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Lisbon

LISBON

LISBON. Portugal's capital stood as the key city for exploration of the south Atlantic and Indian Oceans as well as one of Europe's most important ports. Lisbon was also the center of Portugal's domestic economy. During the rise of Portugal's maritime empire, its large and strategic harbor became a major entrepôt for slaves, ivory, spices, silk, sugar, salt, and other commodities. By 1550 its population had risen to 100,000, making Lisbon one of Europe's largest cities. Thereafter, the decline in Portugal's Asian empire, together with the union with Spain, slowed Lisbon's demographic and economic growth. After 1705, Brazilian gold and diamonds revitalized the city's economic and political importance, and by 1750, Lisbon held at least 250,000 people, or approximately one tenth of Portugal's total population. All growth stopped, however, with the 1755 earthquake and its the subsequent fire, which destroyed much of the city. Rebuilding slowed with the end of the Brazilian gold rush, and Lisbon never regained its former prominence. By 1800, its population stood at less than 170,000.

The early sixteenth century saw the creation of a particularly Portuguese architectural style called Manueline, whose motifs reflected Portugal's overseas successes and whose monuments are prominent in Lisbon. The building activity brought about by the empire's wealth substantially diminished during Portugal's union with Spain (15801640), which coincided with economic difficulties that affected much of Europe. Vernacular architecture particularly declined as the court and much of Portugal's social and economic elite moved to Madrid. That decline continued after independence in the late seventeenth century. Both the crown and the nobility had become too impoverished to construct palaces or large public buildings. Building activities renewed during John V's reign (João, 17061750), when wealth from the Brazilian gold rush created an economic boom that led to the construction of new palaces, an opera house, and the Lisbon aqueduct.

Lisbon retained its medieval and Renaissance character throughout the early modern era. Its major commercial, religious, and political structures remained inside city walls. Towering over the skyline rose the castelo São Jorge, the Carmo monastery, and the Royal Hospital of All Saints, while the Royal Palace (Paço de Ribeira), the dockyards with its customhouses, and the two great squaresthe Rossio and Terreiro do Paçodominated its foreground. On Lisbon's nearly 370 streets stood twenty thousand houses and over two thousand stores, interspersed with over a hundred churches, monasteries, and convents.

From a distance, travelers in the early eighteenth century described Lisbon as one of the world's most beautiful cities. The city stood on a series of hills within what appeared to be a naturally formed amphitheater. Such impressions changed on arrival, however. John V placed absolutism above economic and urban development. Thus, despite the wealth from Brazil, Lisbon's infrastructure and its commercial facilities had badly deteriorated by the mid-eighteenth century. Poor-quality mortar caused old building walls to collapse on unwary pedestrians. Steep, ill-maintained streets were too narrow for coaches and created health hazards from waste flowing downward toward the city's center. Lisbon was also one of Europe's most dangerous cities. Astonishingly, despite the importance of commerce, the city had neither a permanent bourse nor a separate structure for its municipal council. Instead, merchants, brokers, and contractors conducted their dealings around Businessmen's Square, while the municipal council usually met in Saint Anthony's Church.

The November 1755 earthquake caused catastrophic mortality (it is estimated that from ten to thirty thousand lives were lost), and unprecedented destruction. The earthquake and the subsequent fire and tidal wave destroyed approximately seventeen thousand houses, the city center and docks, and countless cultural treasures. The appalling scale of the destruction initiated an international debate over the concepts of optimism and evil. Politically, the disaster precipitated the marquis de Pombal's rise to power as Portugal's strongman for the next two decades.

Pombal (16991782) sought to rebuild Lisbon symbolically as well as physically. He envisioned an imperial capital reflecting a reformed and commercially centered Portugal. Because lack of funds and resources prohibited rebuilding the entire city, construction efforts focused on the lower section. Central Lisbon was reestablished on a grid pattern of wide streets and avenues featuring two large squares. Pombal mandated that all new structures conform to certain rules regarding size and architectural style. The enormous Praça do Comércio, which occupied the area where the royal palace and its surrounding ground had stood, most visibly represented Pombal's commercial focus. Colonial taxes largely underwrote the enormous cost of construction.

After 1760 the rapid decline in Brazilian gold production impeded rebuilding, and travelers still spoke of ruined structures in the early nineteenth century. The French 1807 invasion, followed by Brazilian independence, heavily damaged Portugal's entire economy. Whereas Lisbon remained one of Europe's most important port cities, it never again approached its previous economic prominence.

