Lisbon is the capital of Portugal and lies on the north bank of the Tagus Estuary, on the European Atlantic coast. It is the westernmost city in continental Europe. Greater Lisboa has an area of approximately 1,000 km2.
The city lies more or less in the centre of the country, approximately 300 km from the Algarve in the south and 400 km from the northern border with Spain. Lisbon offers a wide variety of options to the visitor, including beaches, countryside, mountains and areas of historical interest only a few kilometres away from the city centre.
With the beginning of the Portuguese Age of Discoveries, Lisbon enriched as a spice and jewellery trade centre. The breakthrough for Portuguese expansion came in 1498 when Vasco da Gama discovered the sea route to India. This was indeed the beginning of a golden age, characterised by the Manueline architectural style named after King Manuel I, with its typical decorative use of maritime motifs.
Over the centuries Lisbon naturally grew and changed. When the city centre was almost completely destroyed by the earthquake of 1755, it was rebuilt by Marquise de Pombal, who thus created the Baixa Pombalina, a commercial area that still retains much of its original lay out.
Lisbon is a historic capital, a potpourri of unusual character and charm, where 800 years of cultural influences mingle with modern trends and life styles creating spectacular contrasts.