Evolution of a Crane and Hoist in Ancient Rome

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The History of Tourism in Ancient Greece and Rome.

Tourism in Ancient Greece and Rome: Historic Evolution of Tourism

This is the first part of an investigation of the History of Tourism. The second part, Tourism in the Middle Ages can be read here
Tourism is a series of trips made for pleasure or for commercial, professional or similar reasons, during which the absence of habitual residence is only temporary.

Triumph Arch in Via Agrippa - Orange - (France) Tourism in Ancient Greece and Rome
Triumph Arch in Via Agrippa - Orange - (France)

Modern tourism was born in the XIX century, as a consequence of the Industrial Revolution, with displacements between distant places, with the main intention of developing leisure, rest, culture, health, business or family relations.

These movements are differentiated by their purpose of other types of travel originated by wars, migratory movements or conquest. But tourism has many historical antecedents.


Ancient Age Tourism: Greece

In 776 BC, the first Olympic Games were held, which consisted of athletic competitions in honor of the Gods of Olympus. Artistic and athletic offerings were offered as a gift. Many times sacrifices and prayers were also performed in honor of some god in particular.


 Acropolis - Atenas -- Tourism in Ancient Greece and Rome
Acropolis - Atenas - Tourism in Ancient Greece and Rome

Although lesser known, the Pitios, Ismios and Nemeos festivals were also celebrated. These celebrations mobilized a large number of people, who of course, needed transportation and roads to travel. The roads system was very similar to that of the Persians and they usually traveled on foot or by donkey. 

Greece had a network of inns that only offered a bed for the night. They did not have dining rooms or bathrooms

It is also known that in each city public baths were built, open to everyone, where tourists of that time had to bring their own towels. They took off their clothes and kept them in special lockers, and then a slave took care of the hygiene with jars of hot and cold water.

Acropolis & Pyramids

Pilgrimages to the different temples of Greece and to the oracles were very common. the most important one was that of Apollo in Delphi and among the most visited sanctuaries is the one of Esculapio, god of medicine.

The Greek lands also offered medicinal baths. Also seaside resorts, theater festivals and the opportunity to see monuments such as the Acropolis of Athens. The Acropolis are from the fifth century BC became one of the most visited sites in the world ancient along with the pyramids of Egypt. These were two of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

The Greeks visited other regions, such as Egypt. In most cases these visits were for military or trade matters, although it is known that the pyramids attracted many tourists.


Roman Theater - Orange - France Tourism in Ancient Greece and Rome
Roman Theater - Orange - France


In ancient Greece there were offices called proxenos. Here foreigners were received (it is remembered that foreigners did not have any kind of rights because of their status as non-citizens). It was for people who had problems to return to their city or country.

They could also need lodging, or even a loan to continue their trip. Many times the managers of these almost consular offices, arranged with merchants passages in boat where the tourists could take their own servants, offering them food and drink.


You may be interested: Religious Tourism in the Middle Ages

Slaves & Tourism

In classical Greece free men gave great importance to leisure, and devoted it to culture, entertainment, religion and sport. We must remember that all these activities could only be done by free men of the upper class or the Nobles. Many slaves were also available at that time.

Approximately seven slaves for each free man. It is for this reason that tourism was an exclusive activity of wealthy class that moved with servants, slaves and a considerable guard for protection. The tourist activity that was not religious or to attend the Olympic games was scarce.


Amphitheaters & Odeon of Lyon (France) -- Tourism in Ancient Greece and Rome
Tourism in Ancient Greece and Rome: Odeon of Lyon (France) -

Tourism in the Roman Empire

During Roman Empire, the Romans frequented thermal waters and great spectacles, like the theaters, and the coliseums. They made trips to the Mediterranean coast in the city of Pompeii and Herculaneum, Campania area (near Naples).Also the island of Capri, where there were summer residences. The Emperor Tiberius had a villa on the island of Capri (today you can visit its ruins).
These pleasure trips were possible due to Pax Romana, the development of communication routes. They also influenced economic prosperity due to the trade that allowed the creation of an upper class. And of course free time.

