5 Oldest Cities in Europe

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

5 Oldest Cities in Europe

Walking through any country in Europe is like stepping back in time. There are cathedrals in Italy that are hundreds of years old. There are castles in Britain that have been standing since medieval times. There are ruins of ancient civilizations in Greece and Ireland waiting to be explored. Some of the oldest cities in the world are located in Europe, and many of them date back nearly ten thousand years (which seems pretty incredible for people who live in relatively young countries like the United States). Here is a look at the five oldest cities in Europe, as well as some insight into their long and storied history.

Lisbon, Portugal

Credit: Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

According to its tourism website, Lisbon, Portugal, is one of the least-visited capitals in the world. Established in 1,200 B.C. by the Phoenicians, Lisbon is the fifth oldest city in Europe, and and also one of the oldest cities in the world. After the Celts settled the area, the Phoenicians built a civilization here called Ulissipo. This civilization was later conquered by the Greeks. Then it was taken over by the Carthaginians. After that, the city was seized by the Romans, then the Germans, then Islamic conquerors, all the time absorbing bits and pieces of all of these cultures. Finally, after changing hands (and names) a few more times, things settled down, and Lisbon became a stable and important city due to its location on the sea and the expansion of Portugal’s maritime trade.

Chania, Greece

Credit: Neirfy/Shutterstock

Greece is home to nearly all of the oldest cities in Europe, beginning with the fourth oldest, Chania. While it is difficult to say with certainty when most cities were founded, most sources agree that Chania has been in existence since around 4,000 B.C. Ruins have been found in the area that date back to the Minoan period (which took place between 2,100 and 1,100 B.C.), but other artifacts suggest that the city’s history goes back even further, to the latter part of the Stone Age. The site is rich in historical finds, such as pottery, paintings and coins, many of which you can see in museums today. The city was reportedly destroyed sometime in the 800s, but was rebuilt by the Venetians as the modern, beautiful, coastal city that stands there today.

Argos, Greece

Credit: PanosKarapanagiotis/iStock

Argos, Greece, is located on the Argolid plain in the Peloponnese. It is historically significant due in part to the fact that it is one of the longest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Just like with Chania, Argos’ official founding date is uncertain, but it is thought to have been settled around 5,000 B.C. People have lived in this area since prehistoric times, and continue to live there today. The ancient version of Argos was built on two large hills, Aspis and Larissa, and was a very significant setting for much of the Greek, Hellenistic and Roman periods of history. Today, visitors can still see the remains of Mycenaean tombs and theaters, and can walk along the same paths that the city’s founding fathers did so many centuries before.

Athens, Greece

Credit: sborisov/iStock

According to The Telegraph, Athens, one of Greece’s most well-known cities, has been inhabited since 5,000 B.C., and likely much earlier. Like many Greek cities, this one has a particularly interesting origin story based in mythology. Legend has it that the city got its name after the goddess Athena won a contest against the water god Poseidon. They were competing to see whose powers were more valuable, with Athena planting an olive seed and Poseidon bringing forth a stream of water from a rock. The olive tree that grew there was deemed more important as it brought life to the area, and the city was named after Athena, the goddess of wisdom and war. The city later went on to become the birthplace of democracy. Just like in Argos, many of the original structures of the city still stand, so tourists to the area can see first-hand where all of these incredible things happened.

Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Credit: Rocter/iStock

There is much debate over which city is truly the oldest in Europe (as this is a very difficult thing to prove), but many people believe Plovdiv, Bulgaria, is number one. This city was reportedly founded in about 6,000 B.C. It was built around an important hill called Nebet Tepe, and was expanded and strengthened by the Thracians over the course of the Iron Age. It changed names and hands many times after this, and continued to be inhabited for thousands of years due to its ideal military position (any place with a hilltop lookout is a good place to direct an army) and its status as an important trade center. Today, one can still see evidence of all of the cultures that came before, including the remains of a partially unburied Roman stadium, which peeks out from beneath the city’s main street.

Hurricane Leslie rams into Portugal with 109mph winds: Lisbon devastated by storm

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SUNDAY EXPRESS)

 

Hurricane Leslie rams into Portugal with 109 mph winds: Lisbon devastated by storm

HURRICANE Leslie has devastated Lisbon as it batters Portugal with 109 mph winds leaving 27 people injured.

Heavy rain causes deadly mudslide in Sierra Leone

Authorities urged people to stay indoors and to stay away from coastal areas as the storm brought heavy rain, strong winds and surging seas.

At least 27 people have suffered minor injuries, according to civil defense officials.

