and many other books about PORTUGAL's capital
the most successfull and talented
historian of LISBON.
Here is the first attempt to
tell you our stories
in English.

domingo, 9 de novembro de 2014


According to the Lisbon historian, Marina Tavares Dias, “Lisbon is geographically one of the most attractive cities in the world, yet it’s also one of the least known, both by tourists and by the Portuguese (and Lisboners) themselves”. Who’s the city’s patron saint? Why is St. Anthony of Lisbon thought to be the patron saint of marriage? And why did Martim Moniz get stuck in the gates of St. George’s Castle? These are only some of ten unfathomable Lisbon mysteries. Some can be unravelled, others can’t. Let’s hear what the expert has to say.

I – St. Genesius
“The oldest tradition on record in Lisbon is that of St. Genesius, who was bishop of Lisbon before the city became Christian. Tradition says that any woman that sits down on the 12th-century stone chair where St. Genesius preached will have an easy delivery. You won’t hear differently! It’s a tradition that’s never died. The chair can be found at the chapel of Our Lady of the Mount.”

II – The Varina
“The «varina»,  traditional Lisbon fish vendor, disappeared from the city streets about 20 years ago. Legend has it that these women were descendants of the Phoenicians. Strong, slim proud, they were celebrated by the intellectual élite and famous poets Cesário Verde or Carlos Queiroz. The most plausible explanation for the varinas' vanishing from the imaginary and the memory is that the people of Lisbon have a short memory and know little about their own history”.

III – Rossio or D. Pedro V Square?
“The funniest mystery about Lisbon is this: why do some streets and squares have two names? Rossio is also Praça Dom Pedro IV, butno-one calls it that;  Terreiro do Paço is «officially» Praça do Comércio; Campo de Santana «became» Campo dos Mártires da Pátria. Across the decades or even centuries, some of the place names in Lisbon were changed, but the Lisbonese didn’t go along with it and continued to use the original designations. As my grandfather used to say, that’s how you can tell who’s from Lisbon and who’s not. People from outside Lisbon use the name Praça do Comércio instead of Terreiro do Paço, and the same applies to Rossio, Campo de Santana and other places”.

IV – Martim Moniz
“Lisbon hero Dom Martim Moniz was supposed to have got stuck while blocking a door, during the defeat of the Moors in the Christian reconquest of the city, in 1147. It was this act that enabled the crusaders to enter the city's walls. From what I’ve read about the conquest of Lisbon – and I’ve read everything there is on the subject – there’s no record of this event. So where does the story come from? God only knows!”

V – Folk Costume
“Many people think that the folk costume of Lisbon is that of the Fado singer in Malhoa’s painting. However, this Fado singer is not the famous Severa, but is, in fact, the prostitute Adelaide. Somebody decided to dress the Lisbon woman in this way to represent Fado. Not only does it not represent Fado – because Severa didn’t dress like that – but the existing folk costume was then cast aside. The traditional Lisbon woman wore a cape and tarlatan scarf. The last representations of this woman were modelled in pottery by the master Bordalo Pinheiro (19th century)”.

VI – Chiado
“It’s practically certain that Chiado doesn’t get its name from the satirical poet Ribeiro Chiado, though the street-plate on the square states so. When they inaugurated the statue to the poet in the 1920s, the Lisbon historian Gustavo Matos Sequeira discovered that there was an innkeeper on the corner of Rua Garrett (which used to be called Rua das Portas de Santa Catarina) and Rua do Carmo whose nickname was Chiado. But I am sure that anyone who often went round this corner knew that their shoes squeak (chiam) on the steep cobblestones, just like the metal cartwheels used to do. What probably happened was that both the innkeeper and the name Chiado came from this squeaking (‘chiar’)”.

