The name Lisbon (Lisboa) comes from "Olissipo", which has its origins in the Phoenician words "Allis Ubbo", meaning "enchanting port". But Lisbon has, of course, strong Arabic influences; it was, after all, occupied by the Moors for 450 years. In the 12th century the Christians re-conquered the city but it was not until the mid-13th century that Lisbon became the country's capital.
During the 15th century, with the beginning of the Portuguese Age of Discoveries, Lisbon developed into 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 the 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 great earthquake of 1755, it was rebuilt by the Marquis of Pombal, who thus created the Baixa Pombalina, a commercial area that still retains much of its original character. But development did not stop there. The city has grown progressively to the north, and areas such as the Avenidas Novas and the site where Expo '98 took place are typical of this development. The Expo site is now known as the Parque das Nações.
The Lisbon area 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.
These and a wealth of other attractions make Lisbon such a pleasant and hospitable city.
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