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 (1580–1640), 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, 1706–1750), 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 squares—the Rossio and Terreiro do Paço—dominated 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 (1699–1782) 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 .
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, 1706–1712.
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, 1882–1911.
Levenson, Jay. The Age of the Baroque in Portugal. New Haven, 1993.
LISBON , capital of *Portugal.
The Middle Ages
Jews were apparently settled in Lisbon in the 12th century, at the time of the conquest of the territory from the Moors and the establishment of the kingdom of Portugal by Affonso i (1139–85). For a period of two centuries they appear to have lived in tranquility, sharing the lot of their coreligionists in the rest of the country. Many Jews were prominent in court circles as tax farmers, physicians, or astronomers; the almoxarife Dom Joseph ibn Yaḥya, descendant of a family founded by a Jew who accompanied the first king on his conquest of the country, constructed a magnificent synagogue at his own expense in 1260. The great esnoga of Lisbon was built by the Arraby Mór Dom Judah son of Guedalya in 1306–7, according to the foundation stone that was discovered after the earthquake of 1755. This was the synagogue where Isaac Abrabanel and his family prayed. The synagogue was situated in Vila Nova, which was previously known as Judaria Grande. When the religious and political organization of the communities of Portugal was revised by Affonso iii (1248–79), Lisbon became the official seat of the *arraby mór, or chief rabbi. The most important incumbent of this office was Dom Moses Navarro, physician to Pedro i (1357–67), who, with his wife, acquired a large landed property near Lisbon.
This initial period of prosperity came to an end in the reign of Ferdinand i (1367–83). When Lisbon was captured by the Castilian troops in 1373, the Jewish quarter was sacked and many Jews killed. After the king's death, the Jews were considered by the populace to be at the root of the rapacious policies of the queen dowager Leonora – notwithstanding the fact that she had deposed the Jewish collector of taxes at Lisbon, as well as Dom Judah, the former royal treasurer. A popular revolt led to the accession to the throne of the master of Aviz, the first of a new dynasty. The feeling in Lisbon against the Jews became extreme, and the people wished to take violent steps to discover the treasures left by the late instrument of royal greed. An anti-Jewish reaction followed in the political sphere. Nevertheless, the new king (known as John i) did his best to protect the Jews against actual violence, though they were henceforth excluded from the positions of trust they had formerly occupied and were forced to make disproportionate contributions to the gift exacted by the city for presentation to the new king. Toward the close of his life, the latter became a little more tolerant. There was a reaction, however, under his son, Duarte (1433–38), who attempted to enforce the complete separation of Jews and Christians. This led to a protest by the community of Lisbon, and as a consequence the severity of the recent decree was mitigated (1436).
Persecution and Expulsion
Popular feeling, nevertheless, continued to be antagonistic. In 1455, the Côrtes of Lisbon demanded restrictions against the Jews. The Portuguese sovereigns had not permitted the wave of rioting which swept through the Iberian Peninsula in 1391 to penetrate into their dominions. Nevertheless, as a result of some disorder in the fish market, there was a serious anti-Jewish outbreak in Lisbon toward the close of 1449 which led to many deaths, and another (in the course of which Isaac *Abrabanel's library was destroyed) in 1482. Owing to the tolerant if grasping policy of John ii, a number of the exiles from Spain were allowed to enter Lisbon after the expulsion of 1492. Their crowded living conditions led to an outbreak of the plague and the city council had them driven beyond the walls. Royal influence, however, secured the exemption from this decree of Samuel Nayas, the procurator of the Castilian Jews, and Samuel Judah, a prominent physician.
When in 1496/97 the Jews were to be expelled from Portugal, Lisbon alone was assigned to them as a port of embarkation. Assembling there from every part of the country, they were herded in turn into a palace known as Os Estãos, generally used for the reception of foreign ambassadors; here the atrocities of forced conversion were perpetrated. Some were killed, including well-known rabbis, such as Rabbi Shimon Maimi, originally from Segovia, who was killed in 1497. Thus, the community of Lisbon, with all the others of Portugal, was driven to embrace a titular Christianity. In the period immediately before and after the general expulsion, however, some individuals managed to escape. They probably contributed a majority of the members to the "Portuguese" synagogues in various places in the Turkish Empire, such as Smyrna (*Izmir), while at *Salonika and elsewhere they established separate congregations which long remained known by the name of "the kahal of Lisbon" or "kahal Portugal."
