1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Lisbon
LISBON (Lisboa), the capital of the kingdom of Portugal and of the department of Lisbon; on the right bank of the river Tagus, near its entrance into the Atlantic Ocean, in 38° 42′ 24″ N. and 9° 11′ 10″ W. Pop. (1900) 356,009. Lisbon, the westernmost of European capitals, is built in a succession of terraces up the sides of a range of low hills, backed by the granite mountains of Cintra. It fronts the Tagus, and the view from the river of its white houses, and its numerous parks and gardens, is comparable in beauty with the approach to Naples or Constantinople by sea. The lower reaches of the estuary form a channel (Entrada do Tejo) about 2 m. wide and 8 m. long, which is partially closed at its mouth by a bar of silt. Owing to the reclamation of the foreshore on the right, and the consequent narrowing of the waterway, the current flows very swiftly down this channel, which is the sole outlet for the immense volume of water accumulated in the Rada de Lisboa—a tidal lake formed by the broadening of the estuary in its upper part to fill a basin 11 m. long with an average breadth of nearly 7 m. The southern or left shore of the channel rises sharply from the water’s edge in a line of almost unbroken though not lofty cliffs; the margin of the lake is flat, marshy and irregular. Lisbon extends for more than 5 m. along the shores of both channel and lake, and for more than 3 m. inland. Its suburbs, which generally terminate in a belt of vineyards, parks or gardens, interspersed with villas and farms, stretch in some cases beyond the Estrada Militar, or Estrada da Nova Circumvallação, an inner line of defence 25 m. long, supplementary to the forts and other military works at the mouth of the Tagus, on the heights of Cintra and Alverca, and at Caxias, Sacavem, Monsanto and Ameixoeira. The climate of Lisbon is mild and equable, though somewhat oppressive in summer. Extreme cold is so rare that in the twenty years 1856–1876 snow fell only thrice; and in the 18th and early 19th centuries Lisbon was justly esteemed as a winter health-resort. The mean annual temperature is 60·1° F., the mean for winter 50·9°, the average rainfall 29·45 in. As in 1906, when no rain fell between April and September, long periods of drought are not uncommon, although the proximity of the Atlantic and the frequency of sea-fogs keep the atmosphere humid; the mean atmospheric moisture is nearly 71 (100=saturation). There is a good water supply, conveyed to the city by two vast aqueducts. The older of these is the Aqueducto das Aguas Livres, which was built in the first half of the 18th century and starts from a point near Bellas, 15 m. W.N.W. Its conduits, which are partly underground, are conveyed across the Alcantara valley through a magnificent viaduct of thirty-five arches, exceeding 200 ft. in height. At the Lisbon end of the aqueduct is the Mae d’Agua (i.e. “Mother of Water”), containing a huge stone hall in the midst of which is the reservoir. The Alviella aqueduct, opened in 1880, brings water from Alviella near Pernes, 70 m. N.N.E. Numerous fountains are among the means of distribution. Sewage is discharged into the Tagus, and the sanitation of the city is good, except in the older quarters.
Divisions of the City.—The four municipal districts (bairros) into which Lisbon is divided are the Alfama, or old town, in the east; the Cidade Baixa, or lower town, which extends inland from the naval arsenal and custom house; the Bairro Alto, comprising all the high ground west of the Cidade Baixa; and the Alcantara, or westernmost district, named after the small river Alcantara, which flows down into the Tagus. Other names commonly used, though unofficial, are “Lisboa Oriental” as an alternative for Alfama; “Lisboa Occidental” for the slopes which lead from the Cidade Baixa to the Bairro Alto; “Buenos Ayres” (originally so named from the number of its South American residents) for the Bairro Alto S.W. of the Estrella Gardens and E. of the Necessidades Park; “Campo de Ourique” and “Rato” for the suburbs respectively N.W. and N.E. of Buenos Ayres.
