Top historic sites in Lisbon

Baixa District

The Pombaline Lower Town (called usually as Baixa) area covers about 235,620 square metres of central Lisbon. It is an elegant district, primarily constructed after the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. It takes its name from Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, the Prime Minister to Joseph I of Portugal from 1750 to 1777 and key figure of the Enlightenment in Portugal, who took the lead in ordering the rebuilding of Lisbon after t ...
Founded: 1755 | Location: Lisbon, Portugal

Sé Catedral (Cathedral of Lisbon)

Lisbon's cathedral has a stark interior and differs from other European cathedrals in looking more like a castle.It was built over an old mosque and mixes the Romanesque and Gothic styles. While in other cities the cathedral is the grandest religious monument, in Lisbon that honor actually goes to the Hieronymus Monastery or even Basilica da Estrela. The site where it stands was the principal mosque of Lisbon when it was ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Lisbon, Portugal

Jerónimos Monastery

The Jerónimos Monastery or Hieronymites Monastery is one of the most prominent examples of the Portuguese Late Gothic Manueline style of architecture in Lisbon. It was classified a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the nearby Tower of Belém, in 1983. The Jeronimos Monastery is the most impressive symbol of Portugal's power and wealth during the Age of Discovery. King Manuel I built it in 1502 on the site of a herm ...
Founded: 1502 | Location: Lisbon, Portugal

Calouste Gulbenkian Museum

Calouste Gulbenkian Museum was founded in conformity with Calouste Gulbenkian"s (1869-1955) last will and testament. He was a British businessman and philanthropist of Armenian origin. He played a major role in making the petroleum reserves of the Middle East available to Western development and is credited with being the first person to exploit Iraqi oil. The permanent exhibition and galleries are distributed chron ...
Founded: 1957 | Location: Lisbon, Portugal

Belém Tower

Belém Tower is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (along with the nearby Jerónimos Monastery) because of the significant role it played in the Portuguese maritime discoveries of the era of the Age of Discoveries. The tower was commissioned by King John II to be part of a defence system at the mouth of the Tagus river and a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon. The tower was built around 1514 by Francisco de Arruda and is ...
Founded: 1514 | Location: Lisbon, Portugal

Quinta da Regaleira

Quinta da Regaleira is an estate located near the historic center of Sintra. It is classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO within the 'Cultural Landscape of Sintra'. Along with the other palaces in the area such as the Quinta do Relógio, Pena, Monserrate and Seteais palaces, it is considered one of the principal tourist attractions of Sintra. The property consists of a romantic palace and chapel, an ...
Founded: 1904 | Location: Sintra, Portugal

Monastery of São Vicente de Fora

Monastery of São Vicente de Fora (Monastery of St. Vincent Outside the Walls) is a 17th-century church and monastery in the city of Lisbon. It is one of the most important monasteries and mannerist buildings in the country. The monastery also contains the royal pantheon of the Braganza monarchs of Portugal. The original Monastery of São Vicente de Fora was founded around 1147 by the first Portuguese King, Afonso Henriq ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Lisbon, Portugal

Pena Palace

The Pena Palace stands on the top of a hill in the Sintra Mountains above the town of Sintra, and on a clear day it can be easily seen from Lisbon and much of its metropolitan area. It is a national monument and constitutes one of the major expressions of 19th-century Romanticism in the world. The palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal. It is also used for state occasions by the Pr ...
Founded: 1842-1854 | Location: Sintra, Portugal

Igreja de São Roque

The Igreja de São Roque (Church of Saint Roch) in Lisbon was the earliest Jesuit church in the Portuguese world, and one of the first Jesuit churches anywhere. It served as the Society’s home church in Portugal for over 200 years, before the Jesuits were expelled from that country. After the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, the church and its ancillary residence were given to the Santa Casa da Misericórdia de L ...
Founded: 1506 | Location: Lisbon, Portugal

