing Estado Novo and reform the country as the current Portuguese Third Republic.

We bought a two day ticket on the Yellow Open Top buses. They had 3 routes round Lisbon available on the ticket, plus a hill tram, plus the Airport bus. It was a good way of getting around, as the distances to walk were prohibitive. The only drawback was that they had scarcely enough buses to deliver their timetable, and certainly did not have enough trams

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Placa de Figueira

The Praça da Figueira ( Square of the Fig Tree) is a large square in the centre of Lisbon. It is part of the Lisbon Baixa, the area of the city rebuilt after the 1755 Lisbon earthquake.

In the 16th century the square did not exist, and most of its area was occupied by the Hospital Real de Todos os Santos (All-Saints Royal Hospital), the most important in the city. In 1755, after the great earthquake which destroyed most of Lisbon, the hospital was badly damaged. It was demolished and the large area previously occupied by the hospital was turned into an open market square. Around 1885, a large covered market of 8,000 m² was built. This market existed until 1949, when it was demolished.

Since then the square has been an open space. In 1971 a bronze equestrian statue representing King John I (1357-1433) was erected in the square. In 1999/2000, during the last renovation of the square, the statue was relocated from the middle to a corner of the square, in order to make it visible from the Praça do Comércio. The original renovation project also called for the buildings to be completely covered with ceramic tiles (azulejos) by Daciano Costa, but this has not has not been done. The Praça da Figueira is surrounded by four-storey buildings dating from the rebuilding of the Baixa Pombalina. The buildings are occupied by hotels, cafés, and several shops. It is also an important traffic hub, with bus and metro stops.

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St Jeronimo's Monastery

The Jerónimos Monastery is a former monastery of the Order of Saint Jerome near the Tagus river in the parish of Belém, in the Lisbon Municipality, Portugal; it was secularised on 28 December 1833 by state decree and its ownership transferred to the charitable institution, Real Casa Pia de Lisboa. The monastery is one of the most prominent examples of the Portuguese Late Gothic Manueline style of architecture in Lisbon. It was classified a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the nearby Tower of Belém, in 1983.

The construction of the monastery and church began on 1501, and was completed 100 years later.King Manuel originally funded the project with moneys obtained from the Vintena da Pimenta, a 5 percent tax on commerce from Africa and the Orient, equivalent to 70 kilograms (150 lb) of gold per year. With the influx of such riches, the architects were not limited to small-scale plans. Manuel I selected the religious order of Hieronymite monks to occupy the monastery, whose role it was to pray for the King's eternal soul and to provide spiritual assistance to navigators and sailors who departed from the port of Restelo to discover lands around the world. The monastery withstood the 1755 Lisbon earthquake without much damage: only the balustrade and part of the high choir were ruined, but they were quickly repaired.

In 1833, the Jerónimos Monastery was secularised by state decree and it was to serve as a parochial church for the new civil parish of Santa Maria de Belém. Restoration work began on the monastery after 1860. To celebrate the 1898 fourth centenary of the arrival of Vasco da Gama in India, it was decided to restore the tomb of the explorer in 1894. The tombs of Vasco da Gama and Luís de Camões, carved by the sculptor Costa Mota, were placed in the southern lateral chapel.


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Belém Tower is a fortified tower on the banks of the River Tagus. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of the significant role it played in the Portuguese maritime discoveries of the era of the Age of Discoveries. The tower was commissioned by King John II to be part of a defence system at the mouth of the Tagus river and a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon.

The tower was built in the early 16th century and is a prominent example of the Portuguese Manueline style. The structure was built from lioz limestone and is composed of a bastion and a 30-metre four-storey tower. The tower was built on a small island in the Tagus River near the Lisbon shore.

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The complex that makes up the Tejo Power Station constitutes an old thermoelectric plant that supplied power to Lisbon and its surrounding area. The building is one of the most beautiful examples of Portuguese industrial architecture from the first half of the 20th century. The Power Station was built between 1908 and 1951, whilst it underwent several stages of expansion. Its structure follows the western type of architecture of iron covered with brick, which shapes and decorates the facades in artistic styles that range from arte-nouveau, in its older sections, to classicism in the more contemporary parts. With the station’s expansion, additional adjoining terrain and buildings were acquired over the years, becoming the great industrial complex it is today.

Due to its state of conservation, the Museum underwent restoration work between 2001 and 2005 to consolidate its structure, renew its facades and interior machinery and, with a new museum project, transform it into what it is today.

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Built between 1939 and 1940, the Monument to the Discoveries represented a romanticized idealization of the Portuguese exploration that was typical of the Estado Novo regime Salazar. It was originally constructed as a temporary construction, and was demolished by 1943. A new monument intended to be a permanent Monument to the Discoveries was constructed, from 1958 to 1960, in cement and rose-tinted stone. The new project was enlarged from the original 1940 model as part of the commemorations to celebrate the fifth centennial of the death of Infante Henry the Navigator.

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The "25th of April" bridge was opened in1966, and a train deck was added in 1999. Because it is a suspension bridge and has similar colouring, it is often compared to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. It was built by the American Bridge Company which constructed the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge, but not the Golden Gate.