A Bit of Roman History

Amphitheaters of Nimes (France) - Ancient Tourism
Amphitheaters of Nimes (France)

During the empire (27 BC to 476 AD) begins a period of absolutism in Rome, where the emperor was chosen by the army. With Octavio Augusto (first emperor) the Pax Romana was achieved, which lasted approximately 200 years. In this epoch is where the Roman tourism had its maxima.
The empire was divided into provinces that in turn were divided into Municipium and Coloniae.  It is depending on their legal hierarchy Each territorial division had services for public enjoyment and entertainment, which were sometimes visited by inhabitants of other territories.

Temple of Juno- Nimes France
Temple of Juno- Nimes France

All Roads Lead to Rome

These attractions were temples, circus maxima, pantheons, basilicas, markets, amphitheatres and theaters. All the provinces and colonies communicated through a network of roads, roads and roads, which began to be built around 150 BC, covering some 100,000 miles. This allowed to reach the entire empire from Scotland and Germany to Egypt, Persia and Crimea

Roman Roads -- Tourism in Ancient Greece and Rome
Roman Roads -- Tourism in Ancient Greece and Rome

Only for Military Use

In the beginning the Roman roads were designed for military use. Legions and military equipment could be moved much faster than if they were transferred to cross country. The time of transfer between cities was shortened not only for military use but for trade and tourism.

Patrician families used to send their children to Greece to receive rhetoric and philosophy classes. In this case, the route by sea was the most chosen, for the comforts and speed compared to the terrestrial displacement. Accommodation facilities on routes far from the Roman metropolis were very scarce.

Julio César, who was traveling at an extraordinary speed, traveled from the Rhone ( germany)  to Rome in about eight days. However, the fastest journey of antiquity was, the one that made Tiberius to Drusus from Tichinum in Germany, a distance of 200 miles, made in 20 hours even though he had only one guide and had to make several changes of mount.


ORBIS  - University of Stanford  Raod & Network Calculator on Line


ORBIS  - University of Stanford  Raod & Network Calculator on Line
Tourism in Ancient Greece and Rome

The Roman Empire Roads

There were stone signs indicating the distance to the next city, the name of the road, its construction date and its constructor Every 10 miles approx. There were some posts where travelers could change their exhausted horses and even eat. It was through these trade routes that tourism was developed as a secondary activity. Maritime routes were also used, being the main ports those of Alexandria / Egypt), Ostia (Italy)  and Cartago Nova ( Spain).

A Denarius per Mile

Besides being dangerous, traveling in ancient Rome was also very expensive, especially by Land. Only those who had good reasons to travel traveled, be they economic or, more often, military. A long overland carriage ride could cost on the order of a denarius per mile. According to the Bible, a denarius was the daily salary of a worker, so one can get used to the idea of the enormous economic effort involved in moving around the Empire.

Stones on The Roads

Plutarch, attributed to Gaius Graco, the placement of stones on the sides of the road, at close distance from each other, so that those who traveled on horseback could ride from them without the assistance of slaves. Keep in mind that the Romans did not use stirrups when riding.
The roads had a post service every five or six Roman miles and it was possible to travel through the Roman Empire at a rate of about one hundred miles a day or more. The journey from Antioch to Constantinople, a distance of 752 miles could be made in about six or seven days.

Triumph Arch in Via Domitia - Saint Remy de Provence - (France)- Tourism in Ancient Greece and Rome
Triumph Arch in Via Domitia and Mausoleum of Glanum - Saint Remy de Provence - (France)

The mausoleum of Glanum is a Roman funerary monument located in the ancient city of Glanum, near the city of Saint-Rémy de Provence (France). Built between the years 30 and 20 BC (August Emperor) It is a tribute to a family of Gallic origin that obtained Roman citizenship fighting in the Roman army. There is an inscription in the mummies

--SEX (your) M (arcus) L (ucius) IVLIEI C (aii) • F (ilii) PARENTIBVS SVEIS--
SEXTUS, LUCIUS (and) MARCUS IULII (Julia) SONS of CAIUS (dedicate this) to their parents

Gaius Julius Caesar - Academic Trip and Kidnapping

Julius Caesar, in 75 B.C. He had had to flee from Rome since he was at odds with the Roman dictator Sila. Banished to the Aegean Islands to avoid the assassins of Sila, he devoted himself to study and prepare for when he returned to Rome. It was just on a trip to study at the Oratory and Eloquence Academy of Molon of Rodas was tackled by sackcloth pirates - (Cilicia, on the south coast of present-day Turkey)

The pirates valued the rescue to be requested by the crew in a total of 20 talents. Julius Caesar to the astonishment of the pirates, he told them to ask for nothing more and nothing less than 50 talents for his life. Obviously the pirates had nothing to object to.

