Lisbon is the capital city of Portugal. It is also the largest city in the country with a landmass of almost thirty-three square miles and has a population of over two million people in the metropolitan area. Greater Lisbon is known for its diverse network of primary and secondary schools. These include the Saint Dominic’s International School, Saint Julian’s School, the Carlucci American International School of Lisbon, Deutsche Schule Lissabon, Instituto Español de Lisboa and Lycée Français Charles Lepierre. It is also home to three major universities; The New University of Lisbon, University of Lisbon and the Technical University of Lisbon.
The first inhabitants of the area that Lisbon sits on are the Iberians of the Neolithic Period. These people built many fotifications and megaliths, some of which can still be found in the countryside surrounding the city. Little is known of these tribes until the Indo-European Celts invaded their settlements around the first millennium BC. These invaders intermarried with the indigineous people and produced what would become the Celtic speaking known as the Cempsi. The next historic landmark in the timeframe of this city occurred around the year 205 BC. This is when Julius Caesar placed it uder Roman rule and named it Felicitas Julia. It then fell into the hands of various Germanic tribes from the fifth century until the eighth century when it was capture by the Moors. Their rule over the city lasted for two hundred years, until Afonso Henriques conquered the city for Christianity in 1147. Ever since it has been the main economic, political and cultural hub of Portugal.
Lisbon is a city that has been long known for its beautiful and diverse architecture. The architectural styles represented in this city include Gothic, Baroque, Romanesque, Manueline and Traditional Portuguese. Lisbon is also a city where the major thoroughfares intersect with many historical boulevards and are lined with some of Portugal’s greatest tourist attractions and landmarks. One of these major attractions of Lisbon is the National Museum of Ancient Art. This museum was founded in the middle of the nineteenth century and is situated near the Targas River. The museum has a richly diverse collection of paintings, drawings, textiles, sculptures and metalwork from the middle ages all the way through the nineteenth century. The artist represented here include Garcia Fernandes, Francisco de Holanda, Cristóvão Lopes, Francisco Henriques, Jorge Afonso and Cristovão de Figueiredo. Other prominent museums in Lisbon include the Museu do Azulejo and the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian. The Museu Calouste Gulbenkian covers works of art that include Egyptian, Islamic, Greco-Roman, Armenian and European art that spans from ancient times all the way to the eighteenth century. This museum’s collection includes over six thousand works of art, of which only a thousand are on display at any given time.
A very interesting Lisbon museum is the National Coach Museum. Inside visitors will find one of the largest collections of historical carriages assembled in one place. This museum is located in the old Horse Riding Arena of Belém Palace, which was formerly a Royal Palace and now is the official home of the President of Portugal. The museum was established in 1905 to showcase the carriages of the Portugese Royal Family and contains pieces from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century. Other museums in Lisbon include the National Museum of Costume and Fashion, Berardo Collection Museum, Museu da Farmácia and the Museum of the Orient.
Another prominent attraction in Lisbon is the Lisbon Oceanarium. This oceanarium was built in 1996 and is shaped like an aircraft carrier. Inside is a diverse collection of marine species which include fish, mammals, birds and cnidaria. In the heart of the buildng is a large three thousand square foot tank and an even large fifteen thousand square foot tank. These tanks contain four large one hundred and fifty square feet windows. Located inside these tanks are creatures such as sharks, sting rays, barracudas and sunfish. The collection here includes over sixteen thousand animals from over four hundred and fifty different species.
Lisbon is also home to a great number of famed opera houses. The most popular of these is the Teatro Nacional de São Carlos. This opera house was built in 1793 by Queen Maria I and is located in the Chiado district. This opera house was named after Princess Charlotte of Spain and its architecture has some very distinctive features. The front of the building has the Portuguese coat of arms, a highly decorated clock and a portico. Also on the front is an inscription in Latin dedicating the theater to Princess Charlotte. The main room of the opera house is elliptical and seats over eleven hundred people. The main stage was painted by Cirilo Wolkmar Machado and the ceiling done by Manuel da Costa. The Belém Cultural Center is yet another complex dedicated to the arts. This huge building has a twenty one thousand square foot exhibition area, meeting halls and a large auditorium. This building is over four hundred thousand square feet and was built in 1992. Other prominent music centers and opera houses in the city include the Teatro Nacional D. Maria II and the Gulbenkian Foundation.
A prominent attraction that is known worldwide is the Cristo-Rei. This monument is not in the city limits of Lisbon. It is located across the river in the town called Almada. But, because of how it stands, the ideal location to view the monument is Lisbon. This monument features a two hundred and forty-six foot arch on which stands a ninety-two foot statue of Jesus Christ, which was designed by sculptor Francisco Franco de Sousa. Located on the base is an observation deck where visitors can get a great panoramic view of the city of Lisbon. Last but not least, Lisbon is a city that features some of the finest Portuguese restaurants in the country. This city also has a large collection of shopping venues, cafes and hotels for the curious tourist to visit and explore.