VII – The Aqueduct
“The St. Benedict arch, part of the Águas Livres aqueduct, was dismantled so that the tram could get through more easily, in the 1930s. Its stones laid on the Belem Palace grounds for decades. It was put back together at Praça de Espanha and dedicated to those who resisted fascism (1926-1974). It just doesn’t make sense. It’s an unfathomable mystery why a centuries-old monument represents something so recent in Portuguese History.

VIII – Three Patron Saints
“Many people think of St. Anthony as being the patron saint of Lisbon, but actually he’s not. The patron saint is St. Vincent, but he’s not alone in his mission. Let’s not forget St. George, whose name was given to the city’s castle by King João I. During the Reconquista, the Portuguese Christians distinguished themselves from the Spanish by cheering for St. George (while the Spanish cheered for St. James). So there are sort of three «patron» saints of Lisbon: St. George, St. Vincent and St. Anthony, the most cherished of all”.

XIX – Marquis of Pombal
“Tribute is paid to the Marquis of Pombal in an area of Lisbon that should pay homage to the establishment of the Republic (in 1910) because it was here that the Republican barricades were set up. At the time of the Marquis, that area wasn’t even Lisbon, it was Northern suburbs. The homage to the marquis should be in the city centre, which he had rebuilt after the 1755 earthquake”.

X – St. Anthony
“St. Anthony was a dedicated scholar, a highly ascetical Doctor of the Church. He’s not known to have set hearts on fire with passion (like St. John the Baptist and Salomé) and there’s no story him performing a miracle to bring two lovers together. Yet, he’s still seen as the patron saint of marriage. So much so that, since at least the 18th century, many have gone to the church of St. Anthony to ask for a partner. St. Anthony is Lisbon's own St. Valentine. Go figure and ask to be loved; because it works!”

quarta-feira, 1 de outubro de 2014


The Rua Nova, 
with its arcades and selling spots,
was the centre of Renaissance Lisbon
(drawing: Alberto de Souza)

From the era of the Discoveries, the Baixa – or downtown Lisbon (situated between Rossio and the present location of Praça do Comércio) has boasted of all kinds of shops. Before the 1755 earthquake, the area was considerably different from what it is nowadays: it had a maze of winding, narrow streets with countless dead-ends. However, the main street was already the Rua Nova dos Mercadores (New Mercant Street). When being drawn up by the Marquis of Pombal's engineers after the earthquake, the new downtown area respected local, centuries-old tradition. The new streets, a lot wider now, were named according to the kind of trade going on there: Rua do Ouro (for the goldsmiths); Rua da Prata (for the silversmiths); Rua dos Douradores (Gilders Street); Rua dos Correeiros (Leather Merchants Street); Rua dos Franqueiros (Cutlery Merchants Street), etc.

Marina Tavares Dias
in Lisbon for the Tourist Who Loves History

quarta-feira, 3 de setembro de 2014

Oh, the Elegant CHIADO!

Chiado, Lisbon's smart quarter, used to be little more than a small steep street (Rua Garrett) lined with shops on either side. But what life! What luxury! What stories to tell! It was the great meeting place of Romantic period. It was there that attentive citizens of Lisbon were able to sound out the latest fashions and the most recent political news. It was there that literary groups were founded; it was there, at the most prestigious theatres, that booing and foot-stamping sessions were organised and many a reputation destroyed in a flash. In 1840, there were cafés in front of whose doors the humble folk would dare not to pass. A few decades later during Lisbon's Belle Époque, Chiado was chosen as the first home of the large department stores. The Grandes Armazéns do Chiado and a little further down, the Grandella department store were the most famous but both were destroyed in the great fire that swept through Rua do Carmo, Rua Nova do Almada, Rua do Crucifixo and Rua Garrett in 1988.