The storm was the most intense overnight bringing localized flooding and uprooting thousands of trees.

Civil defense commander Luis Belo Costa said after Saturday night that “the greatest danger has passed”.

More than 300,000 homes have lost power, the commander at the Civil Protection Agency said.

Power authority EDP said more than 200 power lines were affected by the storm.

Over 60 people were forced to leave their homes.

Lisbon was the worst affected and Figueira da Foz, Averio, Viseu and Porto also suffered damage.

Hurricane Leslie has battered the Iberian peninsula

Hurricane Leslie has battered the Iberian peninsula (Image: REUTERS)

Portugal’s weather service had issued red warnings or dangerous coastal conditions for 13 of its 18 mainland districts.

A resident of Figueira da Foz described the storm like a war zone.

They told SIC television: “I have never seen anything like it, The town seemed to be in a state of war, with cars smashed by fallen trees. People were very worried.”

The main motorway in Portugal was blocked by a fallen tree preventing services from traveling.

Hurricane Leslie causes widespread damage in Portugal

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Thousands of trees have been uprooted

The latest forecast for the storm (Image: ACCU-WEATHER)

Hurricane Leslie was downgraded to a tropical storm and by Sunday morning most of the powerful winds and heave rains had subsided.

Spain and southern France have also been affected by the powerful storm.

Winds uprooted trees in the center of Spain early Sunday morning.

Flood warnings have also been issued in the north and northwest of the country for today.

More than 300,000 people have lost power

More than 300,000 people have lost power (Image: REUTERS)

Parts of southern France have also been put on alert for storms and flooding.

The storm formed on September 23 and spent weeks in the Atlantic Ocean before coming to the Iberian peninsula.

It was hovering over the Atlantic for so long because it didn’t encounter a strong enough weather system to force it towards land, according to Accu-weather.

It is rare for an Atlantic hurricane to hit the Iberian peninsula as only five have been recorded.

The last tropical system to follow in Leslie’s path was Vince in 2005.

Portugal: Truth Knowledge And The History Of This Great Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA FACT BOOK)

 

Portugal

Introduction Following its heyday as a world power during the 15th and 16th centuries, Portugal lost much of its wealth and status with the destruction of Lisbon in a 1755 earthquake, occupation during the Napoleonic Wars, and the independence in 1822 of Brazil as a colony. A 1910 revolution deposed the monarchy; for most of the next six decades, repressive governments ran the country. In 1974, a left-wing military coup installed broad democratic reforms. The following year, Portugal granted independence to all of its African colonies. Portugal is a founding member of NATO and entered the EC (now the EU) in 1986
History The early history of Portugal, whose name derives from the Roman name Portus Cale, is shared with the rest of the Iberian Peninsula. The region was settled by Pre-Celts and Celts, giving origin to people like the Gallaeci, Lusitanians, Celtici and Cynetes, visited by Phoenicians and Carthaginians, incorporated in the Roman Republic dominions (as Lusitania after 45 BC), settled again by Suevi, Buri, and Visigoths, and conquered by Moors. Other minor influences include some 5th century vestiges of Alan settlement, which were found in Alenquer, Coimbra and even Lisbon.[6] In 868, during the Reconquista (by which Christians reconquered the Iberian peninsula from the Muslim and Moorish domination), the First County of Portugal was formed. A victory over the Muslims at Ourique in 1139 is traditionally taken as the occasion when Portugal is transformed from a county (County of Portugal as a fief of the Kingdom of León) into an independent kingdom – the Kingdom of Portugal.

On 24 June 1128, the Battle of São Mamede occurred near Guimarães. At the Battle of São Mamede, Afonso Henriques, Count of Portugal, defeated his mother, Countess Teresa, and her lover, Fernão Peres de Trava, in battle – thereby establishing himself as sole leader. Afonso Henriques officially declared Portugal’s independence when he proclaimed himself king of Portugal on 25 July 1139, after the Battle of Ourique, he was recognized as such in 1143 by Afonso VII, king of León and Castile, and in 1179 by Pope Alexander III. Afonso Henriques and his successors, aided by military monastic orders, pushed southward to drive out the Moors, as the size of Portugal covered about half of its present area. In 1249, this Reconquista ended with the capture of the Algarve on the southern coast, giving Portugal its present day borders, with minor exceptions.

In 1373, Portugal made an alliance with England, which is the longest-standing alliance in the world.

