Monday, November 28, 2016


The first thing that struck me visiting Lisbon, Portugal was how old some of the structures, walls and roads were. I thought of London as having old buildings relative to the warmer climes of South Africa. This was older still. Where the world's oldest city is, is controversial. Aleppo, Syria, is the leading contender. Permanent buildings add evidence more than dances with nature. The indigenous Khoikhoi people of South Africa dismantled huts when they moved.

A Lisbon Cathedral suggest Phoenician presence in Portugal since 1200 BC.  Who has controlled the area has changed several times. 

It was inhabited by Neanderthals before Homo Sapiens arrived. Then Celts invaded. Then they joined Romans to fight Carthage. Then the Germanic barbarians conquered Rome. Then the Muslim Moors conquered them. Then Roman Catholicized Germanic people reconquered the area. Then Europe exploded onto the world scene. 

In the 15th and 16th century Portugal established the first global empire. In 1755, Lisbon experienced a catastrophic earthquake which checked Portugal's colonial ambitions. 40-60 thousand of a population of 275,000 were killed. In 1815, the Portuguese State became the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves, and the Capital moved from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro. The only  instance of a European country being ruled from one of its colonies. The King of Portugal soon returned, but his son who stayed was crowned Emperor of a newly independent Empire of Brazil.

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