Photographs by Joshua Benoliel for
the magazine Illustração Portugueza,

sábado, 9 de agosto de 2014


The selling cries of Lisbon's


For many centuries, generation upon generation of Lisbon dwellers lived almost exclusively on products sold in the streets. Innumerable peddlers populated the streets all over the city, hawking all the wares needed in daily life: water, milk, fish, fruit, vegetables, cured sausages, olive oil, paraffin, coal, shirts, caps and scarves, shoes, knives, vases, chairs or lampshades. Broad beans were sold in a stew with gravy (called «fava-rica»); apart from being knife-grinders, tinkers also mended umbrellas; boys whittled toothpicks while girls made flowers to decorate hats. Each product had a different cry or call announcing it and many of them were sung. Some of them became famous, like the cry of the fishwives singing out «Viva da Costa!» – «Alive from the Coast!», or the call of the newpaper kids: «Século-Nooootícias!».

domingo, 20 de julho de 2014



«Until the 1950s, the traditional quarter called Mouraria was very much larger that what it is today. Many of its streets and historical buildings were demolished at a time during which it was believed that areas housing the common folk were both lacking in interest and very unhealthy. In the western part of Mouraria, only the Hermitage called Nossa Senhora da Saúde (built in 1705) was left standing. The Socorro Church and the Alegrete Palace were demolished between 1949 and 1951. The old Apollo Theatre disappeared in 1956. Even the last archway of the old walls built during King Fernando's reign was knocked down at the start of the 1960s. Decades passed without the Lisbon City Council knowing how to mend the gaping wound left in city's historical centre. Reconstruction work was only completed a few months ago on the area known today as Praça Martim Moniz (a square named in honour of the hero who had won Lisbon for the Christians). The solution to the problem lay in providing ample pedestrian walks and a network of fountains where once, long ago, houses had been. [,,,]»

quarta-feira, 16 de julho de 2014


«He who has not seen the Feira da Ladra even once has no idea how much vitality death has!» – so wrote Júlio de Castilho. The Flea Market is as old as the conquest of Lisbon itself and its name «Feira da Ladra» appeared for the first time in a municipal ordinance of 1610. But the market still held today (every Tuesday and Saturday) at Campo de Santa Clara has only been held since 1882. Before that, it was situated at Campo Santana, in a square called Praça da Alegria and near St. George’s Castle. 

The famous curse cast on the Santa Engrácia Church lasted four long centuries. It was once said by an unfortunate man condemned to die while protesting his innocence that he would be avenged and the work going on at the time to build the church would never be done. At long last, the dome was finally finished (with the use of concrete) during the 1960’s. Before this date, all photographs of the church showed its incomplete state.


segunda-feira, 14 de julho de 2014


As from the 15th century, the centre of Lisbon was established in a deep valley which had been covered by river waters many centuries before. It was a swampy piece of ground forking off into two riverbeds that had long-since dried up. During the Iron Age, these two small tributaries of the River Tagus ran along courses that were later to become the two first avenues in Lisbon, Avenida da Liberdade and Avenida Almirante Reis. 

The broad valley where they converged was to become Rossio. Curiously enough, the sound of underground running water may still be heard in the cellars of the D. Maria II Theatre. The whole of northern Rossio’s area lies on the confluence of rivers. This has always been held responsible for all kinds of disasters happening there. 

Fire destroyed the National Theatre (1964) and the S. Domingos Church (1959) and before them, fire also gutted the Inquisitional Palace along with the tragic records stored in there. One such record has to do a famous playwright known as «The Jew» who, after being imprisoned in Rossio, was burned at the stake in Terreiro do Paço (the Royal Palace Grounds) in 1739. Some say the confluence of rivers is answerable for many of the Inquisition’s tragedies. [...]

Marina Tavares Dias 

quarta-feira, 28 de maio de 2014


The favourite chapter by the author LOST LISBON is on the 7th volume of this gigantic work. Marina Tavares Dias dedicated a dense research, for more than 15 years, to the study of all documents related to Queen Stephanie of Portugal , always bearing in mind how different she was from all the other queens, from any time or country.

