Monday, 26 November 2012

Lisbon | Over 20 Centuries of Magnificent History of Portugal.


 Lisbon is one of the most captivating cities of the World,a vibrant and spectacular European Capital with over 20 centuries of magnificent history of Portugal.

The Portuguese City is a sort of "Poesia Lusitana"a Portuguese poetry,for its charming narrations of historic events in which it was protagonist and much more for the stupendous and deep  inspirations it can transmit to every visitor.

You can find them strolling its streets and the squares in its historic centre,along the slopes of its marvellous hills and along the banks of the Tagus river.

All those the corners of the major Portuguese centre have something of magic and all is special because Lisbon is 100% special and unique in all its essence and soul,a city with a spirit and fashionable charm not many cities in the globe have.

 A further and great detail is also a historic award which make that marvellous site one of the oldest cities in the world with its over 20 centuries of age developing during all its historic stages something of great highlighting a country as Portugal which is a superb mine of treasures with an indisputable historic and cultural patrimony.

The position of Lisbon in (Portuguese Lisboa) on seven low picturesque hills beside the Tagus River once lured traders and settlers,and it is still a stunning site.

Legend has it that Ulysses the hero narrated by Homer founded that city and in the early years of its long and wonderful history it was a beloved settlement by Phoenicians,Greeks,Carthaginians,Romans and Moorish.
 
The Imperial Rome began its two centuries of reign in Lisbon in the 205 BC,when the Emperor Julius Caesar made it a Civitas and called Felicitas Julia,adding to the name Olisippo.It was a period in which the current Portuguese Capital lived its first flourishing golden ages with as a superb artistic and cultural centre of the entire Lusitania,admired and loved by everyone for all that was established within its former boundaries.
 
Later possession of some some Germanic tribes from the 5th century for a brief period after the fall of the Roman Empire,Lisbon suffered many invasions and in the 8th century,concretely in the year 714 the Moorish landed on the Iberian Peninsula also reaching the current Portuguese City.

Those new rulers made it an impenetrable stronghold and giving it a new urban asset with the development of fortified walls,roads which were further developed over the previous of Roman origin and establishing very busy activities linked to trade and commerce.

The Arabs resisted against Christian attacks for 400 years until the year 1147 when the Crusaders under the leadership of Alfonso Henriques reconquered the city which immediately became one of the most significant centres of the entire new Catholic Kingdom with several changes and new artistic movements which started to embellish a site which already had a notable architectonic and historic heritage.

The city for its increasing importance replaced Coimbra as Capital of the country in medieval times,it was the mid-13th century when Lisbon reached that unforgettable title consecrated to be leader of a country in continuous development.

Just two centuries later Lisbon had its great period,new golden ages came in the15th,century and  it was the point of departure for the famous Portuguese Discoveries.

It was an era in which Portugal enjoyed abundant wealth and prosperity through its newly discovered off shore colonies in the Atlantic islands,reaching Africa he Americas and Asia and establishing new routes of commerce and trade boasting a superb marine fleet as not many other countries at that time.

The iconic Vasco da Gama's famous discovery of the sea route to India marked that century and for a period Lisbon was the world's most prosperous trading centre which also became residence of many prominent artists called to give a splendorous aspect to a city which shown an immense fascination so rich in majestic palaces,beautiful Churches and imposing monuments.


Packed by many historical and monumental attractions present in a large area of the city which boasts one of the most shining diamonds of the European architecture consisting in a complex which includes the stupendous Mosteiro dos Jerónimos and Torre de Belém, both classified by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites, were built during that period.

In addition to all that its cultural diversity, laid-back feel and architectural time warp and you are in front of one one of the most enjoyable cities in the European Continent.

Thanks to its rich history and great power during the Age of Discoveries,Lisbon is so historically and artistically rich of cultural and religious sites.That Portuguese centre was also able in more recent times to develop an important and notable tourism offer.

Site of the Expo celebrated in the year 1998,focal point for its mild climate all year of Incentive Tours,Conventions and Congresses of International level.

In addition to the architectonic masterpieces Lisbon also has over 50 museums for every taste from the most captivating archaeological exhibitions to the most celebrated galleries devoted to contemporary art.

Lisbon is recognised as an alpha city because of its importance in finance,commerce, entertainment, arts, international trade,education and of course tourism.

The city also provides a vast choice of Hotels and accommodation of the most diversified categories and including an ample range of excellent restaurants offering the most delectable cuisine able to satisfy the most exigent palates.

Considered one of the major economic centres of the continent with a growing financial centre and the second largest container port in the "Europe's Atlantic coast. Enjoy Lisbon in all its splendour with its cafes, attractions,bars and restaurants,an exciting nightlife and those iconic over 20 centuries of magnificent history in this itinerary.

1ST DAY - PRAÇA DE ROSSIO - BAIXA DISTRICT -CASTELO DE SAO JORGE
PRAÇA RESTAUDORES - BAIRRO ALTO & CHIADO

You can start your Lisbon visit from Baixa (downtown Lisbon-Metro - Baixa-Chiado Station) heart of the Portuguese capital.That corner of the Portuguese Capital is very lively and vibrant packed by stylish cafes,clubs,venues and of course with a more than relevant historic heritage.

Firstly visit Praça de Rossio,the liveliest square in the city.A lot of people loves to stop there sitting and and enjoying relax in the several cafes-bars you can find in that animated square.The most important is definitely Café Nicola housed a captivating building and arranged in a captivating Art Decó style.

