Although Vasco da Gama is not originally from Lisbon, the city pays tribute to his great feat and the discovery of a sea route to India. He was declared the Admiral of the Indian Seas and he started the Age of Discovery for Portugal that lasted till the 20th century. Linking Europe to Asia by sea was beneficial to the country because thus Portugal got enlarged and obtained colonial territories in Asia. Last but not least this new ocean route connecting the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean meant less disputes in regards to the crossing of the Mediterranean Sea and the Arabian Peninsula. In other words said, Vasco da Gama’s discovery and voyages were almost equal to that of Christopher Columbus. That’s why the Portuguese have always been grateful to him and have always commemorated his merits in Lisbon and in the city’s Eastern parish and the Park of Nations, in particular.
T H E P A R K O F N A T I O N S
Parque das Nações has a very futuristic outlook. It was designed and built for World Expo 98’ in Lisbon. The major theme was related to the oceans (“The Oceans. The Heritage for the Future”) and that’s the reason why the reconstructed and rebuilt buildings at Lisbon’s eastern waterfront were designed in a very “oceanic” style. And again the Portuguese have managed to interweave their history in them? What do I mean exactly?
Torre Vasco da Gama (the Vasco da Gama Tower) is one of the many symbols in the park of Nations. It was built for the World Fair at the height of 145metres and nowadays it houses a luxury hotel and restaurant as well as a view point to the city. The nearby bridge also bears the name of the great explorer. The 17-km Vasco da Gama Bridge was also opened for Expo 98’ and it was the longest bridge on the Old Continent. Later it was left behind the tunnel bridge connecting Denmark to Sweden. Nowadays it is one of the longest bridges in the world and a symbol of Lisbon. What else? Of course, the twin towers (São Gabriel and São Rafael) should be mentioned as well. They are residential and business buildings in the shape of giant sailboats and bear the names of Vasco da Gama’s ships.
After a lovely walk in the park, one could take an air trip in the cable car. The whole Park of Nations could be enjoyed from above until Oceanário de Lisboa is reached. This is one of the largest indoor aquaria on the Old Continent and in the world. The exhibits of ocean fish species and plants there are really amazing and unforgettable. There are also numerous educational activities both for children and adults for conservation of nature and ocean world, in particular.
And finally, we could end our Lisbon fairy-tale on the Southern bank of the Tagus River. Ready? Okay, then … We are sailing, we are sailing ….. to the New World 🙂 click-click