Celtic, Visigoth, Greek, Roman and Arabic Influences

In prehistoric times, and according to the remains found in various places, Lisbon was inhabited by countless nomadic peoples, and was invaded by Celts in the first millennium BC.

Subsequently, legend has it that the city was founded with the name Olissipo by the Greek hero Ulysses. This name was changed to Olissipona by the Romans who started to occupy the territory in 195 BC.

The Visigoths followed in 500 AD, and called the capital Ulishbon and, two centuries later, the Arabs baptised it al-Lixbuna and Ushbuna, these also being responsible, indirectly, for the current nickname of its inhabitants, “alfacinhas” (literally: “lettuce eaters”), by introducing the lettuce to the country.

All these influences became consolidated over time, and only in 1147 was Lisbon officially conquered from the Moors by the army of the first king of Portugal, King Afonso Henriques, thus becoming Christian.

Stricken by the lethal Black Plague during the Middle Ages, the city, thanks to its port, began, from the 15th century, to give “new worlds to the world” through the Discoveries, thereby becoming one of the richest courts ever, with its status of planetary superpower coming to a close in the 17th century.

And it only made world news again when, at 09:30 am on 1 November 1755, a violent earthquake with its epicentre in the sea (it is thought to have reached 9.0 on the Richter scale), followed by countless fires, destroyed a large part of the city, causing around 15 thousand fatalities.

Reconstruction followed, led by the expeditious Marquês de Pombal and respective architects and engineers, who opted for a very different style of town planning from the original, characterised by wide and geometric streets and avenues and much more resistant four to five storey buildings.

In 1908, emotions were running high and two citizens assassinated King Carlos I and Prince Luís Filipe right in the Praça do Comércio, which acted as the fuse that was required for the monarchic regime to come to an end on 5 October 1910.

The Implantation of the Republic followed which, due to its lack of tradition in society, soon gave way to a national dictatorship (1926), supported since 1933 by the totalitarian regime of António Oliveira Salazar and subsequently followed by the more moderate Marcello Caetano.

This period of history, known as the Estado Novo (New State), ended with the people and the military, in particular Captain Salgueiro Maia, conquering the streets and taking power on 25 April 1974, the Largo do Carmo being the greatest symbol of this revolution.