Lisbon

   Lisboa in Portuguese, is the capital of Portugal and capital of the Lisbon district. The city population is just over half a million; greater Lisbon area contains at least 2.5 million. Located on the north bank of one of the greatest harbors in Europe, formed from the estuary of the Tagus River, which flows into the Atlantic, Lisbon has a long and illustrious history. A site of Phoenician and Greek trading communities, Lisbon became an important Roman city. Its name, Lisboa, in Portuguese and Spanish, is a corruption of its Roman name, Felicitas Julia. The city experienced various waves of invaders. Muslims seized it from the Visigoths in the eighth century, and after a long siege Muslim Lisbon fell to the Portuguese Christian forces of King Afonso Henriques in 1147.
   Lisbon, built on a number of hills, saw most of its major palaces and churches constructed between the 14th and 18th centuries. In the 16th century, the city became the Aviz dynasty's main capital and seat, and a royal palace was built in the lower city along the harbor where ships brought the empire's riches from Africa, Asia, and Brazil. On 1 November 1755, a devastating earthquake wrecked a large part of the main city and destroyed the major buildings, killed or displaced scores of thousands of people, and destroyed important historical records and artifacts. The king's prime minister, the Marquis of Pombal, ordered the city rebuilt. The main lower city center, the baixa ("down town"), was reconstructed according to a master plan that laid out a square grid of streets, spacious squares, and broad avenues, upon which were erected buildings of a uniform height and design. Due to the earthquake's destruction, few buildings, with the exception of the larger cathedrals and palaces, predate 1755. The Baixa Pombalina, as this part of Lisbon is known, was the first planned city in Europe.
   Lisbon is more than the political capital of Portugal, the site of the central government's offices, the legislative, and executive buildings. Lisbon is the economic, social, and cultural capital of the country, as well as the major educational center that contains almost half the country's universities and secondary schools.
   The continuing importance of Lisbon as the country's political heart and mind, despite the justifiable resentment of its northern rival, Oporto, and the university town of Coimbra, was again illustrated in the Revolution of 25 April 1974, which began with a military coup by the Armed Forces Movement there. The Estado Novo was overthrown in a largely bloodless coup organized by career junior military officers whose main strategy was directed toward the conquest and control of the capital. Once the Armed Forces Movement had the city of Lisbon and environs under its control by the afternoon of 25 April 1974, its mastery of the remainder of the country was assured.
   Along with its dominance of the country's economy, politics, and government, Lisbon's cultural offerings remain impressive. The city is a treasure house that contains hundreds of historic houses and squares, churches and cathedrals, ancient palaces, and castles, some reconstructed to appear as they were before the Lisbon earthquake of 1755. There are scores of museums and libraries. Among the more outstanding museums open to the public are the Museu de Arte Antiga and the museums of the Gulbenkian Foundation.

Historical dictionary of Portugal 3rd ed.. . 2014.

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