We hope to see the publishing QUEEN STEPHANIE's biography , as announced in 2002 . This vast work will cast light on the established historical lies about Estefania / 
Stephanie of Hohenzollern - Sigmaringen. Lies not only about the Queen herself but also about the people who, in the later 1800s, started the urban myths that led to these incredible lies.

quarta-feira, 21 de maio de 2014

ANTONIA, our little Princess

Small quotes from


the Portuguese Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen Princess

Chapter VI  of  volume VIII of  LOST LISBON

16 year old Antonia a few days 
before leaving Lisbon, in 1861.

The Book: 




[After leaving Portugal for the last time, on her 1887 visit, Princess Antonia confesses to her brother, King Luiz, while travelling back to Germany through Spain: ]

[.../...] «'It is not the climate of my beloved Portugal, that light warm I have many, many times missed so much! No one knows how my heart suffers for being away, this is just for me, and if you were here now, for you too , my good Brother , because I keep no secrets from you .» 

Princess Antonia’s visit to Lisbon straightened ties between brother and sister . Antonia goes on: "I have suffered much from a kind of ice that lives inside the German hearts. They never have the same sincerity of the good-hearted Portuguese People . I sometimes fear that I am too much dedicated to my country. Only now, after having been there , do I realize how I love the Portuguese. When I left Portugal was very young, almost a child [Antónia was 16] , all seemed to be okay for me, I did not think I could ever find less love in my new homeland ' [Germany], D. Antonia reveals , without fear of exceeding herself, all her feelings to the King, to whom she had already talked in private. 

For their German relatives , she was expansive in excess: "If I was sad, I shouldn’t show what I felt, but if I laughed,  they criticized me for being too loud, thus forcing me to be someone other than myself. At 19 years of age, I had already felt more harshly than many people during all their lives’ [.../...]»

sábado, 17 de maio de 2014


The Portuguese Royal Family in 1858. 
Photographic montage from individual photographs by Francisco Gomes and Václav Cifka. 
From left to right: 

- Queen Stephanie (born Princess of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen),
- Her husband King D. Pedro V;
- Prince Augustus;
- Prince Fernando (who died in 1861);
- Princess (Infanta) Antonia (who would marry Queen Stephanie's brother Leopold of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen);
- King Ferdinand II (King Pedro's father, former King Consort and Regent, widower of Queen Maria II);
- Infanta Maria Anna (who married Prince Goerg of Saxony and would become mother of Saxony's last King);
- Prince John (who also would die in 1861);
- Prince Luiz (future king; after his older brother's death) 

LOST LISBON, the book by Marina Tavares Dias 

has a volume VII section about "Dona Estefania: a Queen, a hospital, a neighborhood of Lisbon" 

and a volume VIII section about "Antónia, Portugal's Princess".

sexta-feira, 2 de maio de 2014


In 1939, a few months after World War II began, a French advertisement distributed by the «Casa de Portugal em Paris» (The House of Portugal in Paris) seems to be premonitory. It recalls how Lisbon is the natural depart for the other side of the Atlantic and the rest of the world.
When, later, France herself was occupied by the nazi regime, hundreds of thousands of Europeans escaped through this «golden light city», where they were welcome and secure. Lisbonne, «Europe's harbour» between nightmare and safety.

Marina Tavares Dias has a book about the War Years in Lisbon.

sábado, 26 de abril de 2014


From the newsparpers of 1858:

«The Queen of Portugal arrived at Buckingham Palace yesterday [May 6] afternoon upon a visit to Her Majesty the Queen [Victoria]. The Queen of Portugal on landing at Dover was received by the Earl of Shefield, Lord in Waiting, and Major-General Wylde, Groom in Waiting to the Prince Consort. Her Majesty, accompanied by her father, the Prince of Hohenzollern, and her brother, Prince Leopold, and attended by her suite, traveled to London by a special train on the South-Eastern Railway»

Investigation: LISBOA DESAPARECIDA, a book by 
Photograph: The Queen of Portugal, Princess of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen
at the Royal mass in the Portuguese consulate in London.
Detail from a water-colour by the Portuguese miniaturist
Edward of Moira

sexta-feira, 25 de abril de 2014

The peaceful Revolution of 1974

This photograph, taken in LISBON, on the early hours of April 25, 1974, does not look like the picture of a revolution. Yet it is. Of a particularly peaceful one that, on that same day, ended a 48 year old dictatorship. 

