Lisbon, the city of the seven hills is also known as the white city thanks to its light which it spreads out in several directions.
The light, the ambience and the climate allow for wonderful strolls through the various city quarters. It is a beauty that goes beyond monuments, a beauty that is lived in the streets embraced by its architectural diversity.
To walk through Lisbon is to have the pleasure of being astounded by the thousands of years of history, enriched with monuments and characterized by its genuine neighbourhoods that to this day maintain its Lisboan traditions. Playing an important part in the everyday life of Lisbon, these neighbourhoods offer, to all that are willing, a unique and personal experience. After the long walks through the typically Portuguese cobble stone roads, let yourself be embraced by our varied cuisine and our fine wines, relaxing to the sound of our excellent Fado.
Bairro Alto is one of the most paradigmatic and attractive neighbourhoods to live the life of Lisboa. A typical and popular neighbourhood, Bairro Alto has lots of modern highlights with fashion stores, designer shops and bars. The meeting point for people in an eclectic and multicultural environment; it is one of the many good reasons why one should visit this neighbourhood. Good restaurants sided with bookshops where there is always something on-the-go; tea houses mixed crafts stores offering the work of some of best renowned Portuguese artists. This is a breathtaking neighbourhood filled with events combining boldness and sophistication with tradition and history. To walk along the Bairro Alto is a one of a kind experience that you will not be able to feel in any other area of Lisbon.
Following Bairro Alto start descending along Chiado where you will find a slightly more sophisticated environment. Meeting point for the younger generation, artists and intellectuals, Chiado is an area of famous coffee shops, such as “A Brasileira”, of art schools, theatres and living history. Apart from its natural beauty, it is its people that contribute to it, with their activity and positive attitude.
The Carmo area, next to Chiado, has some fascinating marks of the Lisbon history, such as the Carmo Monastery and Church, which maintains its elegance and magnificence. Here you may visit the ruins but also the Carmo Archaeological Museum that has some pre-historic, roman, medieval, Manuelino (Portuguese typical architecture from the King Dom Manuel 1st), renascence and baroque pieces/artefacts. The Largo do Carmo is also an important place of national history as it was centre stage to the democratic Revolution of the Carnations that took place on 25th April 1974.
ELEVADOR DE SANTA JUSTA, BAIXA E ROSSIO
The connection between Carmo and Baixa is made through another essential monument in Lisbon, the fabulous Elevador de Santa Justa. At the top you may enjoy an amazing view over the Baixa [Downtown Lisbon]. Do not miss-out on the opportunity of going up or down the centennial elevator, the only vertical elevator still running as part of a public transportation system. The elevator was designed by a student of Gustave Eiffel and for this has its unique architectonic genre. Already in Baixa, by tradition the city business centre, you will find a large number of stores and a most wonderful area to stroll through. A personal approach makes shopping even more pleasant. The Rua Augusta is Baixa’s main street and connects the Terreiro do Paço (or Praça do Comercio) open to the river and a symbol of power, to the beautiful Praça do Rossio (D. Pedro IV).
Further up from Rossio take a moment to explore the Avenida da Liberdade. An avenue that was once the “City Promenade”, back in the 19th century, where the elite used to gather together for a stroll . In today’s Avenida da Liberdade we find the major high-street shops where most of the cosmopolitan and international shoppers in Lisboa go to.
CASTELO DE SÃO JORGE
The Castelo de São Jorge citadel is a fascinating place to contemplate the long history of Lisboa. This is one of the most visited monuments in the city not only because of its historical and cultural significance but also because of its amazing view over Lisbon.
Very close to the castle, at Graça, we find the church and monastery of S. Vicente de Fora – one of the most remarkable religious monuments of the city. Built just after the city being conquered from Moorish hands, it was a promise made by the King D. Afonso Henriques to S. Vicente during the city siege in 1143.
In this part of the city you may visit one of the most emblematic Lisbon markets, the Feira da Ladra (Flea market, literally “thief’s market”) where you may sometimes find precious antiques.
It was from its shore that the Vasco da Gama vessels went out to sea to discover the nautical route to India and everywhere you may feel the greatness of the long gone Empire.
Being one of the ex-libris of the city, the Jerónimos Monastery is frequently known as the “jewel” of the Manuelino style. This style gathers architectural elements from the Gothic and Renascence periods adding real and natural symbols that make it truly unique.
In 1496 the King D. Manuel I asked the Holy Church for permission to build a big monastery at the doors of Lisbon near the shores of the river Tagus. The works began in 1501 and only ended almost a century later. D. Manuel and his descendants were buried in marble tombs in the main chapel of the church and lateral chapels of the transept.
Also in Belém by the river you may find another exquisite Manuelino monument classified by the UNESCO as World Heritage, the Tower of Belém. Designed in the 16th century by Francisco Arruda the Tower of Belém consists of a rectangular tower and an irregular, hexagonal bastion, with elongated flanks, that projects south into the river Tagus. On the outside we may see the influence of Arabic and Venetian architecture in the arched windows and balconies contrasting with a sterner inner decoration.. The Manuelino style elements have a great presence here, the Tower of Belém being the first to hold the sculptural representation of an African animal, in this case a rhinoceros.
More recently but still evoking the Age of Discoveries we have in Belém the Monument to the Discoveries [Padrão dos Descobrimentos]. This 1960’s monument celebrates the fifth centenary of the death of the King Infante D. Henrique [aka the Navigator]. Homage to D.Henrique, the driving force behind the Discoveries but also to all other major Portuguese navigators. Belém is without a doubt the symbol of the “golden age” of the Discoveries Era.
However modernism and culture are also present in Belem at the CCB – Centro Cultural de Belém. For strolling through the vast gardens, to admire the river or to simply sit down and relax while indulging in a delicious pastel de nata [aka as Pastel de Belem], this is the place to be.
AND FINALLY ENDING AT PARQUE DAS NAÇÕES [NATIONS PARK]
In the eastern part of Lisbon where the World Exhibit, Expo 98 took place, we find a large cultural, recreational, residential and business complex, which is a major part of the city life and an example of modernity. Besides the many gardens along the river you will also find unique structures such as the Pavilhão Atlântico, where one can attend an infinite number of music concerts and important international sporting events. From 2006 the Parque das Nações also has the Lisbon Casino, a venue not to be missed. Additionally not to be missed is the Lisbon Aquarium [Oceanário], which delights not only the young but also the older ones due to its diversity of marine wildlife. The Pavillion of Knowledge [Pavilhão do Conhecimento] and the Vasco da Gama Tower [Torre Vasco da Gama] are another two features of this unique space. And finally the cable car ride, where one may enjoy the fantastic views of the park, making it nothing short of a mandatory trip.