A talent corresponded to the weight of a cubic foot of water, which in ancient Rome amounted to 75 Pounds / 1200 oz. If we say that gold, today, is U$S 1400 per Oz, Total are U$S 1,680,000 per tatent

Gaius Julius Caesar was transferred to the island of Farmacusa (off the coast of Halicarnassus), where he stayed, together with a friend and two servants held by the pirates. The rest of the crew was sent to seek rescue. It was 38 days before the envoys came with the money, in which the chroniclers (Plutarch, especially) tells that Julius Caesar, rather than being imprisoned, lived like a king

He dedicated himself to sports, writing poetry, studying and writing speeches - which forced his kidnappers to listen - and even silenced the pirates when they wouldn't let him sleep.

During his captivity, Julius Caesar threated that when he was released, he would capture them, recover the money and crucify them. Obviously, the pirates didn't take it too seriously. Once the rescue was obtained Julio César was released

Once released he went to Pergamum, where he got 500 soldiers and 4 ships, returning to Farmacusa and catching the pirates in full celebration for their loot, capturing them without too much trouble. The 350 pirates were taken to Pergamum again. There, Julius Caesar sent everyone to 30, who were crucified as he had promised. of course, as a humanitarian detail made them slaughter before crucifying them.

In this way, Julius Caesar  apart from creating a reputation that did not leave him until Bruto murdered him many years later, he managed to keep the 50 rescue talents. 


Tourism: Only the Upper Class

The Roman citizens were very fond of tourism, in most cases for pleasure. We must consider that it is the same case as the Greeks. Only free noble and upper class men could afford a tourist transfer. This transfer included servants, slaves, clients and armed escort. This was both by land and by sea. 
The only documented case of the displacement of a high class and noble character was that of Cato the Elder, Senator and Roman governor of Hispania (Present Spain). Cato was mobilized on foot or on horseback with only one servant. The day he left to be governor he sold the horse so as not to cause more expenses to the treasury. Needless to say, his example was not imitated by anyone.

Roman Theater - Orange -- (France) Tourism in Ancient Greece and Rome
Roman Theater - Orange - France -- Tourism in Ancient Greece and Rome

Returning to the main theme, tourism among the Romans included a displacement overnight at least one night and less than a year to a place of destination. All this done, of course, in free time. They had a lot of free time, getting to have 200 holidays a year (in 345 AD)

Non-Religious Tourism

The Romans traveled to see the temples of the Mediterranean, the pyramids and monuments of Egypt. Also to attend the Olympic Games in Greece and the prosperous markets of Asia Minor. In these markets there were many exotic items never seen in Rome, with which to decorate the villas of Campania.

They also hired local guides and consulted papyri that explained a certain area and their entertainment possibilities. They were the tour guides of that time. Of course they bought something smaller as souvenirs and had a tendency to engrave the traveler's name on the stones of the monuments they visited. This was at the request of the inhabitants, since the prestige of a noble visitor attracted more tourists.


Temple of Juno - Nimes - (France) Tourism in Ancient Greece and Rome
Temple of Juno - Nimes - (France) -Tourism in Ancient Greece and Rome

The trips were made for pleasure, business or health or religious issues. Religious tourism and pilgrimages to both Greek and Roman temples became part of almost every tourist itinerary. But it was not about devotion but about entertainment. These temples were visited by tourists who in some cases were no longer sacred places, but monuments to visit. (almost equal to what happens today in the Catholic churches of Europe)

Weekend Roman Villas: Capri & Pompeii

The Romans also liked to spend a leisure time away from the city and used to move to the Campania (Naples). From the time of the empire of Octavius ​​Augustus, the Senate was no longer an institution of power. The emperor reigned and were not consulted.

The senators retired to live in the countryside, near Rome but away from it. The area chosen was Campania, Cities such as Pompeii, Herculaneum, Tivoli, Beneventum and Islands such as Capri, where luxury villas were built. Infrastructure was also built as additional roads, ports, passenger ships, inns and markets.