Founded in the year 1929 by the Italian Nicola Breteiro who fixed in Lisbon his residence,that inviting establishment was frequented by famous Portuguese personalities and it can be an idea to have a drink enjoying as a starter the stylish atmosphere of that place.

In the middle of the square you will notice a statue depicting Dom Pedro IV  one of the most distinctive and emblematic Portuguese Kings of the history.That monument honouring that iconic Monarch was erected in the year 1874, at its foot there are four female figures in marble representing Justice,Wisdom, Strength and Moderation and those qualities were attributed to Dom Pedro to himself.


On the other side of the square you can admire two splendid baroque fountains which are a magnificent artistic frame while on its northern side you can see a monumental neoclassical building ; Teatro Dona Maria II the National Theatre built in the year 1840 by the Italian architect Fortunato Lodi.,

That splendid building is highlighted by a marvellous facade characterised by perfect architectonic around its shape lines,majestic Neo-Classic columns and a scenic huge pediment dominating the upper section and  ornates by statues in which the protagonist is a that one of the famous playwright Gil Vicente.

Notable is the arrangement of the facade rich of elements consisting in large curved windows,a charming portico and elegant reliefs in perfect harmony with the light colour under a red roof.

Adjacent Rossio Square,you can walk until  Praça de Figueira,it is a very animated square and with a great view of St. George's Castle.

Close to the centre lies a bronze equestrian statue of King Joao I another beloved Portuguese Monarch beautiful and charming are all the buildings surrounding that lively square in a perfect urban set and  packed by cafes,bars,including the famous Pastelaria Suiça.

That old  famous Pastry House is very popular and it is typical to stop for tasting  and enjoying the famous Pasteis de Belem or Pasteis de Pata,very delectable local  cakes drinking  a Ginjinha a liquor made by cherry,a typical Lisboeta spirit.

Also that site is very popular because since the year 1922 started to be an iconic place frequented by a multitude of people becoming a trendy meeting point delighted by its excellent quality of service.

On the south side, you can see another one the charming old Confeitaria Nacional considered to be one of Europe's most elegant pastry shops older than the previous it was opened in 1829,and still today it offers you a wide range of excellent cakes.In the 19th century since its inception that establishment hosted aristocratic,artists becoming another site very popular.

Take a look to Rossio Railway station,very interesting, in typical Manuelino style,looking more like a theatre or an adorned palace than a station, that monumental building it is one of the strangest architectural complexes housing as rail terminal in all Europe but also considered one of the most attractive.

It was completed in the year 1890,despite it was started four years before,you will notice the scenic presence on its facade of arched doorways and windows on the ground and first floors while the third story has a line of charming rectangular windows and a highlight is the watch placed in a sort of turret in the upper centre of the front side.

That style is classified as Romantic Manuelino style,which take inspiration from the original architectonic movement born in the 16th century but adding new lines and architectonic elements less Baroque and more contemporary also in the curves of the portals and in the decorations.

Leading up from behind the National Theatre you can walk along Rua das Portas de Santo Antão a charming street and at number 58 you can see Casa do Alentejo a peculiar 17th century building,with a very attractive Moorish courtyard and a famous restaurant with the same name recommended to enjoy a lunch or a dinner if you come back in that Lisbon area.

Rua das Portas de Santo Antão which is  totally pedestrian is also the location of the classical Coliseu dos Recreios, the Lisbon Coliseum, opened in the year 1890 as a circus and today a venue hosting events and concerts.

Not so far from Praça de Rossio you will meet Santa Justa Elevator.Lisbon people call it Elevator do Carmo and it is an iconic symbol of the city.That great structure was built at the turn of the century by the Portugal-born French architect Raoul de Mesnier who was an apprentice of Gustave Eiffel.

All that in its shape,use of materials and concepts explains the similarities to Paris' Eiffel Tower and it was developed to connect downtown to Bairro Alto the lowest and highest points of the city.That structure is  45 metres high,the top was developed in Neo-Gothic style and reached via a spiral staircase.

Once on the top you can enjoy a Cafe with splendid views of Lisbon,over Praça Rossio,Castelo de Sao Jorge Castle,Tagus River and all the historical centre.

After a coffee or a snack take the Bus 37 or the the Tram 28 from Praça Rossio and visit the Castelo de Sao Jorge (St.George Castle).It is  another historical symbol and icon of the Portuguese Capital.

That fortress has a very long history dated 6th century it was an area already fortified by the Romans and later conquered by the Visigoths.The castle always was a strategic structure in terms of defence of the city Lisbon to protect itself against the Moorish  invasions.

When Lisbon became the Capital of the Kingdom in the year 1255, that fortress also became the Royal Palace and it was called Alcáçova.What remains of that former palace in which the Kings who reigned in  medieva times lived and it is a stoned building which currently hosts a restaurant.

During Muslim occupation it served as a Moorish Royal Residence until Portugal's first King Alfonso Henriques captured it in the year 1147 with the support of northern European crusaders.

It was from that event when it was dedicated to St. George, the Patron Saint of England commemorating the Anglo-Portuguese pact dated the year 1371.

Past the main gate of Castle of Sao Jorge you can see the statue of King Alfonso Henriquez and cannons which remind the visitors of the castle’s original function.

Do not miss inside the walls to admire the Torre de Ulisses the Tower of Ulysses,the city’s legendary founder has given his name to the former Torre do Tombo which now houses a giant periscope which allows you to enjoy a 360º panoramic view of the city in real time and also a brilliant multimedia exhibit about Lisbon’s history called Olissiponia.