Lisbon was the seat of the most tragic events in *Converso history during the course of the subsequent period. On Whitsunday, 1503, a quarrel in the Rua Nova (the former Jewish quarter) between some *New Christians and a riotous band of youths led to a popular uprising, which was suppressed only with difficulty. In 1506, on the night of April 7, a number of New Christians were surprised celebrating the Passover together. They were arrested, but released after only two days' imprisonment. On April 19 trouble began again, owing to the conduct of a Converso who scoffed at a miracle which was reported to have taken place in the Church of Santo Domingo. He was dragged out of the church and butchered, and a terrible massacre began – subsequently known as A Matança dos Christãos Novos ("The slaying of the New Christians"). The number of victims was reckoned at between two and four thousand, one of the most illustrious being João Rodriguez Mascarenhas, a wealthy tax farmer and reputedly the most hated man in Lisbon. Sailors from the Dutch, French, and German ships lying in the harbor landed to assist in the bloody work. The king, Manoel, sharply punished this outbreak, temporarily depriving Lisbon of its erstwhile title "Noble and Always Loyal," fining the town heavily, and executing a number of the ringleaders.
The visit of David *Reuveni (c. 1525), and the open conversion to Judaism of Diogo Pires (subsequently known as Solomon *Molcho), created a great stir amongst the Lisbon Conversos. They were foremost in attempting to combat the introduction of the Inquisition into Portugal, but their efforts were in vain. Lisbon itself became the seat of a tribunal of the Holy Office and on Sept. 20, 1540, the initial Portuguese auto-da-f é took place in the capital – the first of a long series which continued over more than two centuries. Throughout this period, the Lisbon tribunal was the most active in the whole country. Inquisitional martyrs who perished there included Luis *Dias, "the Messiah of Setúbal," together with his adherents, the pseudo-prophet Master Gabriel, and the mystical poet Gonçalo Eannes Bandarra, an "Old Christian" (1542 etc.); Frei Diogo da Assumpçao (Aug. 3, 1603); António *Homem, the "Praeceptor Infelix," and others of his circle (May 5, 1624); Manuel Fernandes *Villareal, the statesman and poet (Dec. 1, 1652); Isaac de Castro *Tartas, with other Conversos captured in Brazil (Dec. 15, 1647); António Cabicho, with his clerk Manoel de Sandoval (Dec. 26, 1684); Miguel (Isaac) Henriques da Fonseca, with António de Aguiar (alias Aaron Cohen Faya), and Gaspar (Abraham) Lopez Pereira, all of whom were mourned by Amsterdam poets and preachers as martyrs (May 10, 1681).
At times during the Inquisition period, the New Christians as such suffered. Thus, for example, when in 1630 a theft occurred at the Church of Santa Engrácia at Lisbon, suspicion automatically fell on the New Christians. A youth named Simão Pires Solis was cruelly put to death; the streets of the capital were placarded with inflammatory notices; the preachers inveighed from the pulpits against the "Jews"; and 2,000 persons are said to have fled from Lisbon alone. Similarly, in 1671, when a common thief stole a consecrated pyx from the Church of Orivellas at Lisbon, suspicion again fell on the Conversos and an edict was actually issued banishing them from the country (but not put into effect). From the accession of the House of Bragança in 1640 the power of the Portuguese Inquisition had been restrained in some measure, and its suspension by Pope Clement X in 1674 gave the New Christians some respite, but it proved little less terrible than before on its resumption in 1681. After the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–14), there seems to have been a recrudescence of inquisitional power, and, in the subsequent period, it became customary to send to Lisbon for punishment all those persons found guilty by the other tribunals of the realm. An auto-da-fé held at Lisbon in 1705 was the occasion of the famous and savage sermon of the archbishop of Cranganur, which in turn provoked David *Nieto's scathing rejoinder. At the Lisbon auto-da-fé of Sept. 24, 1752, 30 men and 27 women were summoned – all but 12 for Judaizing. In addition to these, three persons were burned in effigy.