In 1383, the king of Castile, husband of the daughter of the Portuguese king who had died without a male heir, claimed his throne. An ensuing popular revolt led to the 1383-1385 Crisis. A faction of petty noblemen and commoners, led by John of Aviz (later John I), seconded by General Nuno Álvares Pereira defeated the Castilians in the Battle of Aljubarrota. This celebrated battle is still a symbol of glory and the struggle for independence from neighboring Spain.

In the following decades, Portugal spearheaded the exploration of the world and undertook the Age of Discovery. Prince Henry the Navigator, son of King João I, became the main sponsor and patron of this endeavor.

In 1415, Portugal gained the first of its overseas colonies when a fleet conquered Ceuta, a prosperous Islamic trade center in North Africa. There followed the first discoveries in the Atlantic: Madeira and the Azores, which led to the first colonization movements.

Throughout the 15th century, Portuguese explorers sailed the coast of Africa, establishing trading posts for several common types of tradable commodities at the time, ranging from gold to slaves, as they looked for a route to India and its spices, which were coveted in Europe. In 1498, Vasco da Gama finally reached India and brought economic prosperity to Portugal and its then population of one million residents.

In 1500, Pedro Álvares Cabral, en route to India, discovered Brazil and claimed it for Portugal. Ten years later, Afonso de Albuquerque conquered Goa, in India, Ormuz in the Persian Strait, and Malacca in what is now a state in Malaysia. Thus, the Portuguese empire held dominion over commerce in the Indian Ocean and South Atlantic. The Portuguese sailors set out to reach Eastern Asia by sailing eastward from Europe landing in such places like Taiwan, Japan, the island of Timor, and it may also have been Portuguese sailors that were the first Europeans to discover Australia.[8]

Portugal’s independence was interrupted between 1580 and 1640. Because the heirless King Sebastian died in battle in Morocco, Philip II of Spain claimed his throne and so became Philip I of Portugal. Although Portugal did not lose its formal independence, it was governed by the same monarch who governed Spain, briefly forming a union of kingdoms, as a personal union; in 1640, John IV spearheaded an uprising backed by disgruntled nobles and was proclaimed king. The Portuguese Restoration War between Portugal and Spain on the aftermath of the 1640 revolt, ended the sixty-year period of the Iberian Union under the House of Habsburg. This was the beginning of the House of Braganza, which was to reign in Portugal until 1910. On 1 November 1755, Lisbon, the largest city and capital of the Portuguese Empire, was strongly shaken by an earthquake which killed thousands and destroyed a large portion of the city.

In the autumn of 1807 Napoleon moved French troops through its allied Spain to invade Portugal. From 1807 to 1811, British-Portuguese forces would successfully fight against the French invasion of Portugal.

Portugal began a slow but inexorable decline until the 20th century. This decline was hastened by the independence in 1822 of the country’s largest colonial possession, Brazil. At the height of European colonialism in the 19th century, Portugal had lost its territory in South America and all but a few bases in Asia. During this phase, Portuguese colonialism focused on expanding its outposts in Africa into nation-sized territories to compete with other European powers there. Portuguese territories eventually included the modern nations of Cape Verde, São Tomé and Príncipe, Guinea-Bissau, Angola, and Mozambique.

In 1910, a revolution deposed the Portuguese monarchy, but chaos continued and considerable economic problems were aggravated by the military intervention in World War I, which led to a military coup d’état in 1926. This in turn led to the establishment of the right-wing dictatorship of the Estado Novo under António de Oliveira Salazar.

In December 1961, the Portuguese army was involved in armed action in its colony of Portuguese India against an Indian invasion. The operations resulted in the defeat of the isolated and relatively small Portuguese defense force which was not able to resist a much larger enemy. The outcome was the loss of the Portuguese territories in the Indian subcontinent.

Also in the early 1960s, independence movements in the Portuguese overseas provinces of Angola, Mozambique, and Portuguese Guinea, in Africa, resulted in the Portuguese Colonial War (1961–1974). In April 1974, a bloodless left-wing military coup in Lisbon, known as the Carnation Revolution, led the way for a modern democracy as well as the independence of the last colonies in Africa shortly after. However, Portugal’s last overseas territory, Macau (Asia), was not handed over to the People’s Republic of China until as late as 1999.

From the 1940s to the 1960s, Portugal was a founding member of NATO, OECD and EFTA. In 1986, Portugal joined the European Union (then the European Economic Community). In 1999, Portugal was one of the founding countries of the euro and the Eurozone. It is also a co-founder of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP), established in 1996 and headquartered in Lisbon.

