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The city was ruled by an oligarchical council dominated by two families, the Julii and the Cassiae, although regional authority was administered by the Roman Governor of Emerita or directly by Emperor Tiberius.Among the majority of Latin speakers lived a large minority of Greek traders and slaves.Its position as the capital has formed through constitutional convention, making its position as de facto capital a part of the Constitution of Portugal. It has one of the warmest winters of any metropolis in Europe, with average temperatures 15 °C (59 °F) during the day and 8 °C (46 °F) at night from December to February.
Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in the world, and the oldest in Western Europe, predating other modern European capitals such as London, Paris and Rome by centuries.
Economically strong, Olissipo was known for its garum (a fish sauce highly prized by the elites of the empire and exported in amphorae to Rome), wine, salt and horse-breeding, while Roman culture permeated the hinterland.
The city was connected by a broad road to Western Hispania's two other large cities, Bracara Augusta in the province of Tarraconensis (Portuguese Braga), and Emerita Augusta, the capital of Lusitania.
Archaeological excavations made near the Castle of São Jorge (Castelo de São Jorge) and Lisbon Cathedral indicate a Phoenician presence at this location since 1200 BC, The Tagus settlement was an important centre of commercial trade with the inland tribes, providing an outlet for the valuable metals, salt and salted-fish they collected, and for the sale of the Lusitanian horses renowned in antiquity.
According to legend, the location was named for the mythical Ulysses, who founded the settlement after he left Troy to escape the Greek coalition.
In 1147, the Crusaders under Afonso Henriques reconquered the city and since then it has been a major political, economic and cultural centre of Portugal.