Alcântara Alfama Bairro Alto Baixa Bica Chiado City Center Graça Santa Catarina Santos Estrela


Downtown Lisbon is an 18th-century district, completely rebuilt after the 1755 earthquake which had destroyed most of it. It was Europe's worst-recorded earthquake but it also led to the continent's first neoclassical urban planning with the world's first large-scale earthquake-proof construction. Its grid was given precise geometric specifications and each street was named after different trades (shoes, gilding, saddlery, gold, and silver). The neighbourhood oozes atmosphere with stuck-in-a-time-warp shops, Art Nouveau signs, old men yelling out lottery ticket numbers to sell, African immigrants hanging by Rossio, young skate-boarders in Praça da Figueira, flower vendors, street performers, shoe shiners, and glimpses of the waterfront... Some of the streets are pedestrianised and connect a number of monumental neoclassical squares, from Rossio and its cafés to the waterfront Praça do Comércio overlooked by a triumphal arch, to the attractive Praça do Município. At the moment there are ambitious renovation plans for the entire district, the biggest since the 18th-century reconstruction, in an effort to have it recognised as a World Heritage Site.

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