LISBOA | Portugal | The city of the conquerors

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Lisboa_Ponte and Belem

Lisboa | Maybe the most beautiful city in the world...

Lisboa (engl. Lisbon) is the capital of Portugal and the south border lies to the river Tejo and the Atlantic Ocean. The port is located in the almost 4 km wide estuary area of the Tejo. There are two bridges over the Tejo: the “Ponte 25 de Abril”, the famous red suspension bridge and the “Ponte Vasco da Gama”, which, with a length of more than 17 km, connects Lisboa with the motorway to the south. The city of Lisboa extends over seven hills like Rome or Jerusalem.

The most severe earthquake ever recorded in Europe occurred in 1755 in Lisboa. A magnitude of 8.5 to 9 on the Richter scale has been assumed. This earthquake, the subsequent fire and a tsunami almost completely destroyed Lisboa and its effects are still partially apparent today.

Alfama & Castelo

The “Castelo São Jorge” is located on one of the eastern hills of the city. The view from the castle on the “Baixa”, the “Chiado”, the “Bairro Alto” and the “Ponte 25 de Abril” is stunning and a must see for every visitor.

The Castelo was built in 137 BC by the Romans. In the 5th century, the Visigoths conquered Lisboa and later on between the 8th to the 12th Century the Moors occupied the city. During these times, additional fortifications were added, some of which can still be admired today. After visiting the Castelo, it is a good idea to take the way back towards the Tejo through the “Alfama”, which is the oldest part of Lisboa and unfortunately the poorest. The small streets do have a charming arabic style and luckily nothing was destroyed in this part during the earthquake of 1755.

Sadly, the houses are very often decayed on closer inspection, have no sanitary facilities and are mouldy inside. Nevertheless, a walk through the narrow lanes is worthwhile, followed by a coffee break in one of the traditional cafés. Try the Bica, the Portuguese version of an espresso!

Baixa & Santana

The “Baixa” is the city centre with the pedestrian zone and shopping possibilities, which lies between the river banks of the Tejo and the “Praça de Rossio”. The best way to start your walk through the “Baixa” is the “Praça do Comércio”, which is close to the Tejo, and stroll up the pedestrian zone in the direction of “Praça de Rossio”.

Elevador de Santa Justa

On the way from the Tejo to the “Praça de Rossio”, the “Elevador de Santa Justa” lays in a side street on your left visible from the pedestrian zone. It was built in 1902 by Gustave Eiffel’s pupil Raoul Mesnier de Ponsard, who also designed the other funicular railways of Lisboa. Gustave Eiffel was the builder of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Therefore, in some places, the similarities with the Eiffel Tower: iron was the building material of the time around 1900, it symbolized progress and allowed skilful ornamentation in the construction.

In its first years, the passenger elevator was still driven by steam engines, as the electric drive came a little later. Until 2006, extensive construction work was carried out on the upper bridge, which had to be closed for several years. Today you can reach the “Chiado” and “Bairro Alto” via this footbridge. For your information: the lift can be used with a Lisboa day ticket.

From the upper platform of the “Elevador de Santa Justa” you have a wonderful view over the “Baixa” and the Castelo with the “Alfama”. A few years ago there was a small bar, which invited to stay. At the moment and until further notice the bar is closed. 

Espinheira

From here you can continue along the footbridge into the “Chiado” or you can go back to the “Baixa” in the direction of “Praça de Rossio”.  Look for the National Theater on the “Praça de Rossio” and take the street on its right side “Largo São Domingos” to get to “Praça São Dominogo”. Do not miss the tasting of the Espinheira! It is a traditionally produced cherry liqueur with whole cherries in the bottle. Simply delicious! The tasting is in “A Ginjinha” which is located in an old, vaulted cellar on the “Praça de São Domingo”. Have a close look to the wonderful traditional Portuguese tiles on the wall and the ceiling. Cheers!

Chiado

which is adjacent to the “Baixa” and offers various shopping facilities in both new modern or old traditional buildings. A major fire in 1855 destroyed almost completely the “Chiado”.

