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Bem Vinda!

April 16, 2019

Welcome to Lisbon – the vibrant capital and cosmopolitan city of Portugal

Historically speaking, Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in the world and especially the European Union. This city is older than the likes of London and Paris, essentially predating them by a couple of centuries. Recently, this place has become a hotspot of tourism, startup-incubation, finance sector, and the usual beaches, cultural activities and a vibrant food scene that makes a city, a great cosmopolitan. In the ensuing words, we’ll talk about recent Lisbon history, Lisbon culture, and the contemporary development that makes it a must-see place by travellers all over the word:

A historical vision of Lisbon, Portugal:

One of the first settlement is Lisbon was made by indigenous Celts called the Iberians, which was around 800 – 600 BC. Before them, pre-Celtics used to inhabit (roam) the area during the Neolithic area. Later on, the came the Carthaginians, Romanians, Suebi Visigoths and Moors. By looking at these you can say that Lisbon went through different eras of rule, with each of them leaving some kind of cultural mark in Lisbon history.

Historically, Lisbon is also known for its naturally guarded seaport, and for its proximity with the neighbouring River Tagus. It is because the river and the port are located at a very strategic position and naturally made like a sheltered harbour, where it is also very close to many countries in the Southern and Western Europe, and some countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Its seaport today looks like a menagerie of docks, wharves, and dry ports. Again, historically, it is known for its trade between the Mediterranean, and Europe.   

Romans took over from the Carthaginians after a victory (in the Second Punic War) over them in 205 BC. After the ensuing Roman Empire collapse, Germanic tribes called the Visigoths conquered the Iberian Peninsula, which is now where Lisbon is, in 500 AD, as part of the Visigothic Kingdom. They now called this Peninsula, Hispania.

The Islamic Moors came along in 711 AD, finally taking over the Iberian Peninsula from the Germanic Visigoths, in 714 AD. During the rule of these Islamic Moors, the peninsula came part of their state called Caliphate of Cordoba. After various attempts by many Christian unable to conquer the land again, Afonso (I) was finally able to conquer the land, and then reinstated a Christian rule. Under this rule, a new kingdom was established in the Peninsula, given a new name – The Kingdom of Portugal, and the capital was changed from Coimbra to Lisbon (by Afonso III). King Afonso I, established the independence from the Kingdom of Galicia under the rule of King Leon, who also renamed the Iberian Peninsula as Portugal, which is now what it is known as today. This is a watershed moment for Lisbon history and Lisbon Culture.

After its independence, the city of Portugal, and its capital Lisbon began flourishing, as a city and country, respectively. Especially, in the 16th and 17th Century, the city of Lisbon showed its true potential in terms of trade, exploration (maritime and land), and culture, which was not the like anything else before. This was the time when Portugal became a powerful Kingdom to be reckoned with. Evidence of this era’s wealth can be seen in old architecture that can be seen around the city of Lisbon, which, in turn, contributes to the current Lisbon Culture. During this time, a 1776 earthquake almost ruined to Lisbon and its neighbouring settlements.

Much later in the years 1807 – 1814, Napoleon Bonaparte set his sights on Lisbon, and began a 4-year War, with the Kingdom of Portugal. Again, Lisbon became central to this new war named the Peninsular War. During its aftermath, Brazil was given independence, and Lisbon had descended into Chaos.

Sometime later, the King at the time of the turbulent Republican rising during the 20th Century, King Carlos and his heir to the throne, were assassinated in 1908. This is how the Kingdom of Portugal changed into the Portugal Republic. This brought on the dictatorship of rule Estado Novo. This happened after the Republicans enacted a coup d’etat on the constitutional monarchy, and made the first republic (which was democratic). This was again overthrown by National Dictatorship in 1926 (this was what evolved into the right-wing Estado Novo regime in 1933). This, by far became the longest running dictatorship, in the whole of Western Europe, until it’s fall in 1974.

