Travel Guide To Lisbon, Portugal cover

Travel Guide To Lisbon, Portugal

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Lisbon is the capital and the largest city of Portugal, but it's much more than that. The oldest city in Western Europe by centuries, it has a rich history well worth exploring. Here we'll take a look at some of the top sights and museums that you won't want to miss!





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Travel Guide To Lisbon, Portugal

Oldest Surviving Area

Many don’t know, but most of Lisbon was destroyed during the earthquake of 1755. Thousands of people lost their lives and much of the Moorish, or Islamic influence in style and architecture was lost as well.

Many people think it was due to the size and magnitude of the quake, but others believe the near immediate tsunami and fire that followed the same day were responsible. Today, the oldest district to survive the Lisbon Earthquake is the area of Alfama. Still highly prevalent there is the culture of the Moors.

City View

City View

Image by Alvesgaspar

(CC BY-SA 3.0 US)

Alfama

Inhabited by the fishermen and the poor during the reign of the Moors, these same conditions are common today.

Brimming with maze-like streets and steps and small communes, bustling with life, Alfama is alive with quaint restaurants and bars for tourists and locals. Many of the people who go to enjoy a cold drink or authentic Portuguese dishes are serenaded by singers of Fado – a traditional genre of music of Portugal that follows a particular structure and sound.

Views Of Alfama

Views Of Alfama

See For Yourself

Please note: if you click the video on this note, know that Rick Steves pronounces Alfama incorrectly.

Video

Castelo de São Jorge


Castle of St. George dates back to the 6th century during the time of the Romans and Visigoths. From here, the Moors took over until they were defeated by Afonso Henriques, Portugal’s first king.

The castle was christened St. George’s castle {after the patron saint of England), honoring the Anglo-Portuguese agreement from the 14th century. The castle acted as a royal palace until the construction of the Ribeiro Palace, today’s Praça do Comércio or popularly referred to as Terreiro do Paço. Ribeiro Palace was later destroyed in the quake of 1755.

Just past the main entrance you’ll find a statue of King Afonso Henriques followed by a series of cannons to remind us of the castle’s original function. Though most of the castle is gone, visitors can still see the architectural remnants of what once was through the walls and still-standing towers.

Castelo de São Jorge

Castelo de São Jorge

Arco da Rua Augusta


Arco da Rua Augusta, or in English, Arch of Augusta Street, is a six column larger-than-life arch in Terreiro do Paço.

It’s like seeing l’Arc de Triomphe connecting the two sides of le Champs Elysees. Okay...maybe it’s not that large, as I have a difficulty with size concepts, but it is massive. And during my stay, I used this monument as a reference point whenever I got lost – which was often.

This arch was built during the city’s reconstruction after the 1755 earthquake and now marks the beginning of Baixa. Adorned with statues of varying historical figures, it’s also decorated with the Portuguese coat of arms. Inside the arch, yes…you can enter inside, there is a steep, cramped spiral stairwell that takes you to the very top showcasing views of St. Georges Castle, Lisbon Cathedral, Ponte 25 de Abril, the Tagus River.

Arco da Rua Augusta

Arco da Rua Augusta

Museums

A great way to really get to know a city is by visiting their museums.

Known to house historical objects and culture, they're a great way to understand your surroundings, the way of life and sometimes even personal traits.

For instance, people of particular regions of a country can speak the native tongue in different manners due to the influence of bordering states. Certain architectural patterns can differ due to environmental occurrences that didn’t affect adjacent regions, and so on. One place to see, and temporarily re-live old Lisboa is at the Lisboa Story Centre.

Lisboa Story Centre

Located in the Terreiro do Paço, the interactive construction of the museum allows for a hands on, attention grabbing summary of Lisbon’s history.

As you walk through, the headset provided detects where you are, and what information correlate to the animation or object in front of you. Equipped with sound effects and fun facts, it’s perfect for all ages. My favorite part was the 1755 quake portrayal in the theatre. It demonstrates an account on what occurred, the damage done, and how life was changed forever.

Lisboa Story Centre

Lisboa Story Centre

MUDE – Design and Fashion Museum

Focusing more on the design and fashion aspect of art, MUDE delivers 20th century items exploring historical changes.

They identify their significance in cultural context by noticing key design trends and even showcase 21s century trend forecasts. At the time of my visit, they had just finished their Fado exhibition so they were only displaying their house pieces. An original beetle, and vintage pieces from Lacroix and Maison Lesage are among the designs you will see.

For those who are visiting Lisboa solely for the purpose of art, research which dates full shows will be on display. In the 3 story showplace, only one floor was available during my visit.

MUDE – Design and Fashion Museum

MUDE – Design and Fashion Museum

Monument to the Discoveries (Padrão dos Descobrimentos)

Monument to the Discoveries is a monument on the Tagus River estuary, in Belém.

Located where ships departed to explore and trade with India and the Orient, the memorial honors and celebrates the Portuguese Age of Discovery during the 15th and 16th centuries. Created by Portuguese architect José Ângelo Cottinelli Telmo, and sculptor Leopoldo de Almeida in 1939, Monument to the Discovers was to only be a temporary shrine at the Portuguese World Fair. In June 1943, the original structure was demolished and a permanent monument was built, completed in October 1960.

Each side is etched with famous men from the Age of Discovery including Afonso V of Portugal, Ferdinand Magellan, Bartolomeu Dias, Peter, Duke of Coimbra, and Henry the Navigator.

Padrão dos Descobrimentos

Padrão dos Descobrimentos

Mosteiro dos Jerónimos

Mosteiro dos Jerónimos is also located in Belém and can be seen clearly from the Monument of the Discovers and vice versa. One of the most recognized monuments of the Manueline-style architecture it was inducted into the UNESCO World Heritage Standing in 1938.

Originally inhabited by the Hieronymite religious order, the monastery was built by Prince Henry the Navigator. The early chapel, by the request of Santa Maria de Belém, was serviced by monks of the military-religious Order of Christ who assisted the area pilgrims.

Visitors are still able to visit the chapel and make prayers. Make sure to heed at where to enter and exit. I was scolded for going the wrong way.

Mosteiro dos Jerónimos

Mosteiro dos Jerónimos