The Alfama.—The Alfama, which represents Roman and Moorish Lisbon, is less rich in archaeological interest than its great antiquity might suggest, although parts of a Roman temple, baths, &c., have been disinterred. But as the earthquake of 1755 did comparatively little damage to this quarter, many of its narrow, steep and winding alleys retain the medieval aspect which all other parts of the city have lost; and almost rival the slums of Oporto in picturesque squalor. The most conspicuous feature of the Alfama is the rocky hill surmounted by the Castello de São Jorge, a Moorish citadel which has been converted into a fort and barracks. The Sé Patriarchal, a cathedral founded in 1150 by Alphonso I., is said by tradition to have been a Moorish mosque. It was wrecked by an earthquake in 1344 and rebuilt in 1380, but the earthquake of 1755 shattered the dome, the roof and belfry were subsequently burned, and after the work of restoration was completed the choir and façade were the only parts of the 14th-century Gothic church unspoiled. In one of the side chapels is the tomb of St Vincent (d. 304), patron saint of Lisbon; a pair of ravens kept within the cathedral precincts are popularly believed to be the same birds which, according to the legend, miraculously guided the saint’s vessel to the city. The armorial bearings of Lisbon, representing a ship and two ravens, commemorate the legend. Other noteworthy buildings in the Alfama are the 12th-century church of São Vicente de Fóra, originally, as its name implies, “outside” the city; the 13th-century chapel of Nossa Senhora do Monte; the 16th-century church of Nossa Senhora da Graça, which contains a reputed wonder-working statue of Christ and the tomb of Alphonso d’Albuquerque (1453–1515); and a secularized Augustinian monastery, used as the archbishop’s palace.
Modern Lisbon.—West of the Alfama the city dates chiefly from the period after the great earthquake. Its lofty houses, arranged in long straight streets, its gardens and open spaces, a few of its public buildings, and almost all its numerous statues and fountains, will bear comparison with those of any European capital. The centre of social and commercial activity is the district which comprises the Praça do Commercio, Rua Augusta, Rocío, and Avenida da Liberdade, streets and squares occupying the valley of a vanished tributary of the Tagus. The Praça do Commercio is a spacious square, one side of which faces the river, while the other three sides are occupied by the arcaded buildings of the custom house, post office and other government property. In the midst is a bronze equestrian statue of Joseph I., by J. M. de Castro, which was erected in 1775 and gives point to the name of “Black Horse Square” commonly applied to the Praça by the British. A triumphal arch on the north side leads to Rua Augusta, originally intended to be the cloth-merchants’ street; for the plan upon which Lisbon was rebuilt after 1755 involved the restriction of each industry to a specified area. This plan succeeded in the neighbouring Rua Aurea and Rua da Prata, still, as their names indicate, famous for goldsmiths’ and silversmiths’ shops. Rua Augusta terminates on the north in the Rocío or Praça de Dom Pedro Quarto, a square paved with mosaic of a curious undulatory pattern and containing two bronze fountains, a lofty pillar surmounted by a statue of Pedro IV., and the royal national theatre (Theatro de Dona Maria Segunda), erected on the site which the Inquisition buildings occupied from 1520 to 1836. The narrow Rua do Principe, leading past the central railway station, a handsome Mauresque building, connects the Rocío with the Avenida da Liberdade, one of the finest avenues in Europe. The central part of the Avenida, a favourite open-air resort of Lisbon society, is used for riding and driving; on each side of it are paved double avenues of trees, with flower-beds, statues, ponds, fountains, &c., and between these and the broad pavements are two roadways for trams and heavy traffic. Thus the Avenida has the appearance of three parallel streets, separated by avenues of trees instead of houses. Its width exceeds 300 ft. It owes its name to an obelisk 98 ft. high, erected in 1882 at its southern end, to commemorate the liberation of Portugal from Spanish rule (December, 1640). North and north-east of the Avenida are the Avenida Park, the Edward VII. Park (so named in memory of a visit paid to Lisbon by the king of England in 1903), Campo Grande, with its finely wooded walks, and Campo Pequeno, with the bull-ring. Other noteworthy public gardens are the Passeio da Estrella, commanding magnificent views of the city and river, the Largo do Principe Real, planted with bananas and other tropical trees, the Tapada das Necessidades, originally the park of one of the royal residences, and the Botanical Gardens of the polytechnic school, with a fine avenue of palms and collections of tropical and subtropical flora hardly surpassed in Europe. There are large Portuguese cemeteries east and west of Lisbon, a German cemetery, and an English cemetery, known also as Os Cyprestes from the number of its cypresses. This was laid out in 1717 at the cost of the British and Dutch residents and contains the graves of Henry Fielding (1707–1754), the novelist, and Dr Philip Doddridge (1702–1751), the Nonconformist divine.
Lisbon is the seat of an archbishop who since 1716 has borne ex officio the honorary title of patriarch; he presides over the House of Peers and is usually appointed a cardinal. The churches of modern Lisbon are generally built in the Italian style of the 18th century; the interiors are overlaid with heavy ornament. Perhaps the finest is the Estrella church, with its white marble dome and twin towers visible for many miles above the city. The late Renaissance church of São Roque contains two beautiful chapels dating from the 18th century, one of which is inlaid with painted tiles, while the other was constructed in Rome of coloured marbles, and consecrated by the pope before being shipped to Lisbon. Its mosaics and lapis lazuli pillars are exceptionally fine. The 14th-century Gothic Igreja do Carmo was shattered by the great earthquake. Only the apse, pillared aisles and outer walls remain standing, and the interior has been converted into an archaeological museum. The church of Nossa Senhora da Conceição has a magnificent Manoeline façade.
