Lisbon is the capital and largest city in Portugal. It is also the most prosperous region of the country - it may come as a surprise that Lisbon has the tenth largest GDP of any metropolitan area in Europe. If you are going to Lisbon, here are five must-see sites:
Tower of Belem (Torre de Belém). Portugal's most famous tower was built in the 16^th century in the Tagus River to protect the city from invaders. Considering its purpose, the tower is surprisingly ornate. Built in the Portuguese variant of the Gothic style, its decorative exterior features elaborate limestone ornaments and beautifully sculpted balconies that reflect Portugal's power and riches during the Age of Discovery.
Sé Cathedral. Built in the 12^th century, shortly after the city's reconquest from the Moors, this cathedral is one of the oldest buildings in the city. It was built on the site of a mosque to "purify" the city. It suffered major damage in an earthquake in 1755, when much of the interior was destroyed and the south tower collapsed.
Rossio Square. Officially named Praca Dom Pedro IV, this square comprises the lively heart of downtown Lisbon. It is the busiest square in the city and is lined with popular shops, restaurants, and cafés. In its center are two ornate Baroque fountains on either side of a 75-foot-tall monument to Dom Pedro IV, who was both king of Portugal and the first emperor of Brazil. The monument is a popular meeting spot. Many heretics were burned in Rossio Square during the Inquisition.
Castle of St. George (Castelo de São Jorge). This medieval castle was once home to Portuguese royalty. Built in the 11^th century during the Moorish era, it sits on Lisbon's highest hill, where it was the last Moorish stronghold against the Christian army of King Alfonso. In 1502 a palace was built within the castle walls for the comfort of the royals. Visitors can get an eye-catching view of the city from atop the castle's outer walls.
Monastery of (Mosteiro dos) Jerónimos. Completed in the 16^th century, this monastery is one of the most important landmarks in Lisbon. It somehow survived the 1755 earthquake, unlike most of the city. The monastery was built by Manuel I during the heyday of Portugal's power and wealth as a seafaring nation. It was a tradition for seafarers to pray there before setting out on voyages around the globe.