Mission impossible! Three times in a couple of hours is already feasible.
Many of you have been asking me to write a map of the visit to Lisbon for a long time, but many of you also resented my blogs being too long. Therefore, I came up with the idea to introduce this marvelous city to you in three parts. Depending on your available time, you can choose the parts you definitely do not want to miss, according to your own affinities.
Lisbon (Portuguese: Lisboa), the capital and the largest city of Portugal, is an energetic and amazing city, which has so much to offer to its visitors, of history, heritage, fascinating architecture, delicious food, wonderful cork products and a surprisingly vibrant nightlife.
- The Belém Tower
- The Monument to the Overseas Combatants
- The Tagus River
- The Belem Lighthouse
- The Monument of the Discoveries
- Empire Square
- The Jerónimos Monastery
- Pasteis de Belém
- The National Palace of Belém
- 25th of April Bridge
- The Sanctuary of Christ the King
- Time Out Market
My unquestionably most favorite part of Lisbon and its most iconic feature, is the Belém Tower (Portuguese: Torre de Belém), where we will start our tour.
The tower was commissioned by King John II to be part of a defense system at the mouth of the Tagus River and a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon. It was built in the early 16th century and is an outstanding example of the Portuguese Manueline style with hints of other architectural styles from the Gothic to the Romanesque.
It was built from Lioz limestone and it consists of a bastion and a four-storey tower. If you decide to enter, count on climbing 93 steps up to the top!
Right next to it there is the Monument to the Overseas Combatants, an attraction more recently added to Lisbon’s waterfront, commemorating all the people that lost their lives in the wars that Portugal was involved.
Its simple design and the cold geometry focus our attention to what the monument represents, and towards the center where the flame of the nation is placed. The lake symbolizes the distance and separation of the combatants from home and family, and there are no names of individuals or wars.
Two soldiers stand guard at the Monument all the time.
Following the River Tagus (Tejo), the longest river in the Iberian Peninsula (1,007 km), which empties into the Atlantic Ocean, forming a large estuary near the port city of Lisbon, in the direction of the city center, we will get to the Belem Lighthouse and to the Popular Art Museum (Museu de Arte Popular).
Just after them, there is the Monument of the Discoveries (Padrao dos Descobrimentos), a contemporary monument celebrating the Portuguese discoveries during the 15th and 16th centuries.
The view from the top is awesome, and you can also admire the breathtaking, large compass rose made of different color stone, laid into the square in front of the monument.
The area surrounding it is always full of tourists and locals, usually there is a band playing, and the atmosphere is simply fantastic.
We will leave the Tagus now, and cross Av. Brasilia to get to The Praça do Império (Empire Square), a city square and park situated adjacent to principal monuments and tourist attractions of Lisbon. The park is situated to the south of the Monastery of Santa Maria de Belém and west of the Centro Cultural de Belém.
It has the central illuminated fountain on a square platform, covering an area of 3,300 square meters (36,000 sq. ft.), and the sculptures of the seahorses on the extreme edges of the southern part of the square.
The Jerónimos Monastery (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos), is a former monastery of the Order of Saint Jerome, and one of the most prominent examples of the Portuguese Late Gothic Manueline style of architecture in Lisbon. In 1983 it was classified a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the nearby Tower of Belém.
The Jerónimos Monastery replaced the church formerly existing in the same place, which was dedicated to Santa Maria de Belém and where the monks assisted the sailors in transit.
It is impressive inside, with some lovely stained glass windows and the Tomb of Vasco da Gama, who spent the night in prayer there with his men before departing on their expedition to the Orient in 1497. It is well worth a visit.
At the very beginning of Belém Street, you will find an old pastry shop, where you can taste their famous Pasteis de Belém (called Pasteis de Nata when not made in Belém itself). Be prepared to join a long queue, but the service is great and it moves very quickly.
These delicious Portuguese custard tarts come warm and they are some of the best in Lisbon.
The shop's interior is beautiful and it is worth visiting for a few minutes. You can have a look into the bakery through the glass panes. The building is very old and there are some fabulous hand-painted tiles on the walls.
Following the street towards the city center, you will see Afonso de Albuquerque Garden on your right and the Palace of Belém on your left side, with the Tropical Botanical Garden behind.
The Belém Palace, or the National Palace of Belém, (Palácio Nacional de Belém) has been the official residence of Portuguese monarchs and later, the Presidents of the Portuguese Republic. The five buildings that make up the main façade date back to the second half of the 17th century.
To finish the first part of our visit to Lisbon, we can either take the train over (actually under) the 25 de Abril Bridge to visit the statue of Jesus Christ, which takes 4-5 minutes, or we can proceed towards the center and go to the Time Out Market. On the other hand, we can do both! :)
25th of April Bridge is a suspension bridge connecting the city of Lisbon to the left (south) bank of the Tagus. It was inaugurated in 1966, and a train platform was added in 1999. It is often compared to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, US, because they are both suspension bridges of similar color. It is a wonderful construction of 2,277 meters (7,470 ft.), whose upper deck carries six car lanes, and the lower deck carries a double track railway.
The Sanctuary of Christ the King (Santuário de Cristo Rei) is a giant statue in cement, erected to express gratitude because the Portuguese were spared the effects of World War II. It is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ overlooking the city of Lisbon.
Time Out Market in Lisbon is a brilliant place for any food lover, although it can take you ages to decide what you want to eat because there is so much to choose from! There is something for every palate, such a diversity of restaurants where the food is very well prepared and prices are moderate, along with littles stores where shopping is very pleasant. It is a place full of high-spirited energy from all around the world.
To be continued …