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Lisbon is the westernmost capital city in continental Europe and is one of the oldest cities of the old continent.
At least with 2700 years old, Lisbon's history is lengthy and complex.
Often repaired and rebuild due to many human interventions as well as several earthquakes, there is evidence for a permanent settlement since at least the VII century B.C..
Along the first millennium B.C., the area was a trading point to the Mediterranean world. By the II century B.C., the first contacts were made with the Romans and the area then known as Olissipo became a Roman Municipium with the Emperor Augustus.
After the VIII century A.C., Lisbon became an important Moorish port and a coastal defensive city, first against the Vikings, later against the progressive Christian Reconquista.
In 1147, the Siege of Lisbon, one of the major events of the Second Crusade, ended a period of more than 400 years of Moorish presence.
The relics of Saint Vincent, the first and still Patron of Lisbon, were then transferred into the city. Because of this, one boat protected by ravens became the symbols of Lisbon in the XIII century. Saint Anthony was born in Lisbon, shortly afterwards, in 1195, and became so popular that the city honored him many centuries later with an annual festival in June, corresponding to Lisbon's official civil holiday.
By the mid-XIII century, with the end of the Portuguese Reconquista, Lisbon became the capital of Portugal (1255) due to its central location and excellent harbour. The following decades the city expanded their comercial relations with Northern Europe.
In the late XIII century, Lisbon was one of Portugal's most important centers for the high culture, and in 1290 the first Portuguese University was founded in the city (later was transfered to Coimbra).
Lisbon became an important international city by the late Middle Ages, starting the Age of the Discoveries in 1415 with a systematic search for wealth overseas, first in North Africa, then for a new way of reaching India by sea, and Lisbon slowly became the capital of an Empire stretching from the shores of China, India, Africa and later mainland Brazil. The eastern empire was sung by Portugal's most important poet, probable Lisbon-born Camões, though he also sung about the inevitable decadence of the country.
In the second half of the XVI century, with the Spanish domination of Portugal (1580-1640), Lisbon did lost some relevance in the international scenery and in 1755 another major earthquake, this time with international repercussion, destroyed much of the medieval and modern Lisbon.
The city was reconstructed by the Minister Marquês de Pombal and today's Lisbon downtown is nicknamed after him (Pombaline Lisbon), and a large statue honours his most significant achievements.
Fado blossomed in the first decades of the 1800's, though it is possible its origin being earlier, an urban song of the Lisbon's poorest and outcast society. Later expanded to common theaters and eventually to aristocratic levels like bullfights and saloon feasts. In the 1900's Fado became more complex, both at literary and musical levels, and gained the proper rituals. Fado itself became the song associated with the city, while the artists (called Fadistas) outreach live Fado houses of the oldest neighbourhoods and became professionals, very popular and successful at national level and later at international level, stars of the radio, commercial music, cinema and television worlds. There's no better example of this progress than Lisbon's iconic figure called Amália Rodrigues.
In the XIX and XX centuries the city also expanded towards north and west sides, with the creation of the so called new-avenues or other large streets that eventually joined into the city several dispersed old places located near Lisbon for centuries, like Campo Grande, Benfica, Lumiar, Carnide and Olivais, while on the other hand expanded to the Belem area. In meantime, the railways arrived at Rossio, the Central Station, in 1891. Three years before, was born in Lisbon another major Portuguese poet, Fernando Pessoa.
Along the XX century, Lisbon was the place of three revolutions (Republican, the Estado Novo regime and the Carnation Revolution in the 25th April 1974, that eventually led Portugal into Democracy), and maintained their urban expansion; the preceding plan of giving to the Monsanto area a vast green area was accomplished, and large hospitals, sports arenas, educational facilities, the airport, one bridge connecting Lisbon to the south margin of the Tagus, new neighbourhoods, meant urban population became much more significant in the centre-north part of the city. Lisbon was also neutral during the World War II, a new place for spies and refugees.
Until the 1950's, the city was connected mainly by trams that became one of Lisbon's trademarks (today's system is reduced to a small fraction of the once large network, due the expansion of the bus and metro systems).
In the late XX and XXI century, new malls gave a different look to the city and several highways were completed as well as a new bridge connecting Lisbon to the eastern margin of the Tagus. Two significant events shaped the city, the first in 1988, when a fire destroyed an important section of Chiado and obliged a restoration of one part of the Pombaline area, and the entire extreme northeast side of Lisbon was renovated to the 1998 World Exposition, giving to the city a futuristic look.
Lisbon is,above all, a combination or a superposition of several cities of several ages.