One of the soldiers had left the tank to make a call from the phone booth (the public telephone was the only option in those days, and still safer than any cellphone). The poster calls for an «evolution without revolution». But the future was already on the march.

Today in PORTUGAL we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the 25th of April. 


terça-feira, 22 de abril de 2014


In 1800, the number of emigrants from Galicia, Northern Spain, residing in Portugal was already close to 80,000. 

Throughout the next one hundred years, selling water in barrels, they were to be found everywhere: between Rossio and the arcades in Praça do Comércio, between the Ministry buildings and the quaysides, at the doors of the large department stores, on street corners downtown and specially in Chiado, where there used to be a square known as the «Ilha dos Galegos» – «Galician Island». 

In 1830 about 3,454 water-sellers crossed the Lisbon streets daily. But the Galicians also had other trades, such as taking messages, delivering parcels or helping to move house. Two Galicians and a rope, so the saying goes, were capable of moving almost an entire sitting-room full of furniture in one go. 

Another saying had it that love without a Galician was indeed love without feet. What would have become of lovers without a messenger for their love-letters at a time when all affairs of the heart had to be protected from paternal wrath?


quinta-feira, 17 de abril de 2014

LISBON'S CLASSIC BOOKSHOPS... and the already classic 'who cares when we are in crisis?'



This was number 17 of one of Lisbon's most important boulevards: Avenida Almirante Reis.
Founded in 1910 as a corset store; it was transformed in an old and cozy bookstore in the 1970's, with valuable and rare books occupying the same furniture that had not been altered since the very beginning. 

The tiles you see on the floor are not sold anymore: they were manufactured to absorb water easily and to keep the store warm during the winter. The shelves were unique, made in a Rua dos Anjos carpenter who was very keen on art-nouveau styles. The ceiling had floral combinations and the back office was all made of oak.

Then, came «the crisis era». Who is going to care about some classical store when there is not even a Ministry of Culture anymore? Who is going to stop a business of growing at any (non-specifically-financial) cost? - No-one.

The store was all broken and now is a convenience store with beer, potatoes, gas bottles, batteries and cheap clothing. Its interiors? - Gone with the Wind. Like the title of a book I once bought here, in a precious first edition.



quinta-feira, 10 de abril de 2014


 Hospital de D. Estefânia
in the 19th century
(left and below)

Original plant of 
Queen Stephanie's Hospital (1860s)


See the highlighted
green space 
surrounded by pink?
It's the
Queen's Hospital
and its gardens.
Notice how few other
green spaces
central Lisbon has

The Queen Stephanie's 
Hospital Friends' League

Queen Stephanie's Hospital still exists in 2014.

But there are plans for its destruction, due to

its centrality and the value of its land and gardens.

Nevertheless, it was built on land owned by the King

and with money of the Royal Household.

Read the 
in the pages 
of the VII volume
(Lost Lisbon)
by Historian 
Marina Tavares Dias, 2001.

sábado, 5 de abril de 2014

Stephanie, Princess of Hohenzollern, Queen and Angel of Portugal

«[...] In January of 1859, Estefânia (Stephanie) and Pedro are so accostumed to sharing every detail of everyday life that a simple separation of three days is immense. They write letters to each other and the Queen confesses her fears about his health. In the return, they can't stop " kissing again and again and again", as the Queen writes, concluding that they could never again live without one another. 