Geography Location: Southwestern Europe, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, west of Spain
Geographic coordinates: 39 30 N, 8 00 W
Map references: Europe
Area: total: 92,391 sq km
land: 91,951 sq km
water: 440 sq km
note: includes Azores and Madeira Islands
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than Indiana
Land boundaries: total: 1,214 km
border countries: Spain 1,214 km
Coastline: 1,793 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
Climate: maritime temperate; cool and rainy in north, warmer and drier in south
Terrain: mountainous north of the Tagus River, rolling plains in south
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Ponta do Pico (Pico or Pico Alto) on Ilha do Pico in the Azores 2,351 m
Natural resources: fish, forests (cork), iron ore, copper, zinc, tin, tungsten, silver, gold, uranium, marble, clay, gypsum, salt, arable land, hydropower
Land use: arable land: 17.29%
permanent crops: 7.84%
other: 74.87% (2005)
Irrigated land: 6,500 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 73.6 cu km (2005)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 11.09 cu km/yr (10%/12%/78%)
per capita: 1,056 cu m/yr (1998)
Natural hazards: Azores subject to severe earthquakes
Environment – current issues: soil erosion; air pollution caused by industrial and vehicle emissions; water pollution, especially in coastal areas
Environment – international agreements: party to: Air Pollution, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Environmental Modification
Geography – note: Azores and Madeira Islands occupy strategic locations along western sea approaches to Strait of Gibraltar
Politics Portugal is a democratic republic ruled by the constitution of 1976 with Lisbon, the nation’s largest city, as its capital. The four main governing components are the president of the republic, the assembly of the republic, the government, and the courts. The constitution grants the division or separation of powers among legislative, executive, and judicial branches. Portugal like most European countries has no state religion, making it a secular state.

The president, who is elected to a five-year term, has a supervising, non-executive role. The current President is Aníbal Cavaco Silva. The Assembly of the Republic is a unicameral parliament composed of 230 deputies elected for four-year terms. The government is headed by the prime minister (currently José Sócrates), who chooses the Council of Ministers, comprising all the ministers and the respective state secretaries.

The national and regional governments (those of Azores and Madeira autonomous regions), and the Portuguese parliament, are dominated by two political parties, the Socialist Party and the Social Democratic Party. Minority parties Unitarian Democratic Coalition (Portuguese Communist Party plus Ecologist Party “The Greens”), Bloco de Esquerda (Left Bloc) and CDS-PP (People’s Party) are also represented in the parliament and local governments.

The courts are organized into categories, including judicial, administrative, and fiscal. The supreme courts are the courts of last appeal. A thirteen-member constitutional court oversees the constitutionality of legislation.

People Population: 10,676,910 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 16.4% (male 912,995/female 835,715)
15-64 years: 66.2% (male 3,514,905/female 3,555,097)
65 years and over: 17.4% (male 764,443/female 1,093,755) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 39.1 years
male: 37 years
female: 41.3 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.305% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 10.45 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 10.62 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: 3.23 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.09 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.7 male(s)/female
total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 4.85 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 5.31 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 4.36 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 78.04 years
male: 74.78 years
female: 81.53 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.49 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 0.4% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 22,000 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: fewer than 1,000 (2003 est.)
Nationality: noun: Portuguese (singular and plural)
adjective: Portuguese
Ethnic groups: homogeneous Mediterranean stock; citizens of black African descent who immigrated to mainland during decolonization number less than 100,000; since 1990 East Europeans have entered Portugal
Religions: Roman Catholic 84.5%, other Christian 2.2%, other 0.3%, unknown 9%, none 3.9% (2001 census)
Languages: Portuguese (official), Mirandese (official – but locally used)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 93.3%
male: 95.5%
female: 91.3% (2003 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 15 years
male: 15 years
female: 16 years (2006)
Education expenditures: 5.5% of GDP (2005)

Man Stabs Four Neighbors To Death In Northern Portugal

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF REUTERS)

Man stabs four neighbors to death in northern Portugal

A Portuguese man stabbed four people to death in a rural area in the north of the country on Friday before surrendering to police, who said all the victims were the suspect’s neighbors.

The man confessed to killing an elderly couple and a woman in their homes, and then another woman in the street in Tamel, a village on the outskirts of Barcelos, some 380 km north of Lisbon.

“The suspect has surrendered and confessed the crimes,” said a duty police officer in the regional center of Barcelos, adding that all the victims died from neck wounds.

“The investigation continues and is looking into the motives, but it appears to be a local problem between neighbors.”

(Reporting By Andrei Khalip, editing by Axel Bugge and Toby Davis)

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