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ROMAN, BARBARIAN AND MOSLEM PERIOD

Cruzados
Cerco de Lisboa

Lisboa was born out of a "citânia" located north of the site of S. George’s castle. This would be one of the many human nuclei developed during the pre-historic period. Through the Romans’ settling action (195 a.C.) and consequent social-economic development, it came to be classified as "municipality" benefiting from its urban equipment: monuments, theatres, thermae. There was a crossroads of the Roman road network: three going to Mérida and one to Bracara (Braga). Its "opidum" feature, where the Romans concentrated their strategic defense, results from the reflection of the ground on the one hand, and the natural protection of the Tagus estuary and its branch on the other, which then extended westward and deeply penetrated the territory.

Olisipo (this was the city’s first name) had a fixed population nucleus which was defended by the soldiers. In its outskirts quite a number of families who settled, cultivated the land and in exchange for bread, fruit, wine, vegetables and cattle received protection and defense.

The 3rd century’s crisis, which undermined and weakened the Roman society, was felt in the whole of Iberian Peninsula. The successive invasions of new peoples, the Teutons in 500 d.C. (Visigoths, Suevians), then the Arabs in 700 d.C., transform the population’s physiognomy. Due to the climate of insecurity and war, the city gains quite a peculiar feature: a fortress, where the inhabitants running away from the advance of the Christian armies, take refuge. It is a population composed of rich land owners and merchants, who move into the interior of the battlements and build an immensely rich city through the trading in the ports of Africa and Asia.

During the period of the Christian Reconquest, the Moslem Lisboa is a city covetted and often attacked and occupied by the Christian armies (occupied by Castile in 1000 d.C.).

Lisboa was at that time the richest commercial centre in the whole of Africa and a great part of Europe. It was rich in all sorts of merchandise: it had gold and silver. There was no shortage of blacksmiths. Nothing was uncultivated or sterile; on the contrary, their fields were good for all culture … its air was healthy, and there were hot baths in the city. … the top of the hill is encompassed by a circular wall, and the city walls go down the hillside, on the right and on the left, to the Tagus bank.

FIRST DYNASTY

Muralha Fernandina

In 1147, D. Afonso Henriques, the first King of Portugal, conquered the city. With the Christians’ help Lisbon expanded to beyond its walls. Inherited from the past there were two outskirts - the Baixa (downtown) and Alfama. The branch of the river disappears definitely in the 13th century.

D.Fernando, the King of Portugal at the time, faced with Castile’s (Spain) threats, builds a new defense wall called "Cerca Nova" (new fence) (1373-75).

Out of the 16 ha of the Moorish period the new city extends to 101.65 ha, i.e., 6.5 times bigger. The capital of the kingdom, and thus of the court, is definitely established during the kingdom of Afonso III.

Lisboa is then the nucleus of an important economic trading system. Small predominantly horticultural estates and located in the immediate proximity can be found. This may have influenced the location of the two central vegetable markets: Praça da Figueira and Praça da Ribeira (Figueira and Ribeira markets).

Out of the 16 ha of the Moorish period the new city extends to 101.65 ha, i.e., 6.5 times bigger. The capital of the kingdom, and thus of the court, is definitely established during the kingdom of Afonso III.

Lisboa is then the nucleus of an important economic trading system. Small predominantly horticultural estates and located in the immediate proximity can be found. This may have influenced the location of the two central vegetable markets: Praça da Figueira and Praça da Ribeira (Figueira and Ribeira markets).

SECOND AND THIRD DYNASTIES

Terreiro do Paço

D. João I, King of Portugal, establishes the first urban area on the Carmo hill (1400). He wanted thus to satisfy the needs of an ever increasing population, while expropriating the fields.

D. Manuel I’s court abandons the castle and the Royal Residence is then established in Terreiro do Paço, where the whole of the city’s commercial life is centred (1500).

At this time the first development (Renaissance) appears in Bairro Alto and kitchen gardens and orchards are transformed into streets and houses. This grows suddenly into a popular quarter although later, the aristocracy moved there and built their palaces.

Bairro Alto marks the passage from the 16th to the 17th century in Lisbon’s urban life and the rise of an urbanistic and architectonic conscience.

At this time the first development (Renaissance) appears in Bairro Alto and kitchen gardens and orchards are transformed into streets and houses. This grows suddenly into a popular quarter although later, the aristocracy moved there and built their palaces.

Bairro Alto marks the passage from the 16th to the 17th century in Lisbon’s urban life and the rise of an urbanistic and architectonic conscience.

AFTER THE EARTHQUAKE OF 1755

Linha de incêndio
Planta da zona da Baixa

1755 marks the date of a period of development. The earthquake (1st November, All Saints’ Day, at 10 a.m.) and the fire which followed, devastated two thirds of all streets and destroyed three thousand houses of the existing twenty thousand.