[...] The official engagements that impress them the most are all connected to the well-being of children. They worry about the 'wheel', where unwanted newborns are left to charity during the night. They become godparents of a baby who arrives during one of their many unknown night visits. 

Estefânia will write: "The merchants and traders of Lisbon put at my disposal, celebrating our marriage, 132 thousand Francs, with which we want to establish a hospital for children." 

It is with this wish that Portugal will have its first pediatric hospital , the future Hospital of D. Estefânia. Later in 1859, the young King Pedro, already a widower, will not let his wife's dream die. [...]»

Adapted from the Text by 

The Biography of QUEEN STEPHANIE 
goes on in the pages of the VII volume
of LISBOA DESAPARECIDA (Lost Lisbon), 2001.

terça-feira, 1 de abril de 2014


By the beautiful sea.

Owing to the fact that Lisbon was built on a river estuary, the city has always lived side-by-side with the beach. Nevertheless, the fashion of spending summers at the seaside only took hold in the second half of the 19th century. 

The industrial revolution had brought thousands of families into the city to seek their fortunes in the terrible conditions of daily life in the factories. In fewer than one hundred years, a sunburned skin which had previously been the exclusive attribute of the peasantry, had now become a luxury. 

The most popular beaches thronged by Lisbon's population were almost within the city itself. Belém and Pedrouços were at the height of fashion in around 1860. 

During this period, wealthy families enjoyed spending the month of August in the surrounding countryside and the month of September at the seaside. In those days, Cascais was still thought to be too far away for convenience. Until, one day, it was reached by rail and the court of king Luiz set up residence there.

quinta-feira, 27 de março de 2014




« Praça da Figueira (Figtree Market) was one of Lisbon's tourist attractions in the 1900s, appearing on countless illustrated postcards of the time. It was Lisbon's central market place, set up in this locality following the 1755 earthquake. In 1849 it was decorated with wrought-iron railings and given eight large entrance doors. The stalls or «halles» were built in 1883. Each of the main façades was composed of three sections and at each corner there was a tower with a dome. Although it was demolished in1949, Praça da Figueira still lives on in the city's imagination. When it was destroyed, the city irretrievably lost its main period piece built of iron and glass. In its place today, Figtree Square (“praça” being a common designation for both “market” and “square” in Portuguese) carries on bearing its name and its many 
memories. [.../...]»

  Lisbon's Central Market, demolished in 1949

                                                     The empty square nowadays (2014)


domingo, 16 de março de 2014


«The fado was born one day/ When hardly a breeze was whispering/ And the sea merged into the sky/ In the tacking of a sailing ship/ In the breast of a sailor-boy/ Who was singing in his melancholy» – so goes the poem written by José Régio and sung by Amália Rodrigues. The real origins of Lisbon’s traditional song are probably much more recent than the era of the Discoveries. There is no written record of the fado before the 19th century. Its melody, which is thought to be the successor of the «lundum» danced by black slaves in Brazil, follows a four-line stanza where each line has a 10-syllable count. But aboveall, it reflects a state of spirit, sad and nostalgic, that Lisbon has made its own. During the 19th century, the fado (the song about fate) was sung all over Lisbon, from Calçada de Carriche to the flat-bottomed boats of the River Tagus, through the taverns of Bairro Alto and the narrow streets of Mouraria. The poignant plucking of guitars was heard in Arco do Cego and in Madre de Deus, in Lumiar and in Laranjeiras, in the Quebra-Bilhas tavern and in the bullring at Campo de Santana. The fado was sung markets, in brothels and in palaces.»

LISBOA/LISBON/LISBONNE/LISSABON - A sua história para os turistas / for the tourist who loves History, book by MARINA TAVARES DIAS, 1992.

