We were headed to one of the oldest countries with a crucial history of discovery and explorations. Portugal is known for its traditional village life, beaches, delicious seafood and the famous personalities Vasco da Gama and Cristiano Ronaldo. Lisbon, the capital is a coastal city with steep snug streets and stairways connecting most parts of the old districts.
Praca do Comercio or Terreiro do Paço
We started our sightseeing with a dark, rich espresso from an old boat turned outdoor cafe overlooking the Tagus river opposite to the majestic square of Praca do Comercio.
The square is also known as Terreiro do Paço which translates to Palace Square in English referring to the Palace that was the main residence of the Kings of Portugal in Lisbon for around 250 years until it was destroyed by the 1755 earthquake.
Rua Augusta Arch
The Rua Augusta Arch is historical building with triumphal arch located to the north of Praca do Comercio square. The terrace of the building is accessible by an elevator and rewards with a breathtaking view of the Praca do Comercio and its neighborhood, the Sao Jorge Castle, and the river Tagus. The arch is picturized in the movie Gulliver’s Travels where the Lilliputians wheel Gulliver through the arch at the end.
Santa Justa Lift
We entered through the triumphal arch into a busy pedestrian street lined with outdoor cafes and branded shops. We moved onto a parallel street Rua de Santa Justa where stands the remarkable structure Santa Justa Lift. The lift connects the lower streets of the Baixa and the higher Bairro Alto. 105-foot ride to the top is recommended for some awe-inspiring rooftop panoramic view of the Lisbon city.
After around half a km stroll, we walked into the heart of the city the Rossio Square. The square is popular for several outdoor cafes where people sit and relax over a coffee. On either side of the square are two gorgeous baroque fountains, and in the center is a monument with a statue of Dom Pedro IV.
We boarded the hop on hop off bus to our next stop the Campo Pequeno, the bullring of Lisbon that accommodates up to 10,000 spectators. In the present day, the bull-ring is a multi-event venue where various events, band performances, and live acts hosted apart from the bullfighting. Bullfights season last from Easter until late summer.
We were by now hungry and were looking around for good restaurants. We by fluke found an Indian cuisine restaurant ‘Amigos da Montanha Nepal’ in a street opposite to the bullring. We had scrumptious lunch with north Indian and tandoori dishes on the menu. We were overwhelmed by a euphoric sense of satisfaction after having the Indian food that we had been missing for last almost 11 months.
Marques do Pombal
Back to the downtown of Lisbon also the start point of Hop on Hop off buses we visited the Marques do Pombal a large roundabout and a monument around a km walk from the Rossio. This is the monument with a statue of Marquis of Pombal, the prime minister responsible for the rebuilding of Lisbon following the Great Earthquake in 1755, showing him standing on a column with his hand on a lion.
Parque Eduardo VII
Right behind the Marques do Pombal is the Parque Eduardo VII, a public park that stretches uphill from Marques de Pombal. At the top of the hill, on a small esplanade is a monument with four large pillars and a fountain in the shape of a rock that commemorates the 1974 Revolution. Monument has a beautiful view of the streets, square and the river Tagus in the distance.
For a Shopping spree, one can visit the El Corte Ingles biggest department store group in Europe just half a km from here. It was by now near dusk and we decided to return to our apartment.
The best way to experience the well-preserved bygone charm and cultural heritage of Lisbon is exploring the old district of Alfama and the Tagus riverfront. While Alfama offers a laid-back experience away from the hustle and bustle of city life, the Belem region has numerous monuments to experience the history of Lisbon. From exuberant nightlife and Fado houses of Bairro Alto to the elegant squares, streets of Baixa or downtown Lisbon – Lisbon has it all to allure the tourists.
What places have you visited in Lisbon? Which are your favorite ones?