In that very interesting place images are projected on a ten-foot wall with narration giving people an overview of the story behind the famous city they are in.

Declared as National Monument in 1910 the current Royal Palace is not the exact reproduction of what it was before and it is more of the result of the most important influences from the various ages which molded it and equally charming.

Coming back to Praça Rossio you can choose two excellent restaurants for your lunch both in Rua das Porta de Santo Antao,Gambrinus founded more than 70 years ago,the cuisine is typically Portuguese offering excellent, seafood, prawns,mussels Bacalhau (cod) and taste a cold Sagres beer.

Another one is Restaurant Casa de Alentejo (mentioned before) in which you can enjoy excellent pork and veal steaks of excellent quality and specialities of that restaurant and in which you can also find a good choice of fine wines.

After your lunch visit Praça de Restauradores, (Restauradores Square) another important square very close to Praça Rossio.In the centre of the square you will notice a patterned pavement and a Obelisk 30 metres high with two figures in bronze on the pedestal representing Victory and Freedom.

In that very busy square you can find the Hard Rock Café Lisboa and the Famous Cinema Eden which was transformed in a Hotel.It is a beautiful building in Art Deco style and it was also used as Russian Hotel in a movie by Wim Wenders a famed German film director)"Until the End of the World."

The most important historic monument of the square is Palacio Foz located on the west side,next to Cinema Eden built in  1700 it was former residence of the Marquis of Foz and actually housing the National Tourism Office.

The Palace has a very accentuated French aspect with similarities with the buildings you can see in the Parisian Place Des Vosges,including in its architectonic elements,with a long symmetric series of rectangular windows under a steep gray roof highlighted by other framed windows surmounted by lunettes.
 
You can visit the Palace only with special permission,the interior is also a French inspiration of Versailles Palace and the rooms are in a pure Renaissance Style transmitting the charm of Belle Epoque Parisienne.

Have a walk along Avenida de Libertade (Liberty Avenue) it is the main avenue of Lisbon and with a notable character,for long time that boulevard developed in the 19th century has represented a sort of triumphal hallway in the core of the city.

The inspiration and during a walk along it you will note that is by the iconic Champs-Elysees of Paris for urban location and including development on its sides with walkways and lines of trees.

It is a very busy avenue and centre of Lisbon business in which you can find Banks,Hotels,holdings,designer shops,including,Dolce & Gabbana, Louis Vuitton,Gucci,Calvin Klein, Burberry,Prada,Christian Dior among others many others.

Avenida de Libertade is also inserted in metropolitan rankings and statistics at international level and it is  actually considered the 35th most expensive avenue of the the world.

It  is 1100 metres long and 90 metres wide,there is a pedestrian sidewalk paved with typical Portuguese pavement, that avenue was originally a public park with Praça de Restaudores,and its name was Passeio Publico (Public Walkway) and before its construction that place was pretty frequented by families to spend pleasant times.

The idea of that boulevard came because Lisbon since that time had not a long and main axis in its boundaries linking some of the most important squares and strategic urban points,obviously that was the most important reason if its development linking in that way Praça de Restauradores to Praça Marques de Pombal another important Lisbon Square situated  about 1,5 kilometres away.

Once established that avenue also Lisbon as every important European capital had its emblematic central boulevard which is today one of the most important metropolitan arteries.

After a walk along that avenue also ideal for shopping come back to Praça de Restaudores and  take Elevador da Gloria, a funicular which links Lisbon  downtown to the Bairro Alto the high district.

Once you will reach Bairro Alto coming into Jardim Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara a great viewpoint on the town developed in a charming garden you can start to have an idea of what is Lisbon saw from another perspective on one of its hills.

Bairro Alto is a picturesque district of Lisbon dating back the 16th century,it has traditionally been the city's bohemian district,loved by writers,painters,artists it always represented the artistic spirit of the old Lisboa and for many also a source of inspiration.

That neighbourhood is definitely part of that magnificent history of a city and of Portugal because since its establishment created around it a magic atmosphere a little bit without comparisons as Montmartre in Paris.
 
Bairro Alto is also famous for its Casas de Fado in which you can assist to a Fado Show,(although the soul of Fado is in Alfama district) it is a neighbourhood offering a very vibrant nightlife highlighted by charming and picturesque streets,boasting a classic and alternative culture,chic shopping and trendy restaurants  definitely one of the special places of Lisbon in all its pure essence.

After a look over the the town from the Miradouro Garden visit the Igreia de Sao Roque Church.That church is really very special because it is considered one of the Religious Temples of the city with the  richest interiors of the world.

Designed and projected  in Rome,it is a masterpiece of Baroque Art started in the year 1506 and totally ended in the year 1619.

Developed on a rectangular plan,the facade is pretty austere but with perfect lines with a central doorway and two on its sides with a series of rectangular windows in its upper section beneath a wide pediment containing a rosette.

The main highlights are in its interior,the Chapels were built with all the most expensive materials,such as gold, ivory, agate porphyry,in particular the 4th chapel,they present relevant works with detailed mosaics and others painted with scenes of the Apocalypse.

Some of those works were made by relevant artists as the Italians Nicola Salvi and Luigi Vanvitelli who in that periods were among the best in decorations of Chapels,altarpieces and arrangements of apses.

 Notable are also the elegant and stylish arcades the marvellous painted ceiling and the presence in strategic corners of chandeliers with a splendid altarpiece and an ample nave very luminous and showing a great perspective.

Adjoining the Church there is the Museum of Sacred Art, containing relevant 16th century Portuguese paintings and a very impressive collection of Baroque Silver items.