With a total length of 2,277 m, it is the 32nd largest suspension bridge in the world. The upper deck carries six car lanes, while the lower deck carries two train tracks. Until 1974, the bridge was named Salazar Bridge. The name "25 de Abril" commemorates the Carnation Revolution.

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Praça do Comércio is one of the iconic squares of Lisbon

The 1755 earthquake destroyed most of Lisbon, including the Ribeira Palace and other buildings by the river. The Marquis of Pombal, coordinated a massive rebuilding effort. He designed a large, rectangular square in the shape of a "U", open towards the Tagus. The buildings have galleries on their ground floors, and the arms of the "U" end in two large towers, reminiscent of the monumental tower of the destroyed Ribeira Palace.

The square was named Praça do Comércio, the Square of Commerce, to indicate its new function in the economy of Lisbon. The symmetrical buildings of the square were filled with government bureaux regulating customs and port activities. The centrepiece of the ensemble was the equestrian statue of King José I in the centre of the square.

Opening towards Augusta Street, which links the square with the other traditional Lisbon square, the Rossio, is a triumphal arch. This arch, called the Arco da Rua Augusta. It has a clock and statues of Glory, Ingenuity and Valor .

On 1 February 1908, the square was the scene of the assassination of Carlos I, the penultimate King of Portugal. On their way back from the palace of Vila Viçosa to the royal palace in Lisbon, the carriage containing Carlos I and his family passed through the Terreiro do Paço. While crossing the square, shots were fired from the crowd by at least two men. The king died immediately, his heir Luís Filipe was mortally wounded, and Prince Manuel was hit in the arm. The assassins were shot on the spot by members of the bodyguard and later recognized as members of the Republican Party – which two years later overthrew the Portuguese monarchy.

By chance we spotted the Silver Cloud across the square as she left Lisbon

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Rossio Square is located in the Pombaline Downtown of Lisbon and has been one of its main squares since the Middle Ages. It has been the setting of popular revolts and celebrations, bullfights and executions, and is now a preferred meeting place of Lisbon natives and tourists alike. The current name of the Rossio pays homage to Pedro IV, King of Portugal. The Column of Pedro IV is in the middle of the square.

The buildings round the square were nearly all destroyed in the 1755 earthquake, and the surrounds rebuilt as part of the overall reconstruction plan for Lisbon

In the 19th century the Rossio was paved with typical Portuguese mosaic and was adorned with bronze fountains imported from France. The Column of Pedro IV was erected in 1874.

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São Jorge Castle (Saint George Castle) is a Moorish castle occupying a commanding hilltop overlooking the historic centre of Lisbon and Tagus River. The strongly fortified citadel dates from medieval period of Portuguese history. The 1755 Lisbon earthquake severely damaged the castle and contributed to its continuing decay: apart from the walls of the old castle, the soldier's hospital and the Recolhimento were left in ruins.

The necessity of maintaining a supporting military force within the capital city required expansion of the site's role of garrison and presidio. From 1780 to 1807, the charitable institution Casa Pia, dedicated to the education of poor children, was established in the citadel, while soldiers continued to be garrisoned on site.

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We were booked into the Internacional Design Hotel 8.7 on with a Superior Square view room. Unfortunately far from being a square view room, it looked directly at the scaffolding opposite, and we could only see the square by putting your head hard up against the window

The restaurant, where breakfast is served each morning, did have a view over Rossio Square. The Bastardo Restaurant we did try on the first evening, but were not overly impressed

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The Pastel de Bacalhau was a sort of Portugese fast food. A cod croquette, with a cheese filling. Washed down with a glass of Madeira. It was not gourmet, but was fun

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Pastel de nata is a Portuguese egg tart pastry. Pastéis de nata were created before the 18th century by Catholic monks at the Jerónimos Monastery. These monks were originally based in France where these pastries could be found in local bakeries. At the time, convents and monasteries used large quantities of egg-whites for starching clothes, such as nuns' habits. It was quite common for monasteries and convents to use the leftover egg yolks to make cakes and pastries, resulting in the proliferation of sweet pastry recipes throughout the country. Following the extinction of the religious orders and in the face of the impending closure of many of the convents and monasteries in the aftermath of the Liberal Revolution of 1820, the monks started selling pastéis de nata at a nearby sugar refinery to bring in some revenue. In 1834 the monastery was closed and the recipe was sold to the sugar refinery, whose owners in 1837 opened the Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém. The descendants own the business to this day.

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The tram is part of Lisbon life. Our bus ticket covered the hill tram round the old town . Queuing was haphazard, and one of the three trams on the route was out of service. We were lucky to have to wait only 45 minutes for our tram to arrive. However the ride through the narrow streets of the old town was worth the wait.

The first tramway in Lisbon entered service in 1873, as a horse car line. In 1901, Lisbon's first electric tramway commenced operations. Within a year, all of the city's tramways had been converted to electric traction. Until 1959, the network of lines continued to be developed, and in that year it reached its greatest extent. At that time, there were in total 27 tram lines in Lisbon, of which six operated as circle lines. All of them running on 900 mm (2 ft 11 7⁄16 in) narrow gauge tram lines. The slow decline of the network began with the construction of the Lisbon Metro and the expansion of the bus system.

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So that was it, out to Lisbon Airport, and a flight back to Madrid to pick up the car and drive back to Moraira

Silver Cloud Holiday