São Jorge Castle

São Jorge Castle is a Moorish castle occupying a commanding hilltop overlooking the historic centre of the Portuguese city of Lisbon and Tagus River. The strongly fortified citadel dates from medieval period of Portuguese history, and is one of the main tourist sites of Lisbon. Although the first fortifications on this hilltop date from the 2nd century BC, archaeological excavations have identified a human presence in t ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Lisbon, Portugal

Belém Palace

Situated high up in gardens on a gently sloped hill, the Belem Palace is the official residence of Portugal"s president since 1910. It was built in 1559 and altered in the 18th century by King João V. In 1755 King Jose I was inside the palace where the Great Earthquake was felt only to a slight extent, and just like most buildings in this area, it wasn"t severely damaged. It still retains its richly furn ...
Founded: 1726 | Location: Lisbon, Portugal

Castle of the Moors

The Castle of the Moors is a hilltop medieval castle built by the Moors in the 8th and 9th centuries. It was an important strategic point during the Reconquista, and was taken by Christian forces after the fall of Lisbon in 1147. It is classified as a National Monument, part of the Sintra Cultural Landscape, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. During the second half of the 12th century, the chapel constructed within the walls ...
Founded: 8th century | Location: Sintra, Portugal

Navy Museum

The Navy Museum is a maritime museum in Lisbon, dedicated to all aspects of the history of navigation in Portugal. It occupies a part of the neo-Manueline Western wing of the Jerónimos Monastery with the National Museum of Archaeology, as well as a modern annex built to the North of the monastery. The history of the museum is connected to King Luís I (1838-1889), who had a strong interest in oceanographic s ...
Founded: | Location: Lisbon, Portugal

Mafra Palace

The Palace of Mafra is a monumental Baroque and Neoclassical palace-monastery located 28 kilometres from Lisbon. The palace, which also served as a Franciscan monastery, was built during the reign of King John V (1707–1750), as consequence of a vow the king made in 1711, to build a convent if his wife, Queen Mary Anne of Austria, gave him offspring. The birth of his first daughter, princess Barbara of Braganza, prompted ...
Founded: 1717-1730 | Location: Mafra, Portugal

Santa Justa Lift

The Santa Justa Lift is an elevator, or lift, in the civil parish of Santa Justa, in the historical city of Lisbon. Situated at the end of Rua de Santa Justa, it connects the lower streets of the Baixa with the higher Largo do Carmo (Carmo Square). Since its construction, the Lift has become a tourist attraction for Lisbon as, among the urban lifts in the city, Santa Justa is the only remaining vertical (conventional) on ...
Founded: 1902 | Location: Lisbon, Portugal

Rossio Square

Rossio Square is the popular name of the Pedro IV Square. It is located in the Pombaline Downtown of Lisbon and has been one of its main squares since the Middle Ages. It has been the setting of popular revolts and celebrations, bullfights and executions, and is now a preferred meeting place of Lisbon natives and tourists alike. The Rossio became an important place in the city during the 13th and 14th centuries, when the ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Lisbon, Portugal

Padrão dos Descobrimentos

Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Monument to the Discoveries) is located along the river where ships departed to explore and trade with India and Orient. The monument celebrates the Portuguese Age of Discovery during the 15th and 16th centuries. In 1958 the Ministry of Public Works, the Overseas Provinces and the Câmara Municipal of Lisbon, promoted the intent to construct a permanent Monument to the Discoveries. ...
Founded: 1958-1960 | Location: Lisbon, Portugal

São Bento Palace

The Palácio de São Bento is the home of the Assembly of the Republic, the Portuguese parliament. The Palace has its origin in the first Benedictine monastery of Lisbon, established in 1598. In 1615, the monks settled in the area of the Casa da Saúde (Health House), that housed people sick with the plague. The new monastery was built during the 17th century following a Mannerist project by Jesuit archi ...
Founded: 1598 | Location: Lisbon, Portugal

