Visually, Lisbon is exceptionally striking. However, its homogeneity is chiefly a result of the catastrophic earthquake that virtually destroyed the city in 1755. Today’s Lisbon would be unrecognizable to the navigators such as Vasco da Gama, who set sail from the Tagus estuary during Portugal’s Golden Age in the late 15th century. Only Alfama, the oldest surviving district, is still laced with medieval alleys and colored by Moorish influence. The Belém neighborhood is home to a wealth of monuments, including the iconic Belém Tower, the opulent National Coach Museum and the Jerónimos Monastery, where da Gama is buried. Bairro Alto is the home of fado music, whose melancholy strains are said to embody the Portuguese national temperament.

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