The Estado Novo’s fall came at the feet of the Carnation Revolution in 1974, which was initiated with a military coup, and was joined by civil resistance. This brought democracy to Portugal (and Lisbon), and it’s decolonization from its African colonies.

In 1986, Portugal joined the European Community, due to which Lisbon entered an era of a lot of infrastructure development. This was because Portugal received funds due to it becoming a member of the European community. A lot of other developments were seen during this time, in the cultural and financial aspect of Lisbon, until the 2008 financial crisis came along. Many international events took place, for example, the 1994 European City of Culture. Like the new democracy, each of its previous rules contributed to Lisbon history and Lisbon cultural in terms of architecture, cuisine, infrastructure, and activities. For example, there are many bullrings found in the city of Lisbon for Matador games, which is linked to the Roman and Spanish Culture.

Lisbon newest Culture and the story of its rise:

Ask any Lisbon tourist guide or a Lisbon tourist to describe the city in one word, they would say it is vibrant. They are essentially describing the onslaught of good things that have overtaken the city, and have made it into a global village. This because a traveler now has the opportunity to take advantage of many increasingly inclusive incentives the city is providing to the travellers. This can be things like low cost of living, inclusive politics, lots of co-working, start-up heaven, fine food cuisine, excellent beaches, and many more. This contributes to Lisbon tourism in a way no one imagines before. The travellers and visitors have gone up from the number of 4.8 million individuals in 1997 to 13 million in 2017. That is a humongous growth rate, at which Lisbon tourism has been growing.

At the heart of this Lisbon tourism (one might say over tourism) boom is the Financial Crisis of 2010 – 2014, because of which Portugal was unable to pay for many of its loans. Before the crisis, there used to be rent controls that essentially made sure that landlords would not be incentivised to renovate the ever-growing dilapidated buildings. This led to lower Lisbon tourism surplus, and all in all less bustle in the city.

After the financial crisis, the Portugal government decided to forgo the rent controls, and let the landowners have the rents agreements of their choice. This led to the renovating many of the buildings, which began to change the exterior of much of the areas in Lisbon. This coupled with the government allowing and creating the “the golden visa” residence permit, started to generate a buzz for the Lisbon tourism industry, essentially not driving up more visitors, but also the money behind them. This led to the tourist industry (and many others in Portugal) changing its landscape.

Lisbon Culture is known for its variance in it through the difference in architecture, events, food, music, sports, and food. There is completely genre of music called FADA, which stems from Lisbon, and originated there in the 1820s. There are many castles and museums located in the city, through which you can admire and absorb its historical culture. Additionally, many different foods and cuisine are available here, including Pasleis de Nala, which is a type of custard that is very much loved by the travelers and locals alike. Many festivals happen here, for which different crowds from all over the world, and from the local areas arrive.

Now Lisbon is considered to be one of the coolest things out there in the world, right there up with digital nomadism, which also brings us to how digital nomadism and Lisbon go hand in hand. Digital nomadism is the modern-day equivalent of nomad lifestyle, where one works on the go remotely, while traveling to different destinations, and the work is usually related to that.

Why Lisbon and Digital Nomadism go hand in hand with each other?

There was a time when one could count the numbers of digital nomads living in Lisbon. But now the landscape has changed drastically, and it has become a hub for digital nomads. This is because there are various reasons for digital nomads to stay here, which are the same reasons many tourists come around here to visit and to live, indefinitely.

Before we go into reasons, we shall tell you something digital nomadism. When one is working as a digital nomad, one may be traveling a lot, which does not mean one does not need to have a base, where one can come to take a salary or relax on the beach. This is where Lisbon comes in, and saves the day.

So having a base of operation is of the essence here, Lisbon culture and surrounding may be a perfect match for digital nomads due to a variety of reasons. For starters, the weather is always great here. Yes, there might be an occasional rainy day here and there (which city doesn’t) but it will be mostly sunny, with a good touch breezy air. The people are great here, who are a lot less judgemental when compared to their contemporary from other European countries.

