Exploring Lisbon in one weekend (Day 1)

For work reasons, I had to spend a weekend in Lisbon. Therefore, me and JB took that chance to visit it.

Graça Viewpoint

Graça Viewpoint

On April 2rd 2011 JB caught the Intercity Train in Aveiro and, two and half hours later, we met at Santa Apolónia Train Station.

We started by going to the “Panteão Nacional” (National Pantheon) and after that we visited the “Feira da Ladra” (lit. market of the thief), which occurs nearby.

The National Pantheon, originally intended to be a church dedicated to “Santa Engrácia” (St. Encratis), began to be constructed in 1682, but it was completed only in the mid-20th century. The Church of Santa Engrácia was then converted into the National Pantheon and, nowadays, it houses the remains of some of the major Portuguese figures.


São Pedro de Alcântara Viewpoint

Feira da Ladra is a flea market which occurs every Tuesdays and Saturdays since morning to evening. This market started on the 13rd century and it’s the oldest one occurring in Lisboa. We can find all kinds of second hand objects there, as well as first hand objects. There’s books, clothes, coins, cd’s, shoes, furniture, military clothes, sunglasses, toys…everything we can and can´t imagine. And, usually, everything for a low price.

Then, we enjoyed one of the most beautiful views of Lisboa, from the “Miradouro da Graça” (Graça Viewpoint). The Graça Viewpoint is located next to the “Igreja da Graça” (Graça Church) and, from there, we can see the “Castelo de São Jorge” (Castle of São Jorge), the Ponte 25 de Abril (25th of April Bridge) and the typical Lisboa buildings.

The Santa Justa Lift, as seen from Rua Santa Justa

The Santa Justa Lift, as seen from Rua Santa Justa

Our next destination was the “Castelo de São Jorge” (Castle of St. George), a Moorish castle. It was not easy to arrive there. We walked around and around and we couldn’t find a street to take us to the Castle. But we didn’t gave up and, after a while, we were enjoying the amazing view that the Castle of São Jorge offers.

As I was looking for some indian spices, we went to the “Centro Comercial da Mouraria” (Mouraria Shopping Center), located in one of the oldest and most multicultural districts of Lisboa, the Mouraria. We stopped in the “Praça Martim Moniz” (Martim Moniz Square), situated in front of the Shopping Center, to have a little snack and to admire the Castle of São Jorge.

We continued our walk, towards the “Baixa Pombalina” (Pombaline Lower Town). The “Baixa Pombalina”, or simply “Baixa”, is at the heart of the historic and cultural city center of Lisboa. It was mostly destroyed by the 1755 Lisboa earthquake and it was later redesigned and rebuilt with pioneering earthquake-resistant construction, under the direction of “Marquês de Pombal” (Marquis of Pombal), the prime-minister at that time.

Triumph Arc

Triumph Arc

Going along the “Rua Augusta” (Augusta Street), the main pedestrian street of “Baixa”, we saw the “Elevador de Santa Justa” (Santa Justa Lift), situated at the end of “Rua de Santa Justa” (Santa Justa Street). The Santa Justa Lift is a vertical lift that connects the lower streets of “Baixa” with the higher “Largo do Carmo” (Carmo Square). On “Rua Augusta”, which connects the “Praça do Rossio”(Rossio Square) with the “Praça do Comércio” (Commerce Square), we can also see many outdoor cafes, many shops, street artists, people selling several kinds of items such as souvenirs, sunglasses, paintings… At the end of the street, we admired the Rua Augusta Arch, built to commemorate the reconstruction of Lisboa after the 1755 earthquake.

Statue of King José I

And we were in one of the biggest Squares of Europe, the “Praça do Comércio” (Commerce Square)! Because it was the location of the “Paços da Ribeira” (Royal Ribeira Palace) untill it was destroyed by the 1755 earthquake, “Praça do Comércio” is still commonly known as “Terreiro do Paço” (Palace Square). The first monumental statue dedicated to a King in Lisbon, an equestrian statue of King José I, stands in the center of the Square.

It was almost lunch time, therefore, we went to “Cais do Sodré “Railway Station, where we found a cheap restaurant. We ate a traditional Portuguese dish called “bacalhau com natas” (codfish in cream sauce). “Cais do Sodré” is one of the busiest interchanges of Lisboa. Besides the suburban train, it has interchange to the ferry station, to the “metro” (subway) and to the buses that serve the whole city.


With our belly full, we went up the “Rua do Alecrim” (Alecrim Street) until we reach the “Jardim de São Pedro de Alcântara” ( São Pedro de Alcântara Garden). This garden offers a panoramic view across the city to the Castle of São Jorge. Near the balustrade there´s a map of the city made of tiles (azulejo) that marks the main places of Lisboa.

Next to the garden, we find the “Elevador da Glória”(Glória Funicular) a funicular that takes passengers up and down the hill between “Baixa” and “Bairro Alto”(literally Higher Distric), one of the oldest districts in Lisboa. It was inaugurated on 24th October 1885 and originally designed as a water-powered system. Later, in 1886 it was replaced by a steam-power system and, since 1914, it is being moved by electricity.

