In June the city becomes a city-sized party:
Throughout the month of June, the people of Lisbon come together to celebrate Santo António! The main celebration day is the 12th June, but you will be able to experience the party feeling all month with music, food and drinks in the colourfully decorated streets!
J.K Rowling took inspiration from Portugal when writing her novels:
J.K. Rowling lived in Portugal for years, working as a teacher in Porto. During this time, she started her Harry Potter series. When reading these books, you can tell that she got some ideas from Portugal:
In Portugal, university students wear academic capes that are very similar to those at Hogwarts! Similar to integration traditions in universities all over the world, students in Lisbon and Portugal have different stages and rites of passages throughout higher education, including to the initial integration activities called “Praxe”. Throughout their whole university experience, students have their own “traje academico” – the iconic black cape, which they earn badges for when they complete different steps academically and personally.
The Livraria Lello bookshop in Porto is said to have inspired the moving staircases in the school of Hogwarts and in the photo below you will see why! You can still visit this bookshop; however, you will have to pay 5 euros upon entry which will be deducted in any purchase you make at the store!
The house of Slytherin was founded by Salazar Slytherin, right? Well, António de Oliveira Salazar was a very important figure in Portuguese history. He was, in fact, head of government during the Estado Novo with the motto “Deus, Pátria e Família” (“God, Fatherland, and Family”) he used censorship and a secret police to ensure the public conform to his ideology.
Lisbon suffered an earthquake, fire and tsunami all in one day!
On the 1st November 1755, the city first suffered an earthquake which caused 5-metre-wide cracks in the city centre. Shortly after this first disaster, the harbour and downtown area of the city were engulfed by waves from a tsunami rushing up the Tagus river. Also, because it was All Saints day, the people of the city were praying with candles in their homes and churches which were knocked over by the earthquake so, consequently, caused a huge fire in the rest of the city.
Whilst most of the city was destroyed in this huge disaster, including the Royal Ribeira Palace which was later replaced by the beautiful Praca do Comércio, some districts were spared such as Alfama and Mouraria! If you walk through these districts, you will see that the city in its authentic medieval appearance with its tiny narrow streets and terracotta rooftops!
Portugal has a total of 15 UNESCO world heritage sites
In the whole country of Portugal, 15 places have been recognised for their cultural importance including two in Lisbon’s close surrounding area:
The Belém monastery and Tower
The landscape of Sintra
Lisbon love their fish
Sardines are a real emblem of Lisbon. You can find sardines in almost all restaurants in Lisbon and you can even join the festival of St. Anthony in June which is also known as the sardine festival! At this time of year, the streets come to life; the locals play live music and sell drinks and sardines from their own homes! Lisbon even has a whole variety of shops that sell exclusively tinned sardines! They are filled from top to bottom with colourful tins of sardines!
Photo by Paul Bernhardt – Source
Despite Sardines being a symbol for the city of Lisbon, their favourite fish is actually Bacalhau (codfish). You will find this everywhere and in every form and recipe possible; grilled, as croquettes, cakes, etc. They say there are 365 recipes for codfish, one for each day of the year! Even though codfish is the dish you will find the most, surprisingly it isn’t a fish that is native to the Portuguese waters.
Lisbon’s Oceanarium has the biggest indoor tank in Europe
The central tank in Lisbon’s oceanarium is the largest in Europe! It holds an incredible variety of fish from small tropical species to schooling fish to bigger species such as sharks and manta rays, from penguins to otters! The tank even hosts two sunfish – the world’s heaviest bony fish! Smaller tanks are also scattered around this central tank so you can see some other species up close, including everything from giant spider crabs to fluorescent jellyfish, seahorses to tiny frogs, and plenty more.
Similar to other cities
Rio de Janeiro
Lisbon has often been compared to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, not only for its common Portuguese language and importance in the lusophone world, but also for its similar statues of the Christ looking down of the cities. Lisbon’s Christo Rei, over on the other side of the river in Almada, was inaugurated in 1959 in gratitude for being spared any consequences during World War 2. It took inspiration from the Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro which was built almost 30 years before.
San Francisco is also a very hilly city much like Lisbon. However, that is not the only common feature to both of these cities. Actually, Lisbon has two other similarities to san Francisco, the first one being the iconic traditional trams that were previously mentioned. In fact, when they were originally introduced to the Portuguese capital in the 19th century, they were imported from America! They are actually locally known as the “Americanos” because of this.
In addition to this, the Ponte 25 de Abril and the Golden Gate Bridge are often compared due to being the same style and painted the same colour. Interestingly, the Ponte 25 de Abril was constructed by an American company that built a different bridge in San Francisco; the Oakland Bay Bridge. Here’s another interesting fact: because of the number of suicides that took place on the Golden Gate Bridge, the Ponte 25 de Abril was built without a pedestrian access; you can only travel over it by car, bus or train.
Fado was born in Lisbon
Fado is a form of Portuguese music, known for how expressive it is and particularly how it expresses “Saudade”, a word which cannot be entirely translated but closely relates to the feeling of nostalgia. Its origins are generally placed in the older neighbourhoods of the city and more specifically in Mouraria in the 1800s! In fact, you can still find the house of the first Fado singer there!
If you’re interested in seeing Fado live show, why not join an evening Fado tour? You can experience an authentic Fado night of live music, snacks and wine!
Lisbon is one of the greenest capitals in Europe
Lisbon has actually been voted 2020 green European capital due to its lead in urban sustainability so the city will receive a grant to kick-start eco-friendly projects.
Lisbon reduced CO2 emissions by 50% between 2002 and 2014, energy consumption by 23%, and water consumption by 17% between 2007 and 2013.
First European capital to sign the new covenant of mayors for climate change and energy in 2016.
93.3% of people in Lisbon live within 300m of a frequent public transport service.
Lisbon is a bookworm’s dream destination
The oldest book shop in the world is in Lisbon – Bertrand Chiado was recognised by the Guinness World Records in 2011 as the oldest book shop still in operation. In addition to this, Livraria do simao is said to be the smallest in the world with its tiny size similar to that of a cupboard and only fits one person at a time so the owner often deals with payments outside.