The Palacio das Cortes, in which both Houses of Parliament sit, is a 16th-century Benedictine convent, used for its present purpose since 1834. It contains the national archives, better known as the Torre do Tombo collection, because in 1375 the archives were first stored in a tower of that name. The royal palace, or Paço das Necessidades, west of Buenos Ayres, is a vast 18th-century mansion occupying the site of a chapel dedicated to Nossa Senhora das Necessidades (i.e. “Our Lady who helps at need”).
The Suburbs of Ajuda and Belem.—In the extreme west of Lisbon, beyond the Alcantara valley, are Belem (i.e. “Bethlehem”), beside the Tagus, and Ajuda, on the heights above. The Paço de Belem, built in 1700 for the counts of Aveiro, became the chief royal palace under John V. (1706–1750). The Torre de Belem, on the foreshore, is a small tower of beautiful design, built in 1520 for the protection of shipping. The finest ecclesiastical building in Portugal except the monasteries of Alcobaça and Batalha also fronts the river. It is the Convento dos Jeronymos, a Hieronymite convent and church, founded in 1499 to commemorate the discovery of the sea-route to India by Vasco da Gama. It was built of white limestone by João de Castilho (d. 1581), perhaps the greatest of Manoeline architects. Its cloisters form a square with blunted corners, surrounded by a two-storeyed arcade, every available portion of which is covered with exquisite sculptures. Parts of the building have been restored, but the cloisters and the beautiful central gateway remain unspoiled. The interior contains many royal tombs, including that of Catherine of Braganza (d. 1705), the wife of Charles II. of England. The supposed remains of Camoens and Vasco da Gama were interred here in 1880. In 1834, when the convent was secularized, its buildings were assigned to the Casa Pia, an orphanage founded by Maria I. Since 1903 they have contained the archaeological collections of the Portuguese Ethnological Museum. The royal Ajuda palace, begun (1816–1826) by John VI. but left unfinished, derives its name from the chapel of N. S. de Ajuda (“Our Lady of Aid”). It contains some fine pictures and historical trophies. In the coach-house there is an unsurpassed collection of state coaches, the cars upon which figures of saints are borne in procession, sedan chairs, old cabriolets and other curious vehicles.
The Environs of Lisbon.—The administrative district of Lisbon has an area of 3065 sq. m., with a population of 709,509 in 1900. It comprises the lower parts of the Tagus and Sado; the sea-coast from 5 m. S. of Cape Carvoeiro to within 3 m. of the bluff called the Escarpa do Rojo; and a strip of territory extending inland for a mean distance of 30 m. This region corresponds with the southern part of Estremadura (q.v.). Its more important towns, Setubal, Cintra, Torres Vedras and Mafra, are described in separate articles. Sines, a small seaport on Cape Sines, was the birthplace of Vasco da Gama. On the left bank of the Tagus, opposite Lisbon, are the small towns of Almada, Barreiro, Aldeia Gallega and Seixal, and the hamlet of Trafaria, inhabited by fishermen. The beautiful strip of coast west of Oeiras and south of Cape Roca is often called the “Portuguese Riviera.” Its fine climate, mineral springs and sea-bathing attract visitors at all seasons to the picturesque fortified bay of Cascaes, or to Estoril, Mont’ Estoril and São João do Estoril, modern towns consisting chiefly of villas, hotels and gardens. The Boca do Inferno (“Mouth of Hell”) is a cavity in the rocks at Cascaes resembling the Bufador at Peñiscola (q.v.). The villages of Carcavellos, Bucellas, Lumiar and Collares produce excellent wines; at Carcavellos is the receiving station for cables, with a large British staff, and a club and grounds where social and athletic meetings are held by the British colony. Alhandra, on the right bank of the Tagus, above Lisbon, was the birthplace of Albuquerque; fighting bulls for the Lisbon arena are bred in the adjacent pastures.