1825. The sailor's goodbye

terça-feira, 4 de março de 2014


Once it was enough to go inside any of Lisbon’s cafés to get to know the city well. Each and every generation of politicians, artists and writers sat at their tables,  During the mid 19th century, these coffee houses were the meeting places of the privileged and only someone who felt completely at ease with the fashions of the day and the latest literary intrigues would ever be bold enough to enter. The most famous cafés flourishing at the time in the elegant quarter of Chiado, were the Marrare do Polimento (Marrare's Polished-Mosaic Café) and the Café Central. In 1845, two of the most well-known cafés near Rossio (Praça D. João da Câmara) were the Café Suisso (which disappeared in 1954) and Café Martinho (closed down in 1969).


The famous Café Martinho facing the Rossio
train station
(not to mistake with Martinho da Arcada), 
destroyed in 1969, and its successor: yet another bank

segunda-feira, 3 de março de 2014


More than tourism, 
but simple to follow and learn 
when you are there.

by Lisbon's main historian:

« [...] Although Black Horse Square has been called Praça do Comércio ever since the 18th century, there are only a handful of Lisbon residents who do not know it by its former name, Terreiro do Paço, meaning the Palace Grounds. Before the great earthquake which destroyed Lisbon on the morning of November 1st, 1755, it was on this wide space of beaten earth (terreiro) that the royal palace (paço) was situated. 

The chronicles inform us that some of the most valuable artistic treasures of Europe were to be found inside the palace. However, nothing was saved in the aftermath of the earthquake when the tsunami and the fire completed the damage. Under the orders of the Marquis of Pombal, Terreiro do Paço was rebuilt from 1758 onwards. Today it symbolises the post-earthquake era of downtown Lisbon, known as the Baixa. Shortly after being baptized with its new name, Praça do Comércio, it was given Lisbon's first statue of a king riding a horse (D. José I by the sculptor Machado de Castro).»

Marina Tavares Dias

domingo, 2 de março de 2014


A city set on the estuary of a river, white when seen from a distance and golden when looking out from one of the panoramic viewing points as evening approaches. Afterwards, narrow and deserted when going down some of its streets and discovering the usual everyday routes, the traffic and derelict sites – scenes of unhappy endings. The Lisbon which fascinated all its victors is, nevertheless, largely unknown.

Situated as it is in a typically Mediterranean environment, Lisbon's origins as a city probably go back to Roman times. It must have gradually grown outwards from the crown of the hill on which the castle was built, its first inhabitants moving downwards in the direction of the river.

«As much as my gaze searches the fortified walls of St. George's castle, I am hard put to find the first traces of Lisbon», wrote Júlio Castillo, whose name is a «must» in any reference list about the Lisbon. Despite his rather disheartening comment, this did not stop him from publishing 18 volumes about the city's early days.

As early as 2000 BC, there were already people living in the hilly countryside around Lisbon called Serra de Monsanto. Later, ancient Greek and Phoenician ships were to make their way up the Tagus estuary and we cannot dismiss the likelihood of Phoenician etymology lying behind the word «Lisboa» (Alis Ubbo – pleasant little bay). Be that as it may, this conjecture is a lot less fascinating than another possible theory about the city's name which was aired in the 15th and 16th century (although, today, we have to admit that it is only based on legend). It stated that Ulysses, the ancient Greek hero, had given the city its name.

After the conquest of Lusitania and Galicia, Lisbon was occupied by the Romans and, in 205 BC, raised to the status of a municipality under the name Felicitas Julia Olissipo.

The Roman part of the city has survived until the present day but is buried three or four metres under existing buildings. Little by little it is being unearthed although it is almost impossible to dig up and show everything owing to the streets built over it at a later date.

The most famous ruins discovered here include a theatre dedicated to Nero built in 57 AD (underneath the intersection of Rua São Mamede and Rua da Saudade at the top of Rua da Madalena), and the portuary facilities in (now under) Rua da Prata, built when Tiberius was emperor. Both sites were discovered as a result of excavations after the 1755 earthquake.

text and photo