Pompeii History
Pompeii History of Tourism

The houses in the city of Rome became the second residence and the country villa the habitual residence. You find the infrastructure was also built in those country places. Amphitheatres (Pompeii), circus maxima, thermal baths and medicinal baths. all this thanks to the pax romana that lasted approximately 250 years from the reign of Octavius Augustus.

Emperor Caracalla built in Rome the baths that bear his name. They were public baths that had steam rooms, pools of hot water (caldarium) and cold (frigidarium), gymnastics, rest and massage rooms. There were also writing rooms, libraries and gardens. 

On the island of Capri, the Tiberian emperor built a luxurious villa with a swimming pool. You can still visit today's day

Amphitheaters for all

The construction of the Maximum Circus and the Colosseum in Rome, led to tourism also going in the other direction. Inhabitants of the entire empire wished to know Rome. The network of roads, security and the pax romana contributed to a flow of tourists to the Rome.

They also built amphitheatres like the Colosseum in Rome and theaters in other cities, which also enjoyed a fair share of tourists. We can name the theater of Orange (France) and the amphitheaters of Nimes and Arles (France).  That amphitheaters can be visited nowadays and in a very good state of conservation.

amphitheaters of Nimes and Arles (France) Tourism in Ancient Greece and Rome
Amphitheater of Nimes (France)


My Darling, and if We Visit Esparta?

During the Roman domination in Greece, the city of Sparta, powerful and famous in other times became a focus of tourism on the part of the Roman upper class. Sparta no longer had possibilities of any kind, military or economic or political. But focused on their ancestral military education to young people. The education of the It was so hard that it became a tourist attraction in itself

Amphitheater in Sparta Tourism in Ancient Greece and Rome
Amphitheater in Sparta -Tourism in Ancient Greece and Rome


The Ritual

The ritual combats that had traditionally been fought in the Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia, under Roman domination, became the dimastígosis (they existed for a long time) ,  where the children were scourged and sometimes even death. Also the Romans had a deep curiosity to discover how a city so feared in its time, I am reduced to a town of goat herders and a circus military education.

Cicero tells in the Tusculanas (II 34) how Spartan education and its excesses had become a spectacle that attracted tourists. The crowd that comes to the show is so numerous that it was necessary to build an amphitheater in front of the temple to welcome it. This show attracted tourists until the fourth century of our era. Documented by Libanio in his Discourses, (I, 23).


Rome amphitheater. Coliseum - History of Tourism
Rome Amphitheater. Coliseum- Italy  - History of Tourism 

History of Tourism in Middle Ages

The Religious Tourism in the Middle Ages Fall of the Roman Empire History of Medieval Tourism – How did you travel in the Middle Ages?:The fall of the Roman Empire plunged the European continent into a period of great confusion and disorder. For a time there was also an almost permanent state of war between the barbarian chiefs, who had invaded the ancient Roman empire. This contributed to the weakening of all forms of centralized government power. History of Tourism …

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Enjoying Lisbon in 2020

Enjoying Lisbon from the First Day

Enjoying Lisbon:  I'm going to tell you my best days in Lisbon, which was the capital of an empire. All lisboa remembers his glorious padado. Like when sailors came out to discover and conquer lands on the other side of the world.

You see old faded tiles on their facades. Peeling walls and stone streets lined with old trams. No great luxuries or European stores are sought in this city, although they do. What is sought and found is a melancholic beauty, art, imperfection and the charm of the people.

Lisbon Tram tour - Enjoying Lisbon in 2020
Lisbon Tram tour - Enjoying Lisbon in 2020

Portugal is fashionable

Last year it was awarded for the second time as Europe's Best Destination in the World Travel Awards (WTA) They are prizes of the world tourism industry. And Lisbon turned out to be the Best City in Europe and the Best Cruise Port.


The Tajo River

At the mouth of the Tajo River, facing the Atlantic Ocean, the capital of Portugal has seven hills. Rome too, although they are totally different.

Like Rome, Lisbon was the capital of an empire. It was rich and powerful. Adventuress. I conquer seas and land in the five continents

But in 1755 at the height of his empire an earthquake of scale 9 along with a Tsumani, buried and killed a third of its inhabitants, about 95,000 on a population of 280,000.