Additionally, there are many co-working spaces and artist hubs available all around the city that can get the creativity in your rolling. All work and no play can make someone very dull, and too lazy to continue work. This is because, there are many places to relax, like cafes to have a nice brew of coffee, great beaches to have a sun-tan, least but not last, an excellent nightlife. Also, the living costs here, are exceptionally low, which makes this place a perfect opportunity to have a nice time with what you have earned throughout your travels.

Together these things can make this city a great hub for digital nomads. While they should travel all around the world, they can always come to relax and recharge their senses.

How did Lisbon survive after the 2010 – 2014 Portuguese Financial Crisis?

This period turned out the most challenging for this country to survive through, and it did survive through it. While the cracks could be seen in the early 2000s but the 2008 International Recession sped up the processes, which brought upon Portugal Financial Crisis 2010 – 2014 to the doorstep of Portugal. This affected many different industries including Lisbon Tourism and even the Lisbon Culture.

During this time, Portugal applied for a bailout from many international organizations like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and accumulated a sum of 78 billion Euros. During this time Ireland and Greece also applied for bailouts. Together with their crisis and Portugal’s, these are collectively known as the European Debt Crisis. This time for Portugal and Lisbon was marked by severe austerity.

But somethings happen the changed the shape of the diving economy and brought it towards a new rise. It was the rise in tourism and many austerity measures that led the economy back to its track. The tourism we specifically are talking about is Lisbon tourism. Austerity measures like minimizing the credit supply for loans, setting up rent controls, lowering minimum wage, all set it up to its recovery and resurgence. While the locals were fed up with these measures, these were the things that took it from the looming debts, which little might be still there. Because of these measures enacting in a timely manner, led Portugal, and by proxy, Lisbon led to the resurgence of the country and city by paying much of the debts. This, in turn, reduced inflation, dependency on the imports, as now the country was now not dependent on debts anymore, this was the year of 2017, which marked the end of the crisis. When finally austerity measures were stripped off, and instead there were more opportunities being put in place, for example, The golden visa for getting a residence permit, which is allowed through the investment of at least $580,000 and upwards. Foreign investment was being spearheaded more.  Rent controls were taken down, which in turn led to the landowners to renovate the building, which drove up the atmosphere. With these improvements, and relatively low cost of living led to more international visitors. More visitors meant that Lisbon tourism was going uphill, as Lisbon has now become the most popular destination for traveling Portugal. Together with the tourism industry, the GDP is in surplus because of the increase in exports from Portugal, as due to a better economy, there is more manufacturing power and production.

The current vibe of Lisbon Portugal:

The current status of Lisbon as a city is not ever-changing nowadays. The status of the city as a global city because of the incredible benefits it provides to travellers remains the same. People who do come to see its vibrant and colourful world, come again after some time, to revisit the atmosphere in the country, and its most popular city provides. Lisbon culture may not be the same as the capitals of countries like France, and the United Kingdom. Its atmosphere is more absorbable and essentially, more welcoming to the newcomers.

This is why newcomers like coming to this country, especially the ones who are working as digital nomads. The reasons to be here, and vibrant Lisbon Culture, provide the newcomers with ultra big incentive and motivation, to at the very least visit the city, and see it with their own eyes.

The effects of over tourism:

Lisbon tourism is so big now that visitors come in large flocks or at the very least a group of friends, every now and then. International bloggers on social media also like to visit Lisbon a lot. But this large flocks of visitors has led to the phenomena of over tourism. Locals are now frustrated over their jobs being taken over by the international diaspora that now lives in the city. While they are still welcoming, they are also fussing over about how to make ends meet, when their job is overtaken by someone from another country. Many other effects of over tourism are being seen such littering.

Final words:

This is the end of the line here, and we would like to do some recap before bowing out. Here, we have talked about the Lisbon history, Lisbon culture, and Lisbon’s contemporary times of the city of Lisbon, which is the capital of Portugal. Additionally, we also talked about how a crisis changed the whole country, and along with with it the city of Lisbon. We also talked about its relation to digital nomadism. We also dealt with how it is leading to over tourism.


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