The earthquake affected the whole downtown area (the Baixa), the Castle quarters and the Carmo. These are the most intensely urban areas of the city.

In their place the Lisboa Pombalina was to be born, the urbanism of which is subject to fixed rules of such a pragmatic scientism that causes admiration throughout the whole world. The Marquis of Pombal, King D. José’s Prime Minister, is at the head of the project, assisted by the architects and engineers, Manuel da Maia, Eugénio dos Santos and Carlos Mardel (1755-76).

The plan, doubtless innovative, is based on one of aligned streets and its architectonic guidelines are based on construction rules, concentrating on basic concepts of resistence to seismic activity.

The urbanistic system complied with drawings of composition axes in which symmetry was the dominating theme. At their extremities monuments, or statues, were often raised: Rua Augusta with the triumphal arch, through which, in its axis, D. José’s statue was erected.

Pombal created incentives of interest to the new commercial bourgeoisie class.

To the North of Rossio a "Public Promenade" is opened (1764), a pleasure area of the bourgeoisie. It was a garden enclosed by a railing, with waterfalls, ponds with fountains and a bandstand, which was later opened to the new avenues and the future boroughs built by a rising bourgeoisie.

From 1780 onwards, public illumination is installed in the city and in 1801 the names of the streets are put up.

POST-POMBALINE EVOLUTION

Avenida da Liberdade

After the victory of liberalism and the end of the Pombaline administration, architectural grandeur is the main feature for public buildings: Basílica da Estrela, S. Carlos Opera House, Ajuda Palace. The limits of the city become then successively extended, always in "circles", the centre being the Baixa (downtown area). The drawing of the streets followed criteria resulting from the demand for houses.

The construction of the D. Maria II’s National Theatre (1843-46) by Architect F. Lodi in the heart of the Rossio Pombalino , with neoclassic features, marks the rupture from the previous period. A new renovation spirit and new aesthetic ideals arise. New gardens are built: S. Pedro de Alcântara, Estrela, Príncipe Real, and trees are planted in Rossio. A naturalistic vision is thus born. The "Public Promenade" develops into an avenue and the breaking away from the city’s development perspectives in a radioconcentric nuclear way is absolutely innovative.

A new development axis would follow Avenida da Liberdade. The opening of  Rua Fontes Pereira de Melo which led to the expansion of the city from Parque da Liberdade (the present Parque Eduardo VII) to Campo Grande, passing Rotunda de Picoas (Picoas roundabout), Avenida Ressano Garcia (Av. República) and all the planning of the neighbouring streets, parallel and perpendicular in an orthogonal development. It was Frederico Ressano Garcia, the city council engineer’s plan. The so-called "Avenidas Novas" (New Avenues) are born and define the large urbanistic space of today’s city.

THE CONTEMPORARY ERA

Alameda Dom Afonso Henriques

After the World War I, the empty spaces resulting from the drawing of the axis of the new avenues are filled in. Avenida da Liberdade is inequivocally the main axis of the new city. New buildings appear, such as Palace Hotel and Castelo Melhor Palace (Foz Palace). The New Art style (later) can be seen in works such as Tivoli cinema by Architect Raul Lino, Eden Theatre and Vitória Hotel by Architect Cassiano Branco. New boroughs appear with buildings occupied by a rising middle class. The facilities for leisure are composed of public parks.

From the 30s, the architects’ role in the construction of new buildings becomes more important.  Alameda
Dom Afonso Henriques is opened at this time.

It is Duarte Pacheco’s period. He was the Mayor of   Lisboa and later appointed Minister for Public Works (1930-43). New quarters designed by the new urbanists are built, with wide streets and a uniform façade design (commonly known as the "Português Suave" style).

Under Duarte Pacheco’s guidance, the municipality decides to build a green park in Monsanto. Traversed by a highway which links Lisbon to the National Stadium, it is planted with trees, a legal system being instituted to expropriate the grounds specially to that effect.

It was then acknowledged that an urbanization plan for the city would have to involve a program of creation of parks and gardens, not only for beauty and their visitors’ sake but also because they should be a reserve of pure air essential to life in the city.

New quarters (Encarnação and Alvalade) are built, preceding the appearance and development of the Olivais and Chelas urbanization, built in compliance with the principles stated in the Letter of Athens.

It is the time of the large open residential blocks separated by green belts, endeavouring to provide more exposure to sunlight and better airing, following models which had already been tested in other countries. It is also at this time that the squares are arranged gardenlike as a result of the urbanistic composition, the aim of which is to create leisure areas and childrens’ playgrounds.

More recently, joint initiatives have been taken by the city council in association with private urbanizations located here and there, which fill in the "still open" spaces of Lisboa’s outskirts.