Things to see and do - Lisbon
Leaving for Madeira
Secret Lisbon :
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Secret LisbonPedestrian, Public Transport, 25 km, 3 days
With its staircases, old trams, bookshops that open at night, stalls where you can drink la bica (a small coffee) or ginginha (a cherry liqueur), Lisbon is more alive than it’s possible to describe! From the right bank of the Tagus to the area west of Belém, this itinerary will allow you to discover the city far from the beaten track.Customise this route and add it to My travel book
Opened in August 1966, the bridge has an overall length of 2 278m and has the longest central span in Europe: 1 013m. It is 70m over the waters of the Tagus and is suspended from two pylons, 190m high; the foundations of the southern pile go 80m below the water (a world record) into the basalt rock. From the bridge there is an excellent view over the town looking from south to north.
A pleasant way of discovering the city and the harbour traffic. Unfortunately, the small Venetian-type barges with large sails are becoming increasingly scarce. However, visitors should not miss a trip across the estuary on one of the regular ferries. The trip is enjoyable with excellent views of the city and its hills. Approaching Lisbon by boat at the Terreiro do Paço gives the impression of entering the very heart of the city.
The finest square in Lisbon is where the royal palace destroyed by the earthquake once stood, hence its name, the Terreiro do Paço (Palace Terrace). It is lined by classical buildings with yellow façades resting on galleries with arcades and is an excellent example of Pombaline style. A 19C Baroque triumphal arch forms a backdrop to the statue of King José 1. King Carlos 1 and his heir, Prince Luis Felipe, were assassinated on the square on 1 February 1908.
Rebuilt to plans drawn up by Pombal after the 1755 earthquake, this lively shopping and commercial area is Lisbon's nerve centre. In the daytime, it is crowded with a wide cross-section of people, tourists, shoeshiners, bank employees and sailors, etc. In the evening, it is simply a thoroughfare for cars. Its geographic location makes it a good starting point for sightseeing in the city and a practical area to make your base.
The castle, the heart of the city, is perched on a hillside. It was built by the Visigoths in the 5C, enlarged by the Moors in the 9C and modified in the reign of Alfonso Henriques. It was used as a royal residence from the 14 to the 16C. The castle's ten towers all provide viewpoints over the city. However, from the former parade ground just inside the outer wall, the view over the Tagus, the suspension bridge and the left bank is marvellous.
This little terrace atop the hill of Santa Luzia with its modern basilica (a place of pilgrimage) is an ideal viewpoint. Preceded by a large square and a monumental staircase, it provides an excellent view over the Tagus, the harbour, the rooftops of Alfama and its maze of small streets dominated by the bell-towers of São Miguel and Santo Estêvão. The outer walls of the church of Santa Luzia are covered with small panels of azulejos showing the Praça do Comércio, Lisbon's capture by the Crusaders and the death of Martim Moniz in São Jorge castle. On the wall marking the south side of the square is an azulejo showing a general view of Lisbon.
The Chiado, in particular Rua do Carmo and Rua Garret, was the city's department store district before the 1988 fire. Since its renovation by the architect, Alvaro Siza Vieira, well-known international names have moved into the district although its bookshops and some old shops have remained. Between the buildings are pleasant patios with café terraces.
The lift was built in 1901 by Raul Mesnier de Ponsard, a Portuguese engineer of French origin who was influenced by Gustave Eiffel. Prior to the 1988 fire, it provided direct access to the Chiado quarter. Long closed for repairs, it has now reopened. From the café on the upper platform (32m above street level), there is a good view over the Rossio and Baixa.
The heart of monumental Manueline Lisbon, Belém overlooks the Tagus, and is now home to the Belém Cultural Centre. This is a pleasant, airy district with villas and gardens, set on a hillside dominating the river. It has strong links with Portuguese maritime history since it was from here in the 15C that ships set out to brave the oceans in search of unknown lands. The Belém Tower, the Monastery of the Hieronymites and the principal museums are located in this district.
The tower was originally built in 1519 in the middle of the Tagus to defend the Hieronymite monastery and to serve as a lighthouse. Since the earthquake altered the course of the river, this five-storey Manueline tower now stands next to a beach. The Romanesque-Gothic structure is adorned with Venetian-style loggias and small domes like those in Morocco. Jutting out from the tower, facing the sea is a platform. On the ground floor, visitors will see the openings through which prisoners were thrown into the pits below.