The Islamic presence in Lisbon

Wed, 20.02.2019

A walking tour through the Islamic Al-Lixbûnâ

On the 20th of February our Portuguese language school organized a walking tour about the Islamic presence in Lisbon. Unfortunately the Islamic period of the Portuguese History is taught in a negative way. The Muslims are represented as villains and the Christians as brave soldiers and heroes. This negative view it’s wrong. The Muslims had an important role to the economic development of Al-Lixbûnâ (Lisbon in Arabic).

Indira Leão, our history teacher, guided us during the tour. We started in Saint George’s Castle. The castle was built by the Muslims after 711, when the troops led by Abdalazize ibne Muça conquered the city. Al-Lixbûnâ was built according to the Islamic model. Inside the fortifications of the castle, there was the quasabah (alcazaba), the political and military center of the city. Some years ago, a group of archaeologists found traces of a mosque inside the castle.

Indira told us that the Islamic control of the Iberian Peninsula was a slow process. The Muslims didn’t want to conquer militarily the territory; they only want to make trade. At the beginning of the VIII century, the Visigoth kingdoms were very fragmented. The Muslims took advantage of that situation and settled in the Iberian Peninsula.

We had the opportunity to see one part of Cerca Moura. It is the oldest wall in Lisbon and was used to protect the city during the Muslim presence. The Muslim society tolerated the Christians and the Jews in exchange for money; however, the mozarabics (moçárabes) were more marginalized.

We went to the Sé Catedral de Lisboa. Some archaeologists defend that under the Sé there was a mosque.

After the tour, we drank a hot chocolate in Confeitaria Nacional.

Check out our photos of this walking tour:


Tracking the traces of the Islamic presence in Lisbon

You might be familiar with one of the most emblematic episodes of Lisbon’s History. We are referring to the Christian conquest of Lisbon to the moors in 1147. Most people know what happened next to this event. However, do you know what happened before? How was Lisbon during the Islamic presence? We’ll give you the answers that you need in our next walking tour on the 20th of February.

Indira Leão, our history teacher, will guide us during the last tour of the month! Al-Lixbûnâ was the Arabic name for Lisbon. The Islamic presence in Lixbûnâ begins in the year 719. The Islamic conquest of Lisbon represented the destruction of the Visigoth Kingdom and the creation of a new one: the Al-Andalus. The Islamic presence in Portugal influenced the language, incorporating several Arabic words such as Algarve and Alentejo.

We’ll visit the Sé de Lisboa, place where, according with some historians and archaeologists, a mosque was settled. Then, we’ll be in the ancient Islamic Medina (name given to the Islamic cities). The Medina was located in the present area of Castelo de São Jorge, in the interior of the Cerca Moura. In the Medina it was established the Alcazaba, where the alcaide, the governor of the city, lived.

In Portas do Sol, we’ll see the Cerca Moura, the oldest defensive wall used by the Muslims. We’ll walk through the main trails of Alfama, centre of the Moorish city. Alfama still preserves its Islamic urbanistic trace with several narrow streets and alleys.

In the end of our tour we’ll socialize and enjoy the views in the Miradouro das Portas do Sol!

Don’t miss this amazing chance to know another side of Lisbon, and keep posted on the events in our website.