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Running in Lisbon: the white city in the blue country

Situated at the mouth of the Tagus, with its feet in the Atlantic, Lisbon seems to have emerged from a dream. Europe's only ocean-going 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 characterized above all by its seven hills, on which the city center is spread out on slopes. City of Ulysses, city of a thousand colors, beautiful Lisbon shines with the richness of its architecture and fascinates with its history.

Admirez les toitures typiques des maisons de Lisbonne.
Lisbon, Portugal

"Lisbon. I'll sink into it, come back to it. These comings and goings will be caresses, oscillations: Portuguese mornings, the blue sky above the houses, the air of the Tagus and the heartbreaking uncertainty that governs all port life. For a long time, we had kept this password with us and between us: Lisbon."

With these few words, writer Olivier Frébourg plunges us into the nostalgia of love, that feeling of emptiness called saudade by the Portuguese, which echoes here his attachment to Lisbon, crystallizing his melancholy and desire for elsewhere.

Many, like Frébourg, fell under the spell of the capital and its undeniable mystery. Starting with the immense 25-April suspension bridge, guarded by the statue of Christ the King, which provides access across the Tagus to the heart of the capital. But Lisbon's uniqueness also lies in its rugged districts. As you walk through Lisbon, you'll come across the famous yellow streetcars and the Santa-Justa elevator, other symbols of the capital, designed to make it easier for lisboetes, the inhabitants of Lisbon, 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 Europe's most powerful empires. 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 retaken 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 off to discover the route to India on July 8, 1447, and Magellan, who set sail on the very first circumnavigation of the globe. Lisbon became a master in the art of navigation and cartography, and a world trading center using the mineral wealth of Brazil, discovered by Cabral in 1500.

Along with the Hieronymite Monastery, the Belem Tower is a symbol of this period. Both built under Manuel I at the dawn of the 16th century, the former was erected as a defensive point, while the latter housed monks charged with assisting sailors setting out to conquer the world.

Une visite incontournable à Lisbonne : marchez jusqu'à la tour de Belém, sur les rives du Tage.
View of the Belém Tower on the banks of the Tagus River

In 1755, an earthquake followed by a tidal wave reduced the city to rubble. The Marquis of Pombal took advantage of the situation to rebuild the Lusitanian city according to regular plans, typical 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 Visigoths on the highest of Lisbon's 7 hills, before serving for several centuries as a royal residence.

Courir dans les rues animées d'Akihabara peut être un défi de taille le week-end, quand les otakus s'y amassent.
Alfama's characteristic cobblestone streets

At its foot lies a maze of narrow streets with colorful 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 and architectural treasures such as Portugal's National Pantheon, a former 16th-century church converted in the early 20th century, and a reliable landmark on your run. Several belvederes offer visitors views of the city. These include the Miradoura das Portas do Sol viewpoint, which overlooks the typical Alfama rooftops, and the huge dome of the Saint-Vincent de Fora monastery, renowned for its Mannerist architecture. Not to be outdone, Santa Maria Maior Cathedral, the capital's oldest church, stands majestically in a blend of Romanesque and Gothic.

An exceptional natural heritage

To the west of the city center lies one of the world's largest public parks, Monsanto Forest Park. Covering an area of 10 square kilometers, it's ideal for both rejuvenation and running, in the shade of pine, oak and eucalyptus trees.

Serra da Arrábida, located 40 kilometers south of Lisbon, is considered the Portuguese paradise and one of the most beautiful places in the country. With its heavenly beaches, breathtaking cliffs, centuries-old castles and breathtaking vistas, the natural park and its mountains offer exceptional landscapes to discover on foot or on a run!

Lors de votre balade, promenez-vous sur les plages du parc naturel.
Serra da Arrábida Nature Reserve

Run, walk or ride with JOOKS, from the historic Alfama district to the beaches of Belém and the chic Chiado district!

Find all of Lisbon's routes and over 1,300 others on the JOOKS app.

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