In 1755, an earthquake devastated Lisbon. The Marques of Pombal, the minister of King Jose I, rebuilt the city, laying down wide carriageways, great plazas and rows of sturdy and elegant housing. Much of it is peeling, dusty, even tattered now, but Lisbon has retained the bustle, the character and the architecture of the old Pombal era downtown in a way that has eluded many wealthier European and American cities.
[Ribeiro Telles], a landscape architect and member of the Popular Monarchist Party who ran with the support of both the Socialists and the environmentalists, surprised himself and much of Lisbon by winning a City Council seat last December, on a platform of preserving Old Lisbon and solving its problems.
The wealth of the past has left great art in Lisbon, and it would be pleasant to say that the poor of Lisbon take advantage of it. The Museum of Ancient Art, for example, displays a noted 15th-Century triptych by Hieronymous Bosch, "The Temptations of St. Anthony." A visitor stopping at the museum to see this great painting usually finds no one else in the room.