Queluz Palace

The Palace of Queluz is a Portuguese 18th-century palace located at Queluz in the Lisbon District. One of the last great Rococo buildings to be designed in Europe, the palace was conceived as a summer retreat for Dom Pedro of Braganza, later to become husband and then king consort to his own niece, Queen Maria I. It served as a discreet place of incarceration for Queen Maria as her descent into madness continued in the ye ...
Founded: 1747 | Location: Lisbon, Portugal

Rua Augusta Arch

The Rua Augusta Arch was built to commemorate the city"s reconstruction after the 1755 earthquake. It has six columns (some 11 m high) and is adorned with statues of various historical figures. Significant height from the arch crown to the cornice imparts an appearance of heaviness to the structure. The associated space is filled with the coat of arms of Portugal. The allegorical group at the top, made by French scul ...
Founded: 1755 | Location: Lisbon, Portugal

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Königstein Fortress

Königstein Fortress is located on the left bank of the River Elbe. It is one of the largest hilltop fortifications in Europe. The 9.5 hectare rock plateau rises 240 metres above the Elbe and has over 50 buildings, some over 400 years old, that bear witness to the military and civilian life in the fortress. The rampart run of the fortress is 1,800 metres long with walls up to 42 metres high and steep sandstone faces. In the centre of the site is a 152.5 metre deep well, which is the deepest in Saxony and second deepest well in Europe.

The fortress, which for centuries was used as a state prison, is still intact and is now one of Saxony's foremost tourist attractions, with 700,000 visitors per year.

By far the oldest written record of a castle on the Königstein is found in a deed by King Wenceslas I of Bohemia dating to the year 1233. It is probable that there had been a stone castle on the Königstein as early as the 12th century. The oldest surviving structure today is the castle chapel built at the turn of the 13th century. In the years 1563 to 1569 the 152.5 metre deep well was bored into the rock within the castle - until that point the garrison of the Königstein had to obtain water from cisterns and by collecting rainwater.

Between 1589 and 1591/97 Prince-Elector Christian I of Saxony and his successor had the castle developed into the strongest fortification in Saxony. The hill was now surrounded with high walls. Buildings were erected, including the Gatehouse (Torhaus), the Streichwehr, the Old Barracks (Alte Kaserne), the Christiansburg (Friedrichsburg) and the Old Armoury (Altes Zeughaus). The second construction period followed from 1619 to 1681, during which the John George Bastion was built. The third construction period is seen as the time from 1694 to 1756, which included the expansion of the Old Barracks. From 1722 to 1725, at the behest of August the Strong, coopers under Böttger built the enormous Königstein Wine Barrel, the greatest wine barrel in the world, in the cellar of the Magdalenenburg which had a capacity of 249,838 litres. It cost 8,230 thalers, 18 groschen and 9 pfennigs. The butt, which was once completely filled with country wine from the Meißen vineyards, had to be removed again in 1818 due to its poor condition. Because of Böttger, Königstein Fortress is also the site where European porcelain started.

Even after the expansion during those periods of time there continued to be modifications and additions on the extensive plateau. The Treasury (Schatzhaus) was built from 1854 to 1855. After the fortress had been incorporated in 1871 into the fortification system of the new German Empire, battery ramparts were constructed from 1870 to 1895 with eight firing points, that were to have provided all-round defence for the fortress in case of an attack that, in the event, never came. This was at this time that the last major building work was done on the fortress.

Because Königstein Fortress was regarded as unconquerable, the Saxon monarchs retreated to it from Wittenberg and later Dresden during times of crisis and also deposited the state treasure and many works of art from the famous Zwinger here; it was also used as a country retreat due to its lovely surroundings.

The fortress played an important role in the History of Saxony, albeit less as a result of military action. The Saxon Dukes and Prince-Electors used the fortress primarily as a secure refuge during times of war, as a hunting lodge and maison de plaisance, but also as a dreaded state prison. Its actual military significance was rather marginal.

Since 1955 the fortress has been an open-air, military history museum of high touristic value.