28-years-old Salvador Sobral from Portugal has won the 62nd Eurovision Song Contest . He win the hearts of audience with emotional and rather unusual for Eurovision song “Amar Pelos Dois” (PL: Love for Two). Portugal has been waiting for 53 years to win. Since its debut, it has never been in the top 5. The competition is heading to Lisbon in 2018 and is another excuse to visit this city.
Lisbon is ideal for a city break at any time of the year. Its location and architecture provides an unforgettable experience from the very beginning. Even the airplane landing in Lisbon is an interesting experience because of the mountainous and unusual for a European capital terrain. This time I had only 4 hours to feel the city climate. Do you want to know what I visited in Lisbon in those four hours? I invite you to read this text.
Why only four hours? At the end of February I flew with business in Cascais, which I will tell you about in the next text. My return flight was about 19, so a few hours before departure I decided to dedicate to quickly sightseeing of the Portuguese capital. Time for a visit was unusual, but with 15 degrees and the sun you can’t complain.
Lisbon is located in the western part of the Iberian Peninsula over the Tagus river at the exit to the Atlantic Ocean. Although it is the richest region of Portugal, you rather will feel that the country is a crisis and it is poorer than neighboring Spain. This fact, however, only adds the charm to Lisbon because you feel it’s authenticity and history. Each building seems to hide a secret. The city can also boast objects inscribed on the UNESCO list.
Modernity and industrialism we can really feel in only one part of the city in the district of Parque das Naçoe, which I was able to see in the evening the day before. This modern district was established on the occasion of the Expo in 1998. Once there was a deserted port. Currently, the urban space is filled with original design office and apartment buildings as well as delightful modern design train station.
The attractions include the Aquarium, the largest in Europe (Oceanario), 140-meter high observation tower Vasco da Gama (Torre Vasco da Gama), Knowledge Pavilion (Pavilhão Conhecimento – Ciência Viva) and the Portuguese Pavilion (Pavilhão de Portugal). Here, to it is well visible one of the longest bridges in Europe Vasco da Gama with a length of 17 km and you can ride along the river Tagus with cable car (Teleférico).
The western part of the city is mainly occupied by the Monsanto Park, the largest urban park in Europe. Its area is 10 km².
On the last day I decided to focus on the districts of La Baixa, El Chiado, La Alfama and Belém. About 13:30 I took a taxi from the airport to the city center for 13 euros. You can also use the bus or the subway to avoid traffic jams. I was limited with timing, so I decided to taxi. About 14 I found myself on one of the main squares of Praça do Rossio, or Praça de Dom Pedro IV, from which I decided to start my 4 – hour tour of Lisbon.
Once here was focused social and political life of Lisbon. Here were located before the earthquake of 1755 years (largely destroyed Lisbon) the most important and most impressive institutions of the city. It is also linked to the holy Inquisition. Currently, there is a beautiful national theater Teatro Nacional D. Maria II, railway station Rossio with its magnificent Neo-Manueline facade (on the left side of the theater), the Palace of Independence and the Church of St. Dominic (on the right), Arch Arco da Bandeira and in the middle of the column with the statue of the king of Portuguese and Brazilian Emperor Pedro IV (Coluna de D. Pedro IV). After the two sides there are imported from France a fountains made of bronze.
Square connects to the Rua Aurea, which I follow in the down town. A few meters further to the right is a narrow street R. do Ouro where is visible a huge gray neo-Gothic elevator Santa Justa Elevator (45 meters).
Beyond this one Lisbon has three other antique elevator, but this is the most popular due to its central location. Looking at the lift you get the impression that it is similar in its construction to the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Elevator was in fact designed by Raoul Mesnier de Ponsard, who was a disciple of the famous Gustave Eiffel.
To buy a ticket (5.15 euro) you have to go down the stairs next to the elevator, where it will wait for elevator operator. Remember that you can only pay in cash. The entry lasts about a minute, but the sensations are very interesting because of the wooden interior elevator.
At the top waiting for us two terraces and beautiful panorama of the city from the districts of Baixa, Alfama and Castle St. George (Castelo de São Jorge).
From the terrace you can go down the stairs on a charming square Largo do Carmo, where, among others, are Archaeological Museum do Carmo (ruins of the former convent of the Carmelites), the Museum of the National Guard and a café.
Going a little further