Spread out across a flurry of hills on the banks of the River Tagus, Lisbon is a city whose lifeblood has always been its wide river and the access to the Atlantic Ocean that it so readily provides. The city grew rich during the Age of the Discoveries in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, when intrepid Portuguese explorers set off down the Tagus and out on to the open ocean on their epic voyages to Africa, the Far East and Americas.
Lisbon is a capital that very much wears its history on its sleeve with traces of the Phoenicians, Celts, Romans, and Visigoths and Moors all rumbling below the surface of a city that owes much of its current appearance to an eighteenth and nineteenth century makeover following an earthquake in 1755. The area follows a quadrangular plan and is called “Baixa”. On its streets graceful eighteenth century buildings complement rambling old districts like the Alfama and the Bairro Alto, while ornate Manueline styles provide a sharp contrast to the glass and steel modernity of the city’s newer developments.
Lisbon today is a thoroughly modern metropolis as it demonstrated when it held the title of European City of Culture in 1994 and then staged the highly successful World Expo in 1998, an event that brought a revamped underground system, a new bridge across the Tagus (Vasco da Gama) and the rebirth of the waterfront area at the Park of Nations Expo site. In 2004 this dynamic city also hosted many of the European Championship football matches, including the final.
Today Lisbon is not only at the heart of Portugal, but it also plays a central role as a gateway between North America and Europe. From the airport to the city centre off- peak takes only around 15 minutes. More direct airline routes than ever before, a high speed train link to Oporto and motorways to the north and to the Algarve mean that the Portuguese capital has never been better connected. These first-rate transport links have helped firmly cement its position as one of the world’s premier destinations. Lisbon is clearly a business hub on the move.