Walking to Chiado a section of Bairro Alto you can admire the Romantic Gothic ruins of Carmo Convent an Church which was devastated by the 1755 infamous and tragic  earthquake.You can visit inside the ruins a small archaeological museum containing the tomb of of King Ferdinand I and very interesting mosaics and ceramics.

A great attraction you can admire is São Carlos Theatre.It is Lisbon's Opera House.That superb building erected in Neoclassical Style  in 18th century replaced the old Opera in Praça Comercio which was destroyed in the Great Earthquake.

You will notice in front of that spectacular venue that the inspiration is typically Italian,the facade and all the exterior were inspired by Teatro La Scala of Milan while the interior is very similar to Teatro San Carlo in Naples.

Very relevant is the splendid symmetry of the three arcades forming a splendid portico with lantern,the balcony over the entrance is in perfect harmony with the large windows under the upper front side highlighted by a circular watch on the top surmounted by a coat of arms dominating the entire structure.

From there you are next Rua Garrett (Garrett street) elegant shopping street in which you can enjoy a coffee in Cafe A Brasileira at the civic number 120 of that same street.

 That place is one of the most famous Cafe in Lisbon and it was opened in the year 1905 and since its inception it was immediately frequented by high spheres linked to the artistic world of the Portuguese Capital.

The interior of ’A Brasileira’ is great decorated in Art Deco style with a green-and-gold entrance and mirrored walls.That cafe is famous to host several times that enigmatic and talented poet called Fernando Pessoa among his customers.Pessoa still has his table in bronze on the terrace in a work by sculptor Lagoa Henriques.

That place is something of iconic and considered another symbol of Lisbon for the artistic life linked to that character who conquered with his works several people so you can enjoy a coffee there delighted by a captivating atmosphere in the heart of the old Lisbon.

You can choose to have dinner in Bairro Alto and then living the vibrant nightlife there..Some suggests ? Restaurant Lisboa à Noite in Rua das Gáveas,69,is a place which offers excellent starters and delicious prawns,lobster rice,swordfish carpaccio,Bacalhau a Noite (salted cod a noite, speciality of the restaurant)

That restaurant is very elegant,not very cheap but ..quality.Another one is Cervejaria Trindade Restaurante located  in Rua Nova da Trindade, 20.

That establishment is hosted in a historic building which was once a convent then transformed in one of the first breweries in Portugal.Surrounded by tiled walls tiled with Portuguese scenes,traditional specialities are Amêijoas (clams) and giant prawns.You can also order tastefully steaks and heaps of crisp french-fried potatoes if you prefer meat. Enjoy your night in Lisbon in Bairro Alto.


2ND DAY -RUA AUGUSTA - PRAÇA DO COMERCIO - BELÈM DISTRICT
PARQUE EDUARDO VII - MARQUES DE POMBAL

After your breakfast start your day taking the tube to the well kniwn Praça Rossio and from there take the pedestrian Rua Augusta,that street is paved by mosaic,it is a long avenue in which you can find
 shops, outdoors cafes,very lived and loved by locals and tourists for its animated atmosphere and highlighted on its sides by the presence of stylish palaces and some of them with mudejar tiles decorations and charming balconies.

The most important attraction is the Arco Triunfal da Rua Augusta,the Triumphal Arch with its scenic clock with stone reliefs unique in its kind.

That majestic arch usually called the Arco da Rua Augusta was designed by the architect Verissimo da Costa in the year 1755 and ended long time after in the year 1873.

Apart its imposing size which characterises the end section of the pedestrian avenue,the main highlights is its  clock and statues depicting Glory,Ingenuity and Valour by French sculptor Camels and those of  Viriatus,Nuno Álvares Pereira, Vasco da Gama and the Marquis of Pombal.

Those figures represented are the symbols of the golden ages of Portugal and Lisbon which were depicted next to those stunning qualities to exalt the wealthy Lisbon with his main historic protagonists close to those allegoric figures that since ancient times symbolised Gods,divinities and prosperity.
Another relevant detail is that arch is the door to another important and iconic Lisbon square : Praça do Comercio.Praça do Comercio (Trade Square) commonly known as Terreiro do Paço because it was the location of the Paços da Ribeira  the Royal Ribeira Palace until it was destroyed by the great 1755 Lisbon Earthquake.

That Square is located next to the Tagus River and it is another emblematic urban space of the Portuguese Capital for its historic value and also transformed in the course of its history as a favourite meeting point of locals enjoying its large 170 metres by 170 meters of surface.

Lisboa Welcome Centre city's main Tourism Office and in the centre of the square you can admire a monumental equestrian statue depicting King Jose I showing him on horseback measuring 14 meters and designed by the talented sculptor Machado de Castro.

Next to the square you can see the Lisbon Town Hall,an important building because it is the place in which the Republic was proclaimed on 5th October 1910. The facade in neoclassic style has a triangular frontispiece with representations of the Freedom and Motherland Love, flanking the city`s coat of arms

In Praça do Comercio if you can enjoy a coffee,coming into the Cafe Martinho da Arcada.It is another historic establishment of the period of the Joie de vivre of the city and much more was one of the favourite of the poet Fernando Pessoa.

 That famed writer was an usual customer there he wrote some of his relevant works there between a coffee and another,that great artist usually spent a lot of time in Cafes as he made in Paris during his stays in the French Capital because the view of people in many places gave him more inspirations than staying concentrated alone at home and Cafe Martinho da Arcada in a so busy square was ideal for him.

