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Lisbon architecture and buildings

History

City, seaport (one of the most beautiful in the world) and capital of Portugal, Lisbon is the westernmost metropolis in continental Europe. From its symbiotic relationship with the Tagus River and the Sun, came the nickname of White City or City of Light.

Its name is a modification of the old name Olisipo (Ulyssipo), and its foundation has already been attributed to the hero of Homer’s Odyssey, Odysseus (Odysseus); to Elisha, supposed grandson of Abraham; and, more recently, to Phoenician settlers – the most credible hypothesis. Despite its occupation dating back to 1200 BC, it was in the 15th and 16th centuries that Lisbon flourished as the center of a vast world empire, during the golden period of the Portuguese discoveries.

At this time of intense maritime exploration, Portugal accumulated power and fortune through the colonization of Asia, South America, Africa and the Atlantic islands. The city’s wealth is now reflected in magnificent buildings from the time, such as the Jerónimos Monastery and its neighbouring Belém Tower, both classified as UNESCO World Heritage sites since 1983.

Lisbon skyline

Weather

If we asked Fernando Pessoa what is the best time to visit Lisbon, his answer would be “in Winter”. What he meant is: Lisbon is luminous at any time of the year. In fact, few cities can boast of having 247 days of sunshine a year.

Lisbon has a Mediterranean climate, mild throughout the year and strongly influenced by the relationship with the Tagus River and the proximity to the Atlantic Ocean.

Summers are hot and sunny: August is the hottest month, with an average temperature of 24.° C.

Winters are mild, although rainy: January is the coldest month, with an average temperature of 12.° C and November is the wettest month.

Lisbon skyline

Gastronomy

Sweet Specialties

Originating in convents and monasteries that survived by creating unique delicacies, Portuguese sweets and pastries continue to delight many centuries later.

Pastéis de Belém

These are not simple custard tarts, like those eaten in any café in the capital! Pastéis de Belém from the Old Confectionery of Belém are inseparable from this area and have been manufactured in this place since 1837, following a secret recipe originating in the Jerónimos Monastery, kept in the strictest secrecy, and recreated daily by the same artisanal processes that give it the true taste of tradition.

Belém Beer Pastries

In 1943, the recipe for the unique beer pastry was born by the hands of a confectioner from the “Confeitaria Nacional” (National Confectionery), one of the most traditional and oldest patisseries in the capital. This is “the other Belém pastry”: less famous, but equally delicious, it is reminiscent of Sintra’s pastries, the “queijadas”, with its thin and crispy dough, filled with almonds, beer, and eggs.

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pastel de nata
Created centuries ago in Portuguese convents and monasteries…
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food at a table
…these specialties continue to delight all who try them.
Snacks and Finger Food

The Portuguese are really found of their snacks, and Lisboners are especially adept! Who can blame them if the snacks come accompanied by a sunny late afternoon and the fresh breeze from the Tagus?

Shellfish

In Lisbon you can eat some of the freshest and most succulent seafood in the world. In the capital’s breweries, you can find lobsters, crabs, shrimp, and various molluscs, such as oysters, clams, whelks, mussels, barnacles, limpets… all straight from the Atlantic coast that bathes the city.

Cod Patties

The Portuguese love their cod, and people from Lisbon love “pataniscas” and cod patties. Each of these has its own fan club, so our advice is: try them both! If you choose “pataniscas”, go for a side of rice and beans. If you go for the cod patties, the best combination is tomato rice.

Snails

Snails are an acquired taste, even among the Portuguese. Some can’t stand the sight of them, others can’t get enough. If you decide to try it, remember they can only be found between the months of May and August. Best accompanied with “imperial” (draft beer) on a hot Summer’s day.

“Bifanas”

Main snack in Lisbon, the traditional “bifana” (pork sandwich) surprises for its simplicity, so rich in flavor. The delicious sauce soaks the fresh bread, making this quick meal a real Portuguese temptation.

