Bohemian and esoteric. As the voice of fado, Amália Rodrigues, said: “Seu nome proprio, María. Seu apelido, Lisboa” (“Her name, María. Her surname, Lisbon”)
The city’s secrets are as numerous as its cultural riches, and there are plenty of little known facts about the Alfama, Barrio Alto or Baixa neighbourhoods that you may not know. Here are just a few.
1. Why are the cobbles on the streets of Lisbon so different?
After the almighty earthquake of 1755, which marked the history of the city, the Marques of Pombal ordered the ruins of the flattened buildings to be reused to pave the streets, which gave rise to the renowned Portuguese pavement which would go on to become extremely popular.
2. Is the statue of Christ the King a copy of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil?
Precisely. At the start of the 20th century, the Cardinal of Lisbon travelled to what was then the Brazilian capital. He was so taken aback with the statue on Corcovado hill that upon his return he raised funds to build an equivalent. Standing 103 metres high, it’s located at the end of 25th of April Bridge.
3. Why are Lisbon residents known as ‘alfacinhas’?
The term means something like ‘little lettuce’. Historically, Lisbon was famous for the extensive production of lettuces in the fields surrounding the city.
4. What are the famous seven hills of the Portuguese capital?
Their names are Santa Catarina, Estrela, Penha de França, San Pedro de Alcántara, Castelo, Graça and Monte. Lisbon is called the City of Seven Hills for the seven summits that form the bounds of the city centre and which provide the city with incredible viewpoints.
5. Did you know that Lisbon has the longest bridge in Europe?
It’s the Vasco de Gama Bridge, which is over 17km long. It was built over the Tajo in 1998 as an alternative for traffic between the north and south of the city.
6. Is it true that the Santa Justa Elevator was built by a disciple of Eiffel?
There’s no actual proof it was. The lift’s architect, Raoul Mesnier de Ponsard, could have simply been inspired by the techniques used at that time for large ironwork constructions.
7. What’s the most famous Lisbon tram?
The iconic number 28 line, which goes from one end of the city to the other, from Alfama to Belem. Lisbon’s tram network is over 100 years old, and is without doubt one of the most picturesque and famous in Europe. A visit to the city without boarding one of the yellow trams is incomplete.
8. Why is it called the 25th of April Bridge?
The name celebrates the day the dictatorship was overthrown in the Carnation Revolution – the moment democracy was installed in Portugal. Before it was called the Salazar Bridge, honouring Primer Minister António de Oliveira Salazar, who ordered its construction in 1960.
Hotel in the centre of Lisbon
Vincci Baixa 4* is in the city’s ‘valley’, the Baixa neighbourhood, between Alfama and the Barrio Alto district. Just a short walk away you’ll find the spectacular Praça do Comércio (Commerce Square) and a wide range of leisure activities: restaurants, shops, museums….
Tapas&Friends is your place to sample Portuguese cuisine. Enjoy the hotel’s lounge bar and relax in its modern rooms, which contrast with the city’s bohemian air.
They say all roads lead to Rome but… did you know Lisbon is 400 years older than the Italian capital.