Lisbon is the largest city in Portugal and also its capital. It is the only Atlantic coast capital city in continental Europe. Home to some impressive chapels and bridges, the city is also one of the best places to visit for those who love books. Filled with heritage sites and historical landmarks and outstanding examples of art, the capital of Portugal is a cultural hotspot. Ready to find out more? Here are some of the most interesting facts about Lisbon.
7 Interesting Facts about Lisbon
1. Lisbon is the capital of Portugal
Lisbon is the capital and the largest city of Portugal. Its estimated population is 54,4851 (as of 2022). It is the westernmost large city located in continental Europe. It’s also the westernmost capital city in continental Europe and the only one located along the Atlantic coast.
2. Lisbon is home to one of the world’s most expensive chapels
Experts consider the 16th-century Igreja de São Roque in Lisbon to be one of the most outstanding examples of European art as well as one of the most expensive chapels in the world. The church was one of the first Jesuit churches anywhere in the world. Behind its plain façade lies a heavily gilded interior. Sao Roque Church features elaborate chapels with exquisite gold Baroque architecture, paintings and decorated ceilings. Inside the church, you’ll find the 18th-century Chapel of St. John the Baptist (Capela de São João Baptista), which was constructed in Rome of many precious stones. The chapel was then disassembled and shipped to Lisbon and reconstructed in the São Roque church. At the time it was reportedly the most expensive chapel in Europe.
3. Lisbon is home to the longest bridge in the European Union
Opened in 1998, the Vasco da Gama Bridge is the longest bridge in the European Union and the second-longest in Europe. It measures 7.6 miles (12km) long. Another long bridge in Lisbon is the 25th April Bridge. It is the longest suspension bridge in Europe. The American Bridge Company designed this suspension bridge. This company also designed the Golden Gate Bridge of San Francisco and both bridges resemblance each other.
4. The streets are paved with stone in Lisbon
Portuguese pavement, known in Portuguese as calçada Portuguesa or simply calçada is a traditional-style pavement that you’ll find in Lisbon. Look down and you’ll see black and white, patterned stones all over the sidewalks and public squares. These pretty pavements have existed since the 15th century and there is a special school in Lisbon dedicated to keeping this art alive.
5. One of the deadliest earthquakes in history struck Lisbon
On All-Saint’s Day, November 1, 1755, one of the deadliest earthquakes in history struck Lisbon. The Great Lisbon Earthquake almost completely destroyed the city. This natural disaster then set off a series of deadly fires and a tsunami. Experts estimate the death toll between 12,000 and 50,000 people, making it one of the deadliest earthquakes in history. You can still see evidence of the earthquake’s devastating effects across the city, for instance, at the Carmo Convent. At the time of the earthquake, the Carmo Convent was the largest church in Lisbon, but today all that remains is the roofless nave.
6. Lisbon has one UNESCO site
In 1983, UNESCO inscribed the Monastery of the Hieronymites and Tower of Belém in Lisbon onto its World Heritage Properties List. Construction of the monastery, which stands at the entrance to Lisbon Harbour, began in 1502. UNESCO described it as exemplifying Portuguese art at its best. The nearby Tower of Belém was built to commemorate Vasco da Gama’s expedition. It serves as a reminder of the great maritime discoveries that laid the foundations of the modern world.
7. Lisbon has the most and the oldest bookstore in the world
Lisbon’s Livraria Bertrand in the Chiado neighbourhood is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest operating bookstore in the world. It has been in operation since 1732. But wait, there’s more for book lovers in this city. With 41.9 bookstores per 100,000 people, Lisbon holds the title of the city with the most bookstores per capita, according to the World Cities Culture Forum.