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Buffet seafood
Happiness is a snack in a sunny afternoon…
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seafood
…feeling the fresh breeze of the Tagus river.
Main Dishes

Cod, 1000 ways

They say there are a thousand ways to cook it. You could eat it every day, and still you wouldn’t run out on all possible confections during your stay. We insist you try the most popular in Lisbon: “Assado na Brasa” (grilled), “À Lagareiro” (grilled and baked with garlicky olive oil), “À Brás” (braised with fries, scrambled eggs and olives), “À Gomes de Sá” (braised with baked potatoes, boiled eggs and confit onions), “À Zé do Pipo” (baked with mashed potatoes) or “Com Broa”(baked with a corn bread crumble).

Seafood Rice

“Arroz de marisco”(seafood rice) is, for lack of a better comparison, the Portuguese paella. Refined, healthy, and tasty, this dish combines the freshness of marine flavors – and its various types of fish and seafood – with a rich, balanced and earthy broth, where tomato and peppers infuse the rice. This dish has a lot of variations, with different fish, seafoods or molusks, but the philosophy is always the same: simple, Mediterranean flavors that never get old.

Grilled Sardines & Fresh Fish

Cod is king, but sardines are queen. With a rich, characteristic flavor and an unctuous sauce, sardines are loaded with health benefits, belying the idea that everything that tastes good is bad for you. Grilled in charcoal, they are an ex-libris of Lisbon, especially during the popular festivals in June. But any fish that is grilled this way is a delight, really. Make no mistake, the best grilled fish in the world is here.

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food at a table
In Portugal, cod can be king…
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Fish on a grill
…but sardine is queen!

Wine

More than a drink, a source of pleasure. 

Portuguese wines are the result of a succession of traditions introduced by the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks and, above all, the Romans, which began its exportation across the empire.

Portugal has the oldest appellation system in the world, the Demarcated Douro Region, and two UNESCO World Heritage wine regions: the Alto Douro Wine Region, where the famous Port Wine is produced, and the Pico Island Vineyard Landscape.

The vast quantity of native grape varieties (around 2,851) allows for the production of a great diversity of wines with very distinct personalities, explaining why the Oxford Companion to Wine describes Portugal as a “treasure trove of local grape varieties”, and a reference among the main producing countries, with a prominent and growing place among the top 10 producers.

The Lisbon wine region is one of the most productive in Portugal, its vineyards greatly influenced by the Atlantic coast. Close to the capital, to the south, are Bucelas, Colares and Carcavelos. In the centre, Alenquer, Arruda, Lourinhã, Óbidos and Torres Vedras, to the north, the Encostas de Aire.

Wine cellar

Ginjinha

The quintessential drink of Lisbon!
It’s well worth your time going through the various taverns of the city until you find your favorite kind.

Bucelas

Made from the Arinto, Sercial and Rabo de Ovelha varieties, it has a unique fragrance that resembles the German Riesling. These vineyards are planted in the valley of the Trancão River on hard marl and limestone soils creating dry, light white wines, that take on a golden color and complex aromas when they age.

Colares

A Lisbon wine with all the character of its unique origin: the town of Colares, near Sintra. These vines are planted directly on the sand. The sandy soils managed to keep out phylloxera, so certain Colares vines, not grafted, are among the oldest in Portugal. The region’s traditional red grape variety is Ramisco, and Malvasia is the white one.

Carcavelos

Carcavelos is the smallest Portuguese wine region. With a wine-growing tradition that dates back to the Marquis of Pombal, the region is distinguished by its liqueur wine, topaz-colored, with almond flavors and aromas.

Alenquer

The Alenquer area is surely the one that holds a more prominent position, not only in absolute value, as regards the area occupied by vineyards, but mainly due to the prestige that the wines produced there have achieved.

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Clinking wine glasses
🍷 More than a drink…
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Corks
…a source of pleasure.

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