The Lisbon earthquake of 1755 allowed many Conversos, together with those incarcerated in the dungeons of the Inquisition, to escape, and prompted others to make their way to open communities overseas. After this, no further Judaizers suffered in the capital; the last victim of the Lisbon tribunal was Father Gabriel Malagrida – a Jesuit. The reforms of the Marquês de Pombal put an end to all juridical differences between Old Christians and New (1773), and the Conversos of Lisbon disappeared as a separate class, although there were many families who continued to preserve distinct traces of their Jewish origin.
The Renewed Community
The close association of Portugal with England, and the position of Lisbon as an intermediate port between Gibraltar and England, made it inevitable that a Jewish settlement would be established in the city as soon as Jews could land with safety. By the middle of the 18th century, some individuals had found their way there and began to practice Jewish rites privately, under the security of British protection. Most of them originated from Gibraltar, though there were some from North Africa and one or two families direct from England. In 1801, a small piece of ground was leased for use as a cemetery. The services rendered to the city by certain Jewish firms at the time of the famine of 1810 improved their status, and in 1813, under the auspices of a certain R. Abraham Dabella, a congregation was formally founded. The condition of the Jews in Lisbon at this period is unsympathetically portrayed by George Borrow, in his classical The Bible in Spain (1843); while Israel Solomon, an early inhabitant, gives an intimate glimpse in his memoirs (F.I. Schechter in ajhsp, 25 (1917), 72–73). A little later in the century, two other synagogues (one of which is still in existence) were founded. In 1868, the community received official recognition for the first time. It was, however, recognized as a Jewish "colony," not "community," and the new synagogue (Shaare Tikvah) constructed in 1902 was not allowed to bear any external signs of being a place of worship. Complete equality was attained only with the revolution of 1910. Until the outbreak of World War i, the vast majority of the community was Sephardim, mostly from Gibraltar and North Africa, and many of them still retained their British citizenship. Subsequently, however, there was a very large Ashkenazi influx from Eastern Europe. During World War ii, about 45,000 refugees from Nazi persecution arrived in Portugal, and passed mainly through Lisbon, on their way to the free world. In Lisbon they were assisted by a relief committee headed by M. Bensabat *Amzalak and A.D. Esagny. The Jews of Lisbon numbered 400 in 1947, and 600 in 2005. In addition to the two synagogues, there was a cultural center and a home for the aged.
In the Middle Ages, Lisbon did not play a very important part in Jewish scholarship. The most illustrious scholars associated with it are the *Ibn Yahya family. It was also the birthplace of Isaac Abrabanel, who did much of his literary work there, while Joseph *Vecinho, Abraham *Zacuto, and other notable scholars are associated with the city in the period after the expulsion from Spain. *Levi b. Ḥabib also passed his early years in Lisbon. Many of the most illustrious Conversos who attained distinction in the communities of Amsterdam or elsewhere were also natives of Lisbon – men like Moses Gideon Abudiente, Zacutus *Lusitanus (Abraham Zacuto), Paul de Pina (Reuel *Jesurun), Abraham Farrar, Duarte Nunes da Costa, Duarte da Silva, and perhaps *Manasseh Ben Israel. The outstanding figure in the modern community of Lisbon was Moses Bensabat Amzalak, who was important in public, economic, and intellectual life, as well as being a prolific writer on Jewish subjects.
A Hebrew printing press was active in Lisbon from 1489 to at least 1492 (see *Incunabula) and was closely connected with that of *Híjar, Spain, from which it took over the excellent type, decorated borders, and initials. After 1491 a new type was used. The founder of the Lisbon press was the learned and wealthy Eliezer b. Jacob Toledano (in whose house it operated), assisted by his son Zacheo, Judah Leon Gedaliah, Joseph Khalfon, and Meir and David ibn *Yaḥya. Their first production was Naḥmanides' Pentateuch commentary (1489); in the same year Eleazar Altansi brought out David Abudraham's prayer book. Other works printed in Lisbon are Joshua b. Joseph of Tlemcen's Halikhot Olam (1490); the Pentateuch with Onkelos and Rashi in 1491 (text with the vowel and cantillation signs); Isaiah and Jeremiah with David Kimḥi's commentary (1492); Proverbs with David ibn Yaḥya's commentary Kav ve-Naki (1492); Tur Oraḥ Ḥayyim (also 1492?), and Maimonides' Hilkhot Sheḥitah. No other productions have been preserved apart from a fragment from a Day of Atonement mahzor, which may have come from this press. On the expulsion from Portugal in 1497, the printers – taking their type, tools, and expertise with them – found refuge in *Constantinople, *Salonika, and *Fez where they continued to produce beautiful books.