See also Portugal ; Portuguese Colonies: Brazil .

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Castelo-Branco, Fernando. Lisboa Seiscentista. 3rd rev. ed. Lisbon, 1969.

Costa, Padre António Carvalho da. Corografia Portuguesa e descripçno topográfica do famoso reino de Portugal. 3 vols. Lisbon, 17061712.

França, José-Augusto. Lisboa pombalina e o iluminismo. Rev. ed. Lisbon, 1977.

Freire de Oliveira, Eduardo. Elementos para a História do Municipio de Lisboa. 17 vols. Lisbon, 18821911.

Levenson, Jay. The Age of the Baroque in Portugal. New Haven, 1993.

William Donovan

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Lisbon

Lisbon (lĬz´bən), Port. Lisboa, ancient Olisipo, city (1991 pop. 677,790), W Portugal, capital of Portugal and of Lisboa dist., on the Tagus River where it broadens to enter the Atlantic Ocean. Lisbon is Portugal's largest city and its cultural, administrative, commercial, and industrial hub. It has one of the best harbors in Europe, handling a large trade, and it has become a major cruise port. Agricultural and forest products and fish are exported. The city's industries include the production of textiles, chemicals, and steel; oil and sugar refining; and shipbuilding. A large transient and tourist trade is drawn to Lisbon, which is set on seven terraced hills.

The Castelo de São Jorge, a fort that dominates the city, may have been built by the Romans on the site of the citadel of the early inhabitants, who traded with Phoenician and Carthaginian navigators. The Romans occupied the town in 205 BC It was conquered by the Moors in 714. The city's true importance dates, however, from 1147, when King Alfonso I, with the help of Crusaders, drove out the Moors. Alfonso III transferred (c.1260) his court there from Coimbra, and the city rose to great prosperity in the 16th cent. with the establishment of Portugal's empire in Africa and India.

Although many of the old buildings were destroyed by earthquakes, particularly the disastrous earthquake of 1755, some of the medieval buildings remain. The old quarter, the picturesque and crowded Alfama, surrounds the 12th-century Romanesque cathedral (rebuilt later). The new quarter, built by the marqués de Pombal after the great earthquake, centers about a large square, the Terreiro do Paço. Some well-known buildings in and near Lisbon are the Renaissance Monastery of São Vicente de Fora, with the tombs of the Braganza kings; the Church of St. Roque, with the fine Chapel of St. John (built by John V in the 18th cent.); and the magnificent monastery at Belém, on the north bank of the Tagus facing the sea, built by Manuel I to commemorate the discovery of the route to India by Vasco da Gama.

Among the city's many art museums are the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, the Modern Art Center, and the Ancient Art Museum; there are also museums devoted to archeology, seafaring, science, coaches, and other fields and specialties. The Univ. of Lisbon (founded 1292, but transferred to Coimbra in 1537), was reestablished in Lisbon in 1911, and the Portuguese poet Camões was born in Lisbon. In 1966 the Ponte 25 de Abril (25th of April Bridge), one of the world's longest (3,323 ft/1,013 m) suspension bridges, was completed across the Tagus. A world's fair was held in the city in 1998, and it left Lisbon with a new aquarium, the Oceanarium, and a large park, the Parque das Nações, as well as the 10-mi (17-km) Vasco da Gama bridge, which crosses the Tagus and has a cable-stayed main span.

See D. Wright and P. Swift, Lisbon (1971).

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Lisbon

Lisbon (Lisboa) Capital, largest city, and chief port of Portugal, at the mouth of the River Tagus, on the Atlantic Ocean. An ancient Phoenician settlement, the Romans conquered the city in 205 bc. After Teutonic invasions in the 5th century ad, it fell to the Moors in 716. In 1147, the Portuguese reclaimed Lisbon, and in 1260 it became the capital. It declined under Spanish occupation (1580–1640). In 1755, an earthquake devastated the city and Marques de Pombal oversaw its reconstruction. An international port and tourist centre, sights include the 16th-century Tower of Belém and the 15th-century Jerónimos Monastery. Industries: steel, shipbuilding, chemicals. Pop. (2001) 556,797; 2,612,300 (metropolitan).

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Lisbon

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