The Westernmost Capital of Continental Europe

Which city is the westernmost capital city of mainland Europe?

And the answer: Lisbon.    

The capital of Portugal is Lisbon, which has the unique distinction of being the most westerly capital city of mainland Europe. Located near the Atlantic Ocean, the Lisbon metropolitan region includes an area called Cabo da Roca, which is the overall westernmost point of continental Europe.

Photo credit: Photo: Getty Images/Sean Pavone. 

Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in western Europe, yet it is also one of the trendiest and most tourist friendly cities of the modern day. Its natural harbor is one of the most uniquely beautiful in the world, and has served as a strategic site of trade between Europe, Africa, and the Atlantic, making it one of the most accessed in Europe.

Over the millennia of Lisbon's lifetime, it's taken on a number of different forms. After the region was settled by the Celts, it was then founded by the Phoenicians. They established a settlement called Ulissipo, which was then conquered by the Greeks and Carthaginians. For several hundred years, the city retained the name Ulissipo – Portuguese folk etymology holds that the name derives from its supposed founder, Odysseus of The Odyssey – until the 8th century invasion by Islamic Moors. From then on the city was called Al-Usbuna. With time, the name simplified to the current Portuguese name: Lisboa.

In 1755, the city was all-but destroyed by an intense earthquake. The Portuguese ruler Marquis de Pombal began reconstruction soon after, bringing with it Lisbon's reinvention into the bustling, modern metropolis we know today. In 1994, the city was designated a European City of Culture, and in '98, Lisbon hosted the World's Fair. The event spurred the largest renewal project since 1755, leading to the creation of the combined road-rail Vasco da Gama Bridge and other extensive upgrades of the city’s transportation infrastructure. Marinas, hotels, commercial complexes, and entertainment venues were constructed along the beautiful Tagus River.

Learn more about the extensive and fascinating history of Lisbon here.

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