Roth, Marranos, index; J. Mendes dos Remédios, Os judeus em Portugal, 2 vols. (1895–1928), index; S. Schwarz, Inscripções hebraicas em Portugal (1923); M.B. Amzalak, Tipographia hebraica em Portugal no século xv (1922); M. Kayserling, Geschichte der Juden in Portugal (1867); J.L. d'Azevedo, Históa dos Christãos Novos Portuguêses (1921), index; King Manuel (of Portugal), Early Portuguese Books: 1489–1600 (1929), 1, 23–43; J. Bloch, Early Printing in Spain and Portugal (1938), 32–35; B. Friedberg, Toledot ha-Defus ha-Ivri be-Italyah (19562), 102–4. add. bibliography: S. Schwarz, A sinagoga de Alfama (1953); H.B. Moreno, "O assalto à judiaria grande de Lisboa em dezembro de 1449," in: Revista de ciências do honem, 3 (1970), 207–53 (=reprinted in: idem, Tenso~es sociais em Portugal na idade media (1977), and in: idem, Marginalidade e conflitossociais em Portugal nos séculos xiv e xv (1985), 89–132); Y.H. Yerushalmi, The Lisbon Massacre of 1506 and the Royal Image in the "Shebet Yehudah" (1976); T. Metzger, Les manuscrits hébreux copiés et décorés à Lisbonne dan les dernières décennies du xve siècle (1977); A. de Vasconcelos Simão, in: Armas e troféus, 3, sér., 6 (1977), 216–35; A.M. Salgado, in: Cultura, história e filosofia, 5 (1986), 653–69; R. Faingold, in: Zion, 54 (1989), 118–24; E. Lipiner, Two Portuguese Exiles in Castile (1997), 148–58.
For purposes of commerce, colonization, or warfare, Lisbon provides the best deepwater harbor in southwest Europe. Prevailing Atlantic wind and current patterns give Lisbon a geographic advantage for shipping bound from northern Europe to the Mediterranean, West Africa, Asia (by either cape route), and the Americas. Voyages of discovery by Bartolomeu Dias (Cape of Good Hope), Vasco da Gama (India), and Pedro Álvares Cabral (Brazil) all departed from Lisbon; the port was Columbus's first European landfall after his pathfinding Caribbean voyage, and the Spanish Armada fitted out there in 1588.
From 1415 to 1975, Lisbon was the imperial governing center and principal trade hub of a worldwide colonial and commercial network. The Portuguese economy of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was based on spices and luxury goods from Asia; sugar and tobacco from Madeira, the Azores, and later Brazil; and salt from southern Portugal. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the imperial economy shifted decisively to the Atlantic: The mainstays were Brazilian gold and leather, Angolan slaves, and Portuguese wine. Foreign investment supported early trade with Asia; German Fuggers, Venetian merchants, and the Medici all provided finance to the Portuguese crown in the sixteenth century.
Because few export commodities originated in the metropolis, Portuguese fiscal policy depended on the re-export of colonial goods through Lisbon. Portugal maintained a mercantilist economy from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century, deriving most state income (approximately 65%) through seaborne trade. Primary revenue sources included customs duties and consular charges, taxes on tobacco production, and the crown's 20 percent share of Brazilian gold imports. During the eighteenth century, Brazilian bullion imports flowing through Lisbon stimulated economic activity across Europe. Until the devastating earthquake in 1755, royal officials (desembargadores) conducted customs (alfândega) and accounting procedures at the Casa da Índia, adjacent to the Lisbon waterfront palace in Lisbon. The crown participated actively in maritime trade through lucrative royal monopolies.
Britain was Portugal's most important trading partner and oldest ally; English commerce annually accounted for more than half of Lisbon's total trade volume. Britain's North American colonies absorbed a large share of Portuguese exchange. Several export industries—in particular salt, olive oil, fruits, and Madeira wine—depended on markets in North America. Lisbon's other principle trading partners included the Flemish, Dutch, French, Italians, Danes, and Swedes.