Railways, Shipping and Commerce.—Lisbon has five railway stations—the central (Lisboa-Rocío), for the lines to Cintra, northern and central Portugal, and Madrid via Valencia de Alcántara; the Santa Apolonia or Caes dos Soldados, at the eastern extremity of the quays, for the same lines (excluding Cintra) and for southern Portugal and Andalusia; the Caes do Sodré and Santos, farther west along the quays, for Cascaes; and the Barreiro, on the left bank of the Tagus, for southern Portugal. In 1902 the railways north and south of the Tagus were connected near Lisbon by a bridge. In the previous year an extensive system of electric tramways replaced the old-fashioned cable cars and mule trams. Electric and hydraulic lifts are used where the streets are too steep for trams. Lisbon is lighted by both electricity and gas; it has an admirable telephone service, and is connected by the Carcavellos cable-station with Cornwall (England), Vigo in Galicia, Gibraltar, the Azores and Madeira.
Ships of the largest size can enter the Tagus, and the Barreiro inlet is navigable at low water by vessels drawing 16 ft. There are extensive quays along the right bank, with hydraulic cranes, two graving docks, a slipway, warehouses and lines of railway. The government and private docks are on the left bank. Loading and discharging are principally effected by means of lighters. The exports are wines, oil, fruit, tinned fish, salt, colonial produce, cork, pitwood, leather and wool. The imports include cotton and woollen goods, linen, ale and porter, butter, tea, hardware, tin plates, coal, iron, machinery, chemical manure, &c., from Great Britain; grain and petroleum from the United States; dried codfish from Norway and Newfoundland; silks, perfumery and fancy goods from France; hemp, flax, grain, petroleum and cloth from Russia; linen, machinery, hardware, sugar, &c., from Germany and Holland; iron, steel, timber, pitch and salt fish from the Baltic; cocoa, coffee, wax and rubber from the Portuguese colonies. Towards the close of the 19th century the tourist traffic from Great Britain and Germany attained considerable importance, and Lisbon has long been one of the principal ports of debarcation for passengers from Brazil and of embarcation for emigrants to South America. Shipbuilding, including the construction of vessels for the national navy, is a growing industry. The fisheries have always been important, and in no European fishmarket is the produce more varied. Sardines and tunny are cured and tinned for export. In addition to a fleet of about 600 sailing boats, the Tagus is the headquarters of a small fleet of steam trawlers. The industries of Lisbon include dyeing, distillation of spirits and manufactures of woollen, cotton, silk and linen fabrics, of pottery, soap, paper, chemicals, cement, corks, tobacco, preserved foods and biscuits.
Education and Charity.—Although the seat of the only university in Portugal was fixed at Coimbra in 1527, Lisbon is the educational centre of the Portuguese world, including Brazil. Its chief learned societies are the Society of Medical Sciences, the Geographical Society, the Royal Academy of Sciences, the Academy of Fine Arts, the Royal Conservatory of Music and the Propaganda de Portugal. The museum of the Academy of Fine Arts contains the largest collection of pictures and statues by native and foreign artists in Portugal. The Geographical Society has gained an international reputation; it possesses a valuable library and museum. The National Library, founded in 1796, contains over 400,000 printed books, and upwards of 9000 MSS. There are also colonial, naval, artillery, natural history and commercial museums, meteorological and astronomical observatories, zoological gardens and an aquarium. Purely educational institutions include the medical, polytechnic, military and naval schools, commercial, agricultural and industrial institutes, a school of art, a central lyceum, a school for teachers, &c. The English college for British Roman Catholics dates from 1628. The Irish Dominicans have a seminary, and Portuguese ecclesiastical schools are numerous. There are hospitals for women, and for contagious diseases, almshouses, orphanages, a foundling hospital and a very large quarantine station on the south bank of the Tagus, founded in 1857 after an outbreak of yellow fever had devastated the city. Foremost among the theatres, circuses and other places of amusement is the royal opera-house of São Carlos, built in 1792–1793 on the model of the Scala at Milan.
Population.—The population of Lisbon, 187,404 in 1878, rose to 301,206 in 1890 and 356,009 in 1900. It includes a large foreign colony, composed chiefly of Spaniards, British, Germans, French, Brazilians and immigrants from the Portuguese colonies, among whom are many half-castes. The majority of the Spaniards are domestic servants and labourers from Galicia, whose industry and easily gained knowledge of the kindred Portuguese language enables them to earn a better livelihood here than in their own homes. The British, German and French communities control a large share of the foreign trade. The Brazilians and colonial immigrants are often merchants and landowners who come to the mother-country to spend their fortunes in a congenial social environment.