In the heart of the “Chiado”, people also like to meet for a “Bica” in the legendary “Café A Brasileira”, which dates back to the Belle Epoque. The “Bica”, the Portuguese espresso, was created in the “Café A Brasileira”. “BICA” comes from “Beba Isto Com Açúcar”, which means “drink it with sugar”.  In the beginning the guests didn’t like the bitter taste of the espresso and started ordering always with sugar and so a new espresso was introduced in Lisboa: the Bica – Espresso with sugar! 🙂

A bit further on in the direction of the Tejo you reach the “Miradouro de Santa Catarina”, where you meet many students and intellectuals from all over the world.  A small bar in the shade of the trees invites you for a cold Sagres oder Superbock. Cheers!

Bairro Alto

the old town, which is the opposite of the “Chiado”. During the day it is very quiet in the small and narrow alleys, but as soon as the sun sets, small bars and clubs open their doors at every corner, every cellar or even in a garage. The bar counter is often an old commode and the music is coming from a rattling ghetto blaster. But exactly this simplicity makes it unique. The Bairro Alto is the heart of Lisboa’s nightlife. Don’t miss it!

Belém

is located directly on the banks of the Tejo. The traditional port of Lisboa, called “Restelo”, was located here, from where many famous Portuguese explorers such as Vasco da Gama set sail to conquer the world. The “Torre de Belem” is one of Lisboa’s landmarks and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It welcomes seafarers to the port of Lisboa.

Next to the Torre you will find the “Padrão dos Descombrimentos”. This monument was built on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the death from Infante D. Henrique and is intended to commemorate the era of Portuguese discoveries. Not far from the “Padrão dos Descombrimentos” you will find the “Mosterio dos Jeronimos” another UNESCO World Heritage Site adjacent to the park “Placa do Imperio”.

Until 1834 the monastery housed the Hieronymites, the Order of S. Jerónimo, who gave the monastery its name. The building survived the earthquake of 1755 without major damage. But in the early 19th century it was devastated by the troops of Napoléon Bonaparte.

Don’t miss to visit the nearby Café “Pasteis de Belém” to eat an original traditional portuguese “Pastéis de Nata”. These are the best “Pastéis de Nata” in the world and you’ll dream of this sweet seduction the rest of your life. I’ll promise! Don’t miss them! By the way: the recipe is top secret and only three cake shops in Lisboa know it.

Tejo, Docks & Almada

On “The Docks” there are different kinds of restaurants, bars and clubs. It’s a much more touristic area as the “Bairro Alto”. “The Docks” are located almost under the “Ponte 25 de Abril”.

The “Ponte 25 de Abril” is a 3.2 km long suspension bridge over the mouth of the Tejo. It is the world’s third longest suspension bridge with combined road and rail traffic and it connects the Lisboa district Alcântara with the city of Almada.  Almada is well-known because of the famous statue of “Cristo Rei”, which is a statue of Christ, facing the Ponte and Lisboa. The “Cristo Rei” reminds of the much larger statue of  “Cristo Redentor” in Rio Janeiro. The statue is the best viewpoint towards the city of Lisboa and is also one of the most important pilgrimage places in Portugal besides Fatima and Tomar.

Camp site & Wild Camping

For all the 4×4 Offroaders, I suggest you to look on the atlantic coastline near Estoril and Cascais for your overnight stay. There are several campsites and as well possibilities for wild camping. Please follow the wild camping rules here! From Estoril or Cascais you can take a taxi or the public transportation to go to the city centre. I suggest you leave your car on a safe parking or the camp site outside Lisboa.

Tips

  • it’s your first visit to Lisboa – reserve at least 3 days!
  • use public transportations or taxi
  • take a long-sleeved shirt or a coat with you in the evening
  • don’t forget your sun glasses
  • camera is a must!

Lisboa is my favorite city and always worth a visit. I hope it was fun to read the article. I would be glad to hear from you after your visit. Have a nice trip and a lot of fun!

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Lisboa

Betty’s movie and book recommendation for Lisboa

Wonderful passionate story about a man taking the train to Lisboa.

A film with breathtaking shots of Lisboa and its surroundings.

And the book as bedtime reading

Cork Handbags and more

Cork is a natural product and is obtained from the cork oak native to Portugal. The properties of cork are manifold: water-repellent, insulating and hyperallergenic. Corkor is specialized in eco-friendly products made from cork. The company is located close to Lisboa in Barreiro.

Betty’s recommended guide book for Lisboa

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