A treaty concluded with Oliver Cromwell in 1654 allowed the establishment of a resident English merchant community in Lisbon. The Methuen Treaty (1703) cemented conditions for Anglo-Portuguese commercial ties that continued into the nineteenth century. In exchange for the duty-free entrance of English woolens into Portugal, the Portuguese received a favored status on Port wine, taxed at one-third less than French wines sent to Britain.
Portugal's economic vitality depended on colonies. Maintaining the integrity of the Portuguese colonial system, and even national independence, required appeasement and cooperation with all threatening neighbors. Portugal, a second-tier European power lacking population and adequate defenses and dependent on food imports, often had to maintain neutrality between warring European power blocs, to keep trade links open with both sides.
British pressure compelled the Portuguese to close their ports to shipping from the rebellious United States (1776–1783); trade exigencies then dictated that Portugal become the first nation to recognize U.S. sovereignty following hostilities. During World War II, when British, American, and German agents operated there, neutral Lisbon was a scene of Allied/Axis intrigue. Lisbon today remains an important commercial port, a center of ship repair, and a base of NATO maritime operations.
SEE ALSO Agriculture; Albuquerque, Afonso de; Angola; Bahia; Cargoes, Freight; Cargoes, Passenger; Chambers of Commerce; Containerization; Empire, Portuguese; Free Ports; Gama, Vasco da; Harbors; Pombal, MarquÈs de; Port Cities; Portugal; Spices and the Spice Trade.
Fisher, Harold Edward Stephen. The Portugal Trade: A Study of Anglo-Portuguese Commerce, 1700–1770. London: Methuen, 1971.
Hanson, Carl A. Economy and Society in Baroque Portugal, 1668–1703. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1981.
Russell-Wood, A. J. R. A World on the Move: The Portuguese in Africa, Asia and America, 1415–1808. London: Carcenet Press, 1992.
Walker, Timothy D. "Lisbon as a Strategic Haven in the Atlantic World." In The Atlantic World: Essays on Slavery, Migration and Imagination, eds. Wim Klooster and Alfred Padula. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2004.
Timothy D. Walker
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).
Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, played a key role in the sudden rise and fall of that nation's economy and culture during the Renaissance. Improvements to Lisbon's seaport in the 1300s increased trade with northern and Mediterranean cities, and the enlargement of the city's walls helped unify Lisbon.
In the 1400s and early 1500s, Portuguese voyages of exploration and conquest in Africa and Asia had a considerable impact on Lisbon. Gold, exotic goods, and African slaves flowed into Lisbon and led to a reorganization of the city. In 1505 King Manuel I moved the royal residence from an old hilltop fortress to a newly built palace along the banks of the Tagus River. This change signaled a shift in the city's outlook to a broader perspective focused on empire and commerce.
The monarchy, noble families, and newly prosperous bankers and merchants erected many public and private buildings in Lisbon. The population surged as peasants arrived from the countryside in search of work and opportunities. However, public services were poor and unreliable in this rapidly growing urban center. As the slave population increased and the promise of quick riches drew many to Lisbon, critics wrote mournfully about the decay of society.
The fortunes of Lisbon and Portugal took a turn for the worse in the 1500s. The city led the nation into economic decline, and the Portuguese monarchy collapsed in 1578. These developments opened the door for Spanish king Philip II to take control of the country. Although Lisbon kept its status as a capital, it owed taxes to Spain's rulers. Portugal's independence was not restored until 1640.
During the years of prosperity, literature and humanist* writing thrived in Lisbon, stimulated by contact with Italy, France, Spain, and northern European countries. However, Portuguese painters and architects tended to resist the new styles of the Renaissance. Until the mid-1500s, most architects continued to build Gothic* structures, such as the Tower of Belém fortress.
- * humanist
referring to a Renaissance cultural movement promoting the study of the humanities (the languages, literature, and history of ancient Greece and Rome) as a guide to living
- * Gothic
style of architecture characterized by pointed arches and high, thin walls supported by flying buttresses; also, artistic style marked by bright colors, elongated proportions, and intricate detail
Lisbon ★★ 1956
First film directed by Milland, shot in Portugal, details the adventures of a sea captain entangled in international espionage and crime while attempting to rescue damsel O'Hara's husband from communist doings. A familiar plot told with less-than-average panache. 90m/C VHS . Ray Milland, Claude Rains, Maureen O'Hara, Francis Lederer, Percy Marmont; D: Ray Milland.