As a city, Lisbon reached its zenith in the 14th and 15th centuries, when its explorers cconquered the world's oceans and the city was at the heart of an empire that stretched from Brazil to India. Many of its grandest buildings, such as those along the waterfront in the suburb of Bélem, are legacies of that Golden Age.
Most of the city centre Baixa area only dates back to the 18th century, when a large swathe of Lisbon had to be rebuilt after the devastating Great Earthquake of 1755. Unlike most European capitals, the city failed to modernise, and despite its rough-edged charm, right up until the late 20th century it was widely regarded as a rundown poverty-stricken place.
Lisbon's transformation over the last decade has helped the city finally grow up.