That Cafe was also an usual place of other iconic artists such as Almeida Garrett who spent a lot of time there and also frequented by the unforgeettable Amalia Rodrigues who loved to sit there.It is a symbol of Lisbon so have a coffee there and enjoy that other historical local of the Portuguese Capital.

Take the Tram nº 15 to Belem.Belem  is the most historical and monumental Lisbon district.You will enjoy a lot visiting that Lisbon area because everything there is absolutely divine,unique and magnificent,a large part of the history is in that outstanding neighbourhood.


 Mosteiro dos Jerónimos,the Monastery of Jeronimos is the most impressive and famous building in that district and the UNESCO classified it as as World Heritage site.

The name of that superb and wonderful Religious building because the Monastery was populated by Monks of the Order of Saint Jerome.It was designed by the architect Diogo de Boitaca and built in the year 1502 during King Manuel I rule who wanted  to commemorate Vasco da Gama's successful return from India and it is also the place in which the famous navigator and his crew spent their last nights in Portugal before to start the long trips across the Oceans.

.It is said that Vasco Da Gama slept in a tent and prayed on the site of that majestic building before he left on his long travel in prayer before to reach India.Da Gama’s tomb is inside with other tombs of important Portuguese personalities such as the writer Fernando Pessoa, the poets Almeida Garrett, Luiz de Camoes among others.

The flamboyant style of that building is called Manuelino,an artistic movement born and bred in Portugal something which change the artistic history of Portugal  in art and architecture.

The concept of that style served to glorify the great discoveries of the age in Portugal,there was an inspiration by the pure Italian Baroque but the most relevant Portuguese masters developed in that unique style the exaltation of art,with sinuous curves and lines.

The decorations also had some inspirations from the Baroque and in architecture something was taken by the early Renaissance but pretty far in terms of executions.The mission was a a sort of glitzy signal to surprise the human eye and also transmitting something inside at the first sight.

In that style the decoration walked next to the architecture,no before but not after,as you know in Baroque architecture many buildings despite its perfect geometry and lines had in many cases sober and austere facades in the buildings very rare in the Manuelino style.
 
In that magnificent Monastery there is also anyway a combination of Gothic,the Manuelino style for some experts depending of the Master and his style can also be considered a late Gothic style,Plateresque and early Renaissance styles,you can consider it son of many but unique in its kind.

The Cloisters inside are simply beautiful with its symmetrical columns decorated with ornate sea motifs,perfect arches,there is an ample respect of the perspective and spaces,a notable intuition in the line of the arcades around the green space located in the middle and from the interior of the portico you can have a splendid view from another perspective before to enter in the outdoor space.

Next to the Monastery are located the Museu Nacional de Arqueologia the National Archaeological Museum and The Museu da Marinha the Maritime Museum.

Both very interesting,the first offers an ample collection displaying artifacts and items starting since the Roman civilisation dating back the foundation of the first former settlement.The second is an extensive chronological steep by step of the glorious history of the navigation of Portugal focused on its golden ages with the discoveries of the great Navigators.

If you are fond of modern and contemporary art approximately 150 metres from the Monastery you can visit Museu Berardo which is probably one of the most acclaimed art gallery in the World about modern art.

It consists in a rich collection containing works by Picasso, Wahrol, Dali, Magritte, Pollock among others.The most important masterpieces represented in that exhibition are undoubedtly Andy Warhol's Ten Foot Flowers and Portrait of Judy Garland and Picasso's Femme dans un fauteuil so if you are a fan of that kind of art that museum is definitely for you.

In front of the Mosterio dos Jeronimos,crossing the magnificent gardens of Praça Imperio higlighted by a scenic huge fountain you can admire  the majestic Monument to the Discoveries the Padrao dos Descobrimentos which is a new monument built in the year 1960 on the northern bank of the river Tagus commemorating the 500th anniversary of the death of Prince Henrique the Navigator.

When you approach to the monument you will come across a large world map on the pavement and a Compass rose with diameter of 50,0 metres and that is a present by South African Government in which you can see all the corners of the world in the respective cardinal points explored by the Portuguese navigators illustrating all the routes.

That imposing monument is 52 metres high erected using white stone and  it is formed by 33 statues representing prominent people related to the Portuguese discoveries the most important are the Prince Henrique,Vasco da Gama,Ferdinando Magellano and Queen Philippa of Lancaster.

Other figure which worth to be mentioned are the Caravel the iconic boat used during the navigation, naturally the coat of arms of Portugal and the sable of the Dynasty of Aviz.

That monument historically replaced a previous one erected in the year 1940 to celebrate in Lisbon the Exposicao di Mundo Portugues an universal exposition hosted in the Capital of Portugal and demolished 18 years later.

The concept to build a new one came from the former Dictator António de Oliveira Salazar who wanted to pay homage and tribute to the history of the Portuguese navigation in a sort of revival and exaltation of the golden ages and the magnificent history of Portugal.

That monument established in the Capital had to be visible everyone in a sort of message to remember the grandeur of the country with a touch of patriotic pride.

Inside the monument, there is an exhibition in which you can watch a film about Lisbon and an elevator will take you to the top for beautiful views of Belem other monuments and a stupendous panoramic of the Tagus River.

Walking for approximately 800 metres you can admire another masterpiece of art in Belém : Belém Tower.