Tajo River - Enjoying Lisbon in 2020
Tajo River - Enjoying Lisbon in 2020

Earthquake, Tsunami and Fires

The reports that arrived until today indicate that the earthquake lasted six minutes. It produced cracks up to 4 meters wide in the center of the city. The population fled to the open space of the beach for safety. There 30 minutes later, a tsunami with waves up to 20 meters high buried the port and the inhabitants.

The upper part of the city began to burn, because of the huge number of candles lit in the houses and churches. that day was a religious celebration. Deads day. The fires lasted 5 days before going out

Everything Was Lost

The city had to be completely rebuilt. The losses were enormous. The Royal Palace and the Real do Paço da Ribeira Theater, where the Plaça do Comércio, ( Trade Square) is located, next to the river, were destroyed. Works of art by masters of painting such as Rubens, Titian, Correggio, also destroyed. The great library, with real records that narrated the explorations by the ocean of its most important navigators, such as Vasco da Gama and letters about the discovery of Brazil, were also lost.

What Can We See in Lisbon?

Plaça do Comércio, with its beautiful arch, is the main square of the city. Overlooking the river Tajo and behind the arcades, you will find the oldest cafe in Lisbon. It is called Martinho da Arcada (Plaça do Comércio 3), founded in 1778.

My Lovely Days in Lisbon - Santa Lucia viewpoint
My Best Days in Lisbon - Santa Lucia viewpoint

From the Martinho bar you can take the walk towards Alfama. It is less than a mile uphill, by Alfândenga rúa.

Lisbon: Alfama Neighborhood

Alfama is a medieval neighborhood, where fado was born, the national musical genre. And also where the fishermen lived in recent times. It is very visited by the charm of its steep, labyrinthine streets, with very simple shops.

You can also have a coffee at the tables on the street. next to clothes rendered. Very charming to enjoy Lisbon in this way

In the Rua (street) of the Bacalhoeiros, the street that was destined to the merchants of the cod, favorite fish of the Portuguese, you arrive at Casa dos Bicos, current headquarters of the José Saramago Foundation.

In the lower part of Alfama, this sixteenth century mansion was built under the order of Brás de Albuquerque (son of the Viceroy of India, Alfonso de Albuquerque) after a trip to Italy, which was modeled on the Palace of Diamonds, located in Ferrara. That is the reason for the fornas and reliefs of its façade.

Praça do Comércio Lisbon Portugal
Praça do Comércio Lisbon Portugal

Casa dos Bicos dedicates a permanent exhibition about the life and work of the Nobel Prize for Literature - Jose Saramago -, called The Seed and the Fruits. It gathers numerous manuscripts, documents, first editions and translations in more than 40 languages, of the first Nobel Prize in Portuguese Literature. The Portuguese writer died in 2010 at his home in Lanzarote. His ashes rest under an olive tree in front of this foundation. 

Praza do Comercio - Square Trade - Enjoying Lisbon in 2020
Praca do Comercio - Square Trade - Enjoying Lisbon in 2020

Fado: The Music of Lisbon

Going up the Rua (street) of São Jõao da Praça you can see many restaurants and fado houses to enjoy a dinner with live music. Alfama is the ideal place to enjoy this popular genre of more than 200 years of history, which tells the daily sorrows of the people of these old fishing districts.

A place with excellent fame to hear Fado, is the restaurant Mr. Fado. It is a small place with an intimate, family atmosphere, where homemade food is served. Located on the street - rua dos Remedios 176. It is attended by its owners, who cook and also sing.

Belem Neighborhood

To visit the Neighborhood of belem take tram #15 in the plaza del comercio ( Trade square) and after 20 minutes we arrive at the neighborhood of Belem. Here we have a defensive tower built in 1516.
  It is the work of Francisco de Arruda and Diogo de Boitaca. When it stopped serving as a defense of invaders in the estuary of the Tajo River, it was used as a prison, as a lighthouse and also as a tax collection center to enter the city. It is also known as Torre de San Vicente, as it was erected in honor of San Vicente Mártir, patron saint of Lisbon. Its original name was Castelo de São Vicente

Belem Monument - Enjoying Lisbon in 2020
Belem Monument - Enjoying Lisbon in 2020

Cod & Pasteis de Belem

Portuguese cuisine has a predominant dish: cod. They are the main consumers of this fish worldwide. The habit began in 1350 after a fishing agreement of 50 years that allowed the fishermen of Lisbon and Porto to catch cod on the English coast. The great advantage of this fish is that once salted, it resisted up to three months before it was consumed. Today it is consumed salty, dry or fresh, and comes from Norway, Iceland and Russia.

