Lisbon On the RoadLisbon, Portugal
Once upon a time, Lisbon was considered the very center of the world. The "Great Age of the Discoveries" in the 15th and 16th centuries was Lisbon's heyday, a time when the Portuguese empire ruled over a large part of the world. In the suburb of Belém, visitors can find a world still very traditional in character, reminiscent of Portugal’s grand past.
But aside from the history, Lisbon is inventing a modern face for itself as well. This is best exemplified by the Parque das Nações, the futuristic playground built for the wildly successful Expo 98. The Parque has now become a symbol of urban regeneration, having transformed one of the city’s most underprivilleged areas into of its most exciting.
Lisbon’s renaissance will be complete in 2004, when the city will boast the two biggest stadiums as it hosts the final of the European Football Championships. Like Expo 98, this is an important event for the city's identity and confidence. Many think that it will reinforce the local belief that Lisbon is now one of the great European capitals.
If Lisbon constantly shifts between old and new it also fluctuates between work and play, formal and informal, trendy and tacky. It is very much an living city. If Lisbon impresses families as a playground for children, it is also something of a playground for adults, a giant theme park where even getting around by chaotic trams, gravity defying funiculars or bobbing boats can be great fun.
This sense of carnival fun extends into the nightime as the clubs and bars set the people into another kind of frenzy. It's a fun city, a passionate city: you're sure to have a good time.