Also that majestic and marvellous monument is absolutely an icon and symbol of Lisbon.Built in the year 1515 on a basalt island close to the right bank of the Tagus,it was originally a fortress to guard the entrance of Lisbon's harbour and a tribute to the Patron Saint of the city, Sao Vicente

That tower also represents the starting point of many of the discovery trips,a very iconic point in which the vessels left the Portuguese Capital beneath that kind of icon which UNESCO has listed it as a World Heritage monument site.

The monument was developed in Manuelino style but there is also a Moorish influence in the watchtowers arranged by the architect and military Francisco de Arruda who has built the tower.

That artist worked long time in North Africa and in particular in Morocco and from there that link with the Maghreb architecture.

The arched windows are in typical Venetian style,that was another De Arruda inspiration taking Venice as example famous city linked to the great Navigator Marco Polo and the glorious Marine Republic of St,Mark which dominated for centuries several International routes and also  linked as Lisbon about great navigators

The statue of Our Lady of Safe Homecoming, is a symbol of protection for sailors during their long trips and it is a theme which link the Religion to history.

Next to Belém Tower you can find a restaurants, the Restaurant Vela Latina for your lunch.It  offers Portuguese cuisine good fish, lamb steaks and hake with rice.

After your lunch, come back to Mosterio de Jeronimos you can reach the Jardim do Ultramar also called Jardim Tropical (Tropical Garden). created in the year 1906,it is a splendid space with over 4000 species of tropical plants coming from Madeira,Canary Islands Brazil, Africa and Asia  and later visit Antigua Confitaria de Belem.

That famous coffee house was the first place outside the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos to sell the original creamy dessert after the monastery was closed in the year 1820 the famous Pasteis de Belem.

For those who don't know, Pasteis de Belem,they are delicious Portuguese egg custard tart pastries created before the 18th century by the Catholic Nuns based in the monastery and it is very typical Portuguese and "Lisboeta" 100% gastronomic product so you can enjoy that with a good cup of coffee.

 Walking about 200 metres across the Tropical Garden you will reach to Palacio de Belem (Belem Palace), built in the year 1559 which is the Official Residence of Portugal's president since 1910.

The building is very imposing,it is 172,0 metres long and 187,0 metres wide with charming decorations on a light violet facade with different gates,a large number of doors,rooms and halls.

Inside the Palace there is a museum, The Presidency Museum, it can be visited everyday except on Mondays.

That exhibition is suggested if you are interested to know more about the history of Portugal and it displays
a rich collection of the Portuguese Republic History containing, flags,coats of arms and a chronological history of the Portuguese Presidents in pictures and documentations.

In front of the Palace you can admire a statue of Alfonso de Albuquerque, the Viceroy of India standing atop of a Neo-Manuelino pedestal.

Very interesting to visit next to Palacio de Belem,the Museu Nacional dos Coches,the Coaches Museum hosted in charming building which was designed by the Italian architect Giacomo Azzolini and formerly it was the National Riding School and the museum was created in the 1905 by Queen Amélia.

It is a rich and beautiful collection of vehicles made for royalty century horse-drawn coaches,chaises, cabriolets and sedan chairs from 16th to 19th century and it is the world's largest collection in the world about that kind of vehicles.

You can admire in that spectacular exhibition beautiful carriages made in France,Italy, Spain, Austria, England and naturally Portugal.

Some of the most important used are one by Queen Elizabeth II of England, another by King Louis XIV of France one by King Philip II of Spain and other three monumental coaches made in Italy were made for a ceremonial visit to Pope Clemente XI by the Marquis de Fontes.

Take a look to Palacio de Ajuda (Ajuda Palace),it is one of the most extravagant but romantic Royal palaces in Europe.

Never completed due to the exile of the Royal Portuguese family in Brazil in occasion of the French invasion under Napoleon.

Inside you can see the halls which reflect the tastes of the 19th Century, you can admire a fantastic collection of Chinese porcelain displayed in the Music Room and all the crystal chandeliers and frescoes on the ceilings illuminating and decorating halls like the Throne Room which is the most important room of the palace.

Ajuda Palace also displays one of the few remaining intact Royal Dinner Services of porcelain manufactured in the 19th century.Another important detail is that Ajuda Palace decoration shows not only the particular taste of an historical period but also the history of Portugal.

After your visit in the magnificent Belem District come back to Praça de Comercio and take the tube to Marques de Pombal.

In that monumental square  you can enjoy a relaxing walk across Parque Eduardo VII the Lisbon's largest park and admiring that wide Marquês de Pombal Square with the monument to the Marquis of Pombal on a column who was the iconic Prime Minister responsible for the rebuilding of Lisbon following the Great Earthquake in 1755.

In that area you can enjoy a great dinner in Restaurant Eleven situated in Rua Marquês da Fronteira at the top of Parque Eduardo VII.

The interior is both intimate and bright with wonderful city views.There is a wide selection of typical plates with a touch of "Nouvelle Cuisine"such as Azorean tuna with sesame,Consommé with ginger and lobster,rice with prawn crunch and an excellent choice of selected fine wines.Enjoy your dinner and Lisbon at night.


3RD DAY - PARQUE DE NAÇOES -OCEANORIUM & VASCO DA GAMA BRIDGE
ALFAMA DISTRICT

After your breakfast,start a new day in Lisbon.Take the tube to Estacao de Oriente,railway Station.A different day of tourism, discovering the Eastern Lisbon in the area of Parque de Naçoes in which in the year 1998 was celebrated the EXPO the World Fair which took place in Portugal's capital between May and September.

The first thing you will admire is that Station.It is a stunning modern building designed by the famed Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava,a splendid work consisting in a glass and steel roof made to look like a row of trees.The architect used different materials to give a scenic image and also to surprise the visitor during the visit of such important event and that station houses,metro,bus and railway station.