There are more than 1000 ways to prepare cod, but the most common are three. The bacalhau á bras or golden cod (a scrambled egg with potatoes, eggs and olives), the cod to the Portuguese and the classic, caldeirada of fish (fish casserole with potatoes, tomatoes, onion, peppers, peas). The recipes can be seen here. Check here the best travel gadgets to travel to Lisbon by plane or any means of transport

Belem Tower - Enjoying Lisbon in 2020
Belem Tower - Enjoying Lisbon in 2020

Since they are very consumers of fish and shellfish, another traditional fish is the sardine. There are also 1000 other ways to prepare sardines, but the most traditional one is grilled sardines.

The sweets also have to be tried. The most famous sweet is the belem cake ( pasteis de Belem). It is made with baked egg yolks and sugar, filled with custard.

Enjoing Lisbon through its tiles

Walking through the historic districts of Lisbon, you can see almost anywhere, the decorations with tiles. The tile is a typical decoration of Portugal, which enhances the house where they are displayed. And also to its owner. Some are more than 200 years old.

Tiles of Portugal

You can also buy some of them in the souvenir shops. But you have to be careful, since some of these old tiles could be subtracted from their original place without the owner's permission. The best thing to buy tiles is to do it in recognized stores in order to avoid being an accomplice of a crime. The sale of antique tiles is prohibited.

There are many Old Coffee Shops in Lisbon like La Brasileira. But none compare to The Majestic of the City of Porto. You should visit it when you go to that city

Lisbon Tiles
Lisbon Tiles

You can visit the National Tile Museum, between the neighborhood of Alfama and Parque de las Naciones, which houses a charming collection from the 15th century to the present. This museum is the best and most complete of its kind. It contains more than 7000 pieces, of Arab style, Portuguese and other places in Europe.


The murals stand out, with period scenes, a 23-meter panel showing what Lisbon was like before the 1755 earthquake. The museum is located on Rua da Madre de Deus 4.

It is also worthwhile after the museum to move to one of the viewpoints of the city that are close to the Alfama neighborhood. 


Lisbon Useful information

How to get there: From USA to Lisbon.

New York - Lisbon

  •  Air France: 7 h  Direct 
  •  KLM: 7 h  Direct 
  •  Delta: 7 h  Direct 
  •  Tap Air Portugal: 6 h 55 m Direct 
  •  United: 6 h 50 m Direct 
  •  Lufthansa: 6 h 50 m Direct 
  •  Brussels Airlines: 6 h 50 m Direct 

How to move by Trams

The city has a network of metro, trams and buses. The best option is the metro and the one that has the best frequency is the metro. The tram network is ideal for making circuits around the city. If the ticket is taken on board it costs 2.90?; if you take out the 7 hills card, it costs $1.45 the trip.

Lisbon Tram Car - enjoying lisbon in 2020
Lisbon Tram Car #28 Line - enjoying lisbon in 2020


There are 5 routes: the tram 28, which is old, made of wood, leaves from the Castillo San Jorge and travels along 10 Miles the neighborhoods that must be seen: Graça, Mouraria, Alfama, Baixa, Chiado, and Barrio Alto . The other tourist tanvia is the 15 that goes from the Plaza del Comercio to the neighborhood of Belem.
Consult  Lines & Schedules Official Site Here Carris.pt

Where to eat:

Eating out in Lisbon is cheap collated to the rest of Europe, or cities like Madrid or Paris  . Check in the hotel where you are staying, which restaurant recommends you, as there are thousands. Literally. Anyway, we recommend the cod fritters at Casa Portuguesa do Pastel in Bacalhau (Rua Augusta, 106) pasteis de bacalhau .Very important: bring cash. In most restaurants, they do not usually accept credit cards.

TimeOut Market Lisbon Portugal - enjoying lisbon in 2020
TimeOut Market Lisbon Portugal - Enjoying lisbon in 2020

Enjoying lisbon in 2020: We also recommend belem cakes in the neighborhood of Belem. pasteis de belem

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