Many say Lisbon is a city built on “seven hills:” Hill of São Jorge (the highest hill and the first inhabited place in Lisbon); Hill of São Vicente; Hill of Santa Ana; Hill of St. Andrew; Hill of Chagas; Hill of Santa Catarina; Hill of São Roque.

snake queen

There is a fun and interesting legend about how those seven hills were formed…

The story begins with the voyages of Ulysses, a Greek adventurer. During his sea travels, he and his crew visited the lands that are now Portugal. They were struck with the beauty of the Tagus River, so they stopped to rest and collect groceries. Ulysses named this location “Olisippo.”

Ancient Greeks believed that this land was inhabited by snakes, and ruled by beautiful and charming Queen Offiusa. The Queen had a huge snake tail instead of legs. The queen fell madly in love with Ulysses and in an attempt to keep him to herself, offered him the position of King in her kingdom.

Ulysses pretended to accept the proposal, fearing that his life could be at risk if he refused. But all the while, behind the back of the Queen Offiusa, he was filling his boat with supplies. Ulysses and his crew fled during the night, while the Queen slept.

Legend has it that, after waking and finding Ulysses gone, Queen Offiusa, got very angry and ran to Tagus River to chase Ulysses. She ran so hard, and her tail hit the ground so hard, that the land of the Seven Hills rose up and still remain today.

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