The first attraction you can visit after that masterpiece of modern and contemporary architecture it is the Oceanorium Lisbon's.

Oceanarium is one of the world's largest aquariums containing a large number of marine species with more than 25,000 fish,seabirds and marine mammals and another space in which you can see different species of sharks.

That huge complex was designed by the famous American architect Peter Chermeyeff, a great specialist in that kind of constructions,he also designed Osaka Aquarium in Japan the largest in the world but many others like Tennessee Aquarium, National Aquarium in Baltimore,New England Boston Aquarium all in USA and Aquarium of Genoa in Italy and he also projected  another Aquarium in Alexandria in Egypt.

The main area consist in four tanks with different habitats with their native flora and fauna: such as the North Atlantic rocky coast, the Antarctic coast, the Pacific kelp forests and the Tropical Indian coral reefs.

Those large tanks are separated from the central only by large sheets of acrylic to provide the illusion of a single tank,you can admire there,sharks, tunas,sunfishes barracudas,piranhas,groupers,and moray eels.

After the visit to that spectacular do not miss to admire Vasco da Gama Bridge which with its 17,0 kilometres long it is the Europe's longest bridge,and 9th longest in the world, designed by architect Armando Rito and it was inaugurated on 31 March 1998 to carry visitors from Spain,Southern Portugal and other countries visiting Expo 98.

Enjoy a morning in Parque de Naçoes and after your lunch you can enjoy a pleasant walk around Parque de Naçoes to see the place in which was celebrated that important international event and come back to
Praça Rossio and take the Bus 37 or walking to Alfama.

Alfama is the oldest district of Lisbon situated between the Castle of St.George and the Tagus River.It was originally settled before by the Romans later by the Visigoths and furthermore it was also inhabited by an important Jewish colony  in the 15th century an influential community at that time with relevant traders and artisans.

That district had a very important value in the history of Lisbon during Moorish rule and the origin of that name is of clear Arab heritage deriving from the Arabic Al Hamman and the word Hamman means baths because it was an area in which those former rulers established them.

After the Moorish domination,that district started to be inhabited by stevedores fishmongers and sailors and many of them still occupy Alfama after several generations.

That attractive neighbourhood is picturesque labyrinth of narrow streets and small squares,old buildings and houses,Fado bars and typical restaurants all that mosaic gives that magnificent Lisbon neighbourhood a special charm and a very captivating atmosphere.

The terrible 1755 Lisbon earthquake did not destroy the Alfama, because its foundation is dense bedrock and for that Alfama kept its intact silhouette.

In that place you can feel the popular Lisbon lifestyle a place very evocative,with many historical attractions and  also inspiration for many artists,like Fado singers. 


Artur Ribeiro with his song ‘Vielas de Alfama’ (Alleyways of Alfama),or that iconic Fado Star called Amalia Rodrigues with the song "É Noite na Mouraria" (It’s Night in Mouraria), Maximiano de Sousa or Mariza in her album Fado Curvo had that district inside them part of their culture,soul and spirit,
Alfama is something special,unique and emblematic for what it transmits to a Fado artist and not only.

 
Alfama is also present in the contemporary literature with a novel Les Amants de l´Alfama (The Alfama Lovers ) a work by the Brazilian-Canadian writer Sergio Kokis or in the cinema with the movie Lisbon Story by the German director Wim Wenders.

That district is history,art,inspiration,poetry and joy to live too.For all that for many people that place is so special.The door of Alfama  is Miradouro de Santa Luzia which is a romantic terrace by the Church of Santa Luzia which introduces the visitors to come in that emblematic quarter with a great and spectacular view on Lisbon.


The Lisbon Cathedral  Santa Maria Maior de Lisboa or called also Sé de Lisboa it is the oldest Church of the city.Built in the year 1147 on the site of an old Mosque,that Sacred Temple is a Latin cross consisting in a construction with three aisles and transept and it is a mix of styles.

The Romanesque architectonic canons are visible in its  western facade with a rose window and also in the main portal..The North lateral portal and the nave of the Cathedral are typically  Gothic and also the cloister,the choir and the ambulatory windows.Neoclassical and Rococo are the styles present is the main Chapel while Baroque is the sacristy.

The main facade is composed by two towers and a beautiful rose window,very relevant at the entrance on the left side a baptismal font used in the year 1195 to baptise Saint Anthony who was born nearby and in the sacristy the casket containing the remains of Sao Vicente the official patron saint of Lisbon.

Close to Cathedral worth a visit Igreia de Sao Antonio ( Saint Anthony's Church).As you know the iconic figure St Anthony of Padua was born in Lisbon on the site of that Church.

The Church was developed on a rectangular base and it shows a facade in traditional Baroque style with a presence of Neoclassical Ionic columns as main highlights.In its interior you can admire in the altar an image of the Saint with Christ in his arms.

On the other side of the Cathedral on Rua do Bacalheiros there is a a 16th century curious building : Casa dos Bicos (House of Spikes) It is a building faced by 1125 diamond-shaped stones a palace which belonged to Alfonso de Albuquerque Viceroy of India and it survived the tragic 1755 earthquake.

The inspiration is probably from the Venetian palaces for its silhouette and also material used although the two upper floors arched windows reflect the typical Manuelino style.

Not far from Casas dos Bicos you can dedicate a short visit to The Fado Museum.It is very interesting to know that typical music from Portugal which is not just music,it is pure and divine art in all its essence.