Mexican White Cedar in the Royal Prince’s Garden

Not too far away, we crossed a romantic garden with English influence, the “Jardim do Príncipe Real” (Royal Prince’s Garden). This garden has one of the most beautiful and famous trees of Lisboa, a giant Mexican White Cedar (Cupressus lusitanica) with a crown of 23 meters of diameter. Under the Garden we can find a 19thcentury stone water reservoir, the “Reservatório da Patriarcal” (Patriarcal Reservoir), which belongs to the “Museu da Água” (Water Museum).

Continuing walking, we arrived at the “Avenida da Liberdade” (Liberty Avenue), the main avenue of Lisboa. This Avenue had its origins in the “Passeio Público” (Public Park), a park built after the 1755 earthquake, initially surrounded by a high wall and only allowed to the upper class. In 1886 the “Passeio Público” gave place to the “Avenida da Liberdade”. This avenue, built in the style of the Champs-Elysees in Paris, is the site of the city’s grander hotels, banks, cafes, offices, designer shops… and it’s one of the most expensives avenues of the world. In this avenue there’s also a Monument to the Heroes of the Great War, a tribute to the Portuguese soldiers who fought in World War I. This 90 meter-wide boulevard links the “Praça dos Restauradores” (Restauradores Square) with the “Praça do Marquês de Pombal” (Marquis of Pombal Square).

Marquis of Pombal Square

Marquis of Pombal Square

The “Praça do Marquês de Pombal” is a roundabout located between the “Avenida da Liberdade” and the “Parque Eduardo VII” (Edward VII Park). In its center rises a bronze statue of the “Marquês de Pombal” (Marquis of Pombal), the mighty prime-minister who ruled Portugal from 1750 to 1777 and who was responsible for the reconstruction of Lisboa after the 1755 earthquake. This monument shows the Marquis on the top of a column with a lion (symbol of power) by his side, looking towards his masterpiece, the “Baixa Pombalina”. The base of the monument is decorated with allegorical images depicting political, educational, and agricultural reforms of “Marquês de Pombal”.


Eduardo VII Park

We arrived at the “Parque Eduardo VII” (Edward VII Park), originally called Liberty Park and renamed to pay homage to Edward VII, King of England, who visited Portugal in 1903 to strengthen the Anglo-Portuguese alliance. During our walk along the park, we saw the Sports Pavilion, called “Carlos Lopes Pavilion” as a tribute to the Portuguese athlete of the same name, and we were next to some lakes where we saw some peacocks and other birds. This park provides an excellent view over the city and, at the time we visited it, we saw the arrangements to the the annual booksellers fair. Besides the booksellers fair, “Parque Eduardo VII” is used to hold exhibitions and concerts. We may have missed the best part of the “Parque Eduardo VII”, the Cold and the Hot Greenhouses, which are filled with endless varieties of plants from the five continents.


Lisbon Youth Hostel

We walked the way back, to the “Praça do Marquês de Pombal”, to catch the subway to Lisboa Oriente. When we arrived there, we looked for the “Pousada da Juventude” (Youth Hostel) at “Parque das Nações” (Park of the Nations). This was a small adventure, we went to the “Rua de Moscavide” (Moscavide Street), we walked up and down the street, around the street… I don´t know where we walked, I just know we couldn’t find the hostel and it was right next to us! We were so blind. But we found it (after a while, well… a big while)! We took so much time that there were no rooms available when we arrived there. Bad luck! Or not so bad luck, there was still ONE room available in the youth hostel in the center of Lisboa. It was more expensive than the hostel we wanted, but at least we had a room. And it was a special one, it was a twin en-suite room suitable for wheelchair users.

As we had some free time until the time I had to go to work, we strolled in the “Parque das Nações” (Park of the Nations). This is the site of the Expo 98, the World Fair that took place in Portugal in 1998. Many attractions built for the Expo 98 can still be visited, such as the Oceanarium, one of the world’s biggest aquariums, the Atlantic Pavilion and the Knowledge Pavilion. Most of the park is a pedestrian zone where we can go for a walk, for a run or just seat and enjoy the view of the “Estuário do Tejo” (Tagus estuary) and of the “Ponte Vasco da Gama” (Vasco da Gama Bridge), the longest bridge in Europe (17.2 km). It’s also possible to enjoy the cable car ride that runs parallel to the river or have a drink in one of the bars or have a meal in one of the restaurants.

After I had finish my work, we caught a bus to go to the hostel, located in Andrade Corvo Street, not too far from the Parque Eduardo VII, where we had been just a few hours before . It was already late and we were starving. After the check in, we left the hostel to look for a place to have dinner. Not to far away, we found a Pizza Hut. Each of us asked for a “calzone”, but JB asked for a spicy one. When we started eating we felt something was not right with our” calzones”, mine, opposing to JB’s “calzone”, was too much spicy for my taste. We realized then that it had been a mistake in preparation of our “calzones”. We solved the problem by switching our calzones and I lost my calzone with shrimps.

We went back to the hostel for a good rest to be prepared for the next day…

The general course of our trip can be seen here.


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