The street life of the city is full of interest. The bare-footed, ungainly fishwives, dressed in black and bearing flat trays of fish on their heads; the Galician water-carriers, with their casks; the bakers, bending beneath a hundredweight of bread slung in a huge basket from their shoulders; the countrymen, with their sombreros, sashes and hardwood quarter-staves, give colour and animation to their surroundings; while the bag-pipes played by peasants from the north, the whistles of the knife-grinders, and the distinctive calls of the vendors of fruit, lottery tickets, or oil and vinegar, contribute a babel of sound. For church festivals and holidays the country-folk come to town, the women riding on pillions behind the men, adorned in shawls, aprons and handkerchiefs of scarlet or other vivid hues, and wearing the strings of coins and ornaments of exquisite gold and silver filigree which represent their savings or dowries. The costumes and manners of all classes may be seen at their best in the great bull-ring of Campo Pequeno, a Mauresque building which holds many thousands of spectators. A Lisbon bullfight is a really brilliant exhibition of athletic skill and horsemanship, in which amateurs often take part, and neither horses nor bulls are killed. There is a Tauromachic Club solely for amateurs.
History.—The name Lisbon is a modification of the ancient name Olisipo, also written Ulyssippo under the influence of a mythical story of a city founded by Odysseus (Ulysses) in Iberia, which, however, according to Strabo, was placed by ancient tradition rather in the mountains of Turdetania (the extreme south of Spain). Under the Romans Olisipo became a municipium with the epithet of Felicitas Julia, but was inferior in importance to the less ancient Emerita Augusta (Mérida). From 407 to 585 it was occupied by Alaric, and thenceforward by the Visigoths until 711, when it was taken by the Moors. Under the Moors the town bore in Arabic the name of Al Oshbūna or Lashbūna. It was the first point of Moslem Spain attacked by the Normans in 844. When Alphonso I. of Portugal took advantage of the decline and fall of the Almoravid dynasty to incorporate the provinces of Estremadura and Alemtejo in his new kingdom, Lisbon was the last city of Portugal to fall into his hands, and yielded only after a siege of several months (21st October 1147), in which he was aided by English and Flemish crusaders on their way to Syria. In 1184 the city was again attacked by the Moslems under the powerful caliph Abu Yakub, but the enterprise failed. In the reign of Ferdinand I., the greater part of the town was burned by the Castilian army under Henry II. (1373), and in 1384 the Castilians again besieged Lisbon, but without success. Lisbon became the seat of an archbishop in 1390, the seat of government in 1422. During the 16th century it gained much in wealth and splendour from the establishment of a Portuguese empire in India and Africa. From 1580 to 1640 Lisbon was a provincial town under Spanish rule, and it was from this port that the Spanish Armada sailed in 1588. In 1640 the town was captured by the duke of Braganza, and the independence of the kingdom restored.
For many centuries the city had suffered from earthquakes, and on the 1st of November 1755 the greater part of it was reduced almost in an instant to a heap of ruins. A tidal wave at the same time broke over the quays and wrecked the shipping in the Tagus; fire broke out to complete the work of destruction; between 30,000 and 40,000 persons lost their lives; and the value of the property destroyed was about £20,000,000. The shock was felt from Scotland to Asia Minor. Careful investigation by Daniel Sharpe, an English geologist, has delimited the area in and near Lisbon to which its full force was confined. Lisbon is built in a geological basin of Tertiary formation, the upper portion of which is loose sand and gravel destitute of organic remains, while below these are the so-called Almada beds of yellow sand, calcareous sandstone and blue clay rich in organic remains. The Tertiary deposits, which altogether cover an area of more than 2000 sq. m., are separated near Lisbon from rocks of the Secondary epoch by a great sheet of basalt. The uppermost of these Secondary rocks is the hippurite limestone. It was found that no building on the blue clay escaped destruction, none on any of the Tertiary deposits escaped serious injury, and all on the hippurite limestone and basalt were undamaged. The line at which the earthquake ceased to be destructive thus corresponded exactly with the boundary of the Tertiary deposits.
At the beginning of the 19th century the French invasion, followed by the removal of the court to Rio de Janeiro, the Peninsular War, the loss of Brazil and a period of revolution and dynastic trouble, resulted in the utter decadence of Lisbon, from which the city only recovered after 1850 (see Portugal: History).
Bibliography.—Every book which deals with the topography, trade or history of Portugal as a whole necessarily devotes a portion of its space to the capital; see Portugal: Bibliography. The following treat more exclusively of Lisbon: A. Dayot, Lisbonne (No. ix. of the “Capitales du monde” series) (Paris, 1892); Freire de Oliveira, Elementos para a historia do municipio de Lisboa (9 vols., Lisbon, 1885–1898); J. de Castilho, Lisboa antiga (7 vols., Lisbon, 1890), and (by the same author) A Ribeira de Lisboa (Lisbon, 1893).
- This figure represents the population of a smaller area than that of modern Lisbon, for the civic boundaries were extended by a decree dated the 23rd of December 1886.