What is Fado ? The concept of Fado music is very deep and typically Portuguese.The word comes from the Latin Fatum,meaning fate.The first Fado can be traced in the year 1820 and the music is often characterised originally about the sea or the life of humble people also moods,in some cases hope and desire of something,sadness but also a veiled status of happiness.

The melancholy character of that music about its origin and according some historic documentations of  some ethnic music experts has origin during the Moorish occupation generating laments and a kind melancholy in a period under new rulers and a subdivision of quarters in the city in something related to the Andalusian Flamenco despite music,sounds and philosophy in the course of the historical stages are totally different.

 
The first Fado in Lisbon can be officially dated around 1840 and it was a Fado Marinheiro (Sailor Fado)and  it was sung only by sailors.That kind of music became very popular with the singer Maria Severa considered by many the mother of thar music,the pioneer of the traditional and pure Fado since its official inception as Folk music and art.

Despite that the Fado icon is definitely the emblematic Amalia Rodrigues who made Fado known beyond Portugal and popular all over Europe,South and North America,Asia and all around the world conquering a multitude of people with her expressive,melodic and full of sentiment songs qnd voice.

That artist also reached her great success because felt the Fado inside,it was not only music,for her Fado was art to transmit the people not a simple series of performances to delight the public,a Alma do Fado deve voar the soul of Fado has to fly and to conquer people that is in an example what meant that music for that great artist.


There are two basic styles or schools of Fado: Lisbon and Coimbra. In Lisbon it is always sung by a solo performer while in Coimbra is more classic and performed by groups.

In that museum you can enjoy a multilingual audio guide accompanies a tour of the museum and a multimedia section introducing you biographic information about that music in Lisbon,Fado History and all the major personalities from singers to composers.It is a very interesting exhibition to know more about that sublime music art absolutely an integral part of Portuguese culture.

After that very interesting visit you can continue with Santa Engracia National Pantheon,that Church contains the tombs of several Portuguese prominent people such as the writer Almeida Garrett,some Portuguese Presidents and the famous singer Amalia Rodrigues.

.Coming back in direction of the Cathedral do not miss a visit to Mosteiro de Sao Vicente de Fora.That Monastery is an exceptional 16th century monument of an immense historic value.

The old monastery inside has a series of panels explaining scenes from La Fontaine's Fables while the refectory became the pantheon of the Bragança Dynasty including Catherine of Bragança,a famous Portuguese Princess who became the Queen of England when she married Charles II.

If you want to enjoy a splendid a beautiful viewpoint offering a panoramic view of Lisbon from the Mosterio de Sao Vicente take the Tram Nº 28 and going to the district of Graça.

The Miradouro da Graça is located up on the hill above the monastery, here is an open-air cafe and a very relaxing atmosphere.Next to the Miradouro you can also admire a great example of Baroque architecture the Igreia da Graça a relevant church because it is one of the oldest in Lisbon built in the year 1271.

After that fantastic view over the Portuguese Capital take Calçada do Monte near the square and you will reach, the highest point of Lisbon : Miradouro da Nossa Senhora do Monte (Our Lady of the Hill Viewpoint),also there the view is absolutely fantastic with a total panoramic on the entire city.

For your dinner to finish your stay in Lisbon,suggested is a traditional  dinner with Fado very typical and great enjoying a Fado Show at night.If you want to stay in Alfama the mother of Fado suggested is The Restaurante Clube de Fado is in the heart of Alfama very close to the Sé de Lisboa (Lisbon Cathedral),

In that place you will find a selective atmosphere and excellent Portuguese cuisine.A further detail is that in Clube d Fado performed prominent artists such as Mario Pacheco (Fado guitar), Joana Armendoira and Ana Sofia Varela among others.All those mentioned artists are part of the Elite and history of that music so it is a place in which there are always great representative figures.

 In alternative you can go to Parreirinha de Alfama another acclaimed place in which performed  a great artist as Argentina Santos.Also that place offers one of the best Fado venues in Alfama,the dining area is small but welcoming and comfortable, giving the restaurant an intimate atmosphere.

Other places for a good Fado show ? ..If you want to come back to Bairro Alto, Café Luso is another option,it is the most renowned Fado and Folklore Restaurant in Portugal and it was founded in the year 1927.

It offers typical Portuguese cuisine and also there performed important artists as Amália Rodrigues,Tony de Matos.and more recently Fadistas of high level such as Elsa Laboreiro and Iola Dinis.

Another one suggested is  Senhor Vinho in Rua do Meio à Lapa 18 in the district of Lapa It is one of the most reputable Fado in Lisbon with an excellent restaurant and also there performed excellent artists such as Maria da Fé and Aldina Duarte.Enjoy a magic night with Fado in Lisboa.

4TH DAY - LISBOA - YOUR COUNTRY
After your breakfast,depending your flight in the evening enjoy Lisbon in your last day remembering all the beautiful things you saw in that city with over 20 centuries of magnificent and marvellous history and later departure to Lisbon Airport- Adeu Lisboa obrigado bella cidade, bye bye Lisbon,thank you beautiful city.

 Francesco Mari


Recommended Hotels in Lisbon 

Hotel Avenida Palace 
Hotel Olissippo Lapa Palace
Hotel Altis Belem 
Hotel Pestana Palace & National Monument 
Hotel Myriad By Sana Hotels
Epic Sana Lisboa Hotel
Hotel Tiara Park Atlantic Lisboa
Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisboa
 Britania Hotel 
Hotel Eurostars Da Letras
Mercy Hotel