Situated at the mouth of the Tagus, with its feet in the Atlantic, Lisbon seems to have emerged from a dream. Europe's only oceanic capital, everything about it evokes a taste for the open sea and travel: its fishermen, the sea air permeating its winding streets, its bridges and footbridges... The white city is characterised above all by its seven hills on which the city centre is spread out on slopes. City of Ulysses, city of a thousand colours, beautiful Lisbon shines with its rich architecture and fascinates with its history.
"Lisbon. I will sink into it, I will return to it. These comings and goings will be caresses, oscillations: the Portuguese mornings, the blue sky above the houses, the air of the Tagus and the heart-rending uncertainty that governs all port life. For a long time, we had kept this password on us and between us: Lisbon."
With these few words, the writer Olivier Frébourg plunges us into the nostalgia of love, this feeling of emptiness called saudade by the Portuguese and which echoes here his attachment to Lisbon, crystallising his melancholy and his desire for elsewhere.
Many people, like Frébourg, fell under the spell of the capital and the undeniable mystery of its scenery. Starting with the immense 25 April suspension bridge, guarded by the statue of Christ the King, which allows you to cross the Tagus and enter the heart of the capital. But its unique character is also due to its rugged neighbourhoods. As you walk through Lisbon, you will see the famous yellow trams and the Santa-Justa lift, other symbols of the capital, designed to make it easier for Lisboners to get around.
The Portuguese Empire and the Great Discoveries
To walk through the streets of Lisbon is to step back in time, when Portugal was one of the most powerful empires in Europe. Founded by the Phoenicians as Olissipo, Lisbon was first conquered by the Greeks, Carthaginians and Romans before falling into the hands of the Arabs. Renamed al-Usbuma for the occasion, it was taken over by the Christians in the 12th century.
Although the foundations for maritime expansion were laid in the following century during the reign of Alfonso III, it was during the 16th century that the country experienced its golden age, marked by the maritime expeditions of the Great Discoveries. Starting with Vasco de Gamma, who set out to discover the route to India on 8 July 1447, and Magellan, who set out on the very first circumnavigation of the world under sail. Lisbon became a master in the art of navigation and cartography, a world trade centre using the mineral wealth of Brazil discovered by Cabral in 1500, and prospered.
The Belem Tower is, along with the Hieronymite Monastery, a symbol of this period. Both built under Manuel I at the dawn of the 16th century, the former was built as a defence point while the latter housed monks charged with assisting sailors setting out to conquer the world.
In 1755, an earthquake followed by a tidal wave reduced the city to ruins. The Marquis of Pombal took advantage of this to rebuild the Lusitanian city according to regular plans, characteristic of the urban planning principles of the time. Of the medieval quarters, only one survived the destruction...
Alfama, the historic district
Overlooking the Alfama district, St George's Castle was built by the Wizigoths on the highest of Lisbon's seven hills, before serving for several centuries as a royal residence.
At its feet lies a maze of narrow streets with colourful facades, a legacy of the Muslim conquest, in which the melancholy songs of Fado resound.
Famous for its festivities, the festas de Lisboa and its intimate atmosphere, Alfama is also appreciated for its thermal waters as well as its architectural treasures such as the National Pantheon of Portugal, a former 16th century church converted at the beginning of the 20th century, and which during your run will constitute a reliable landmark. Several belvederes offer the visitor views of the city. This is the case of the Miradoura das Portas do Sol belvedere, which overlooks the typical roofs of Alfama, as well as the huge dome of the Saint Vincent de Fora monastery, renowned for its Mannerist architecture. Not to be outdone, the Cathedral of Santa Maria Maior, the oldest church in the capital, stands majestically in a mixture of Romanesque and Gothic art.
An exceptional natural heritage
To the west of the city centre lies one of the largest public parks in the world, the Monsanto Forest Park. With a surface area of 10 square kilometres, it is ideal for rejuvenation but also for running, in the shade of pines, oaks and eucalyptus trees.
Serra da Arrábida, located 40 kilometres south of Lisbon, is considered the Portuguese paradise and one of the most beautiful places in the country. With its paradisiacal beaches, breathtaking cliffs, centuries-old castles and breathtaking views, the natural park and its mountains offer exceptional landscapes, to be discovered by walking or running!
Run with Runnin'City from the historic district of Alfama to the beaches of Belém and the chic district of Chiado!