My favourite place: Roger Crowley

In the September 2015 issue of BBC History Magazine, Roger Crowley selects Lisbon in Portugal as his favourite historical destination. HistoryExtra caught up with him to find out more...

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Q: When did you last travel to Lisbon and why were you there?

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My last visit to Lisbon was in 2013, before that 2012 – both times to research Portugal’s history. I’ll be going again next year – but work and enjoyment are combined for me when visiting.

Q: Why do you love the location?

I’m fascinated by its maritime history that launched our globalized world. I also love wandering Lisbon’s back lanes, particularly around the Castle of St George and in the Moorish district of Alfama – and the Portuguese are such genial people.

Q: What top 3 sights would you recommend people visit while they are there, and why?

The Castle of St George: You can stand up here and think that Lisbon was directly linked to India by a 24,000 mile return sea voyage. The exotic Jeronimos Monastery: a gothic building overlayed with extraordinary decoration that seems almost oriental. Plus, a ride on one of the trams that clang through the city. Tram 28 is the classic route – but watch out for pickpockets.

Q: During what period of its history would you most wanted to have visited Plovdiv and why?

The 16th century when Lisbon was the centre of the spice trade; the Tejo crammed with ships unloading the produce of the world; a hubbub of languages and peoples and ideas; the king riding through the streets proceeded by a cavalcade of elephants and panthers – a mind-boggling place!

Q: Where else in the world would you most like to visit and why?

North Western Greece. I’ve never been to Epirus, the region near the Albanian border. Mainly to walk in the remote Pindus mountains and the spectacular gorges; also to see out of the way classical sights such as Dodona and the Byzantine/Ottoman town of Ioannina.

Next month, Mark Stoyle visits Brittany in France. Share your tips for would-be travellers on Twitter (@HistoryExtra) or Facebook (www.facebook.com/HistoryExtra)

Roger Crowley is a writer and historian. His new book, Conquerors: How Portugal Seized the Indian Ocean and Forged the First Global Empire, is published in September.

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You can read Roger’s feature on Lisbon in the September 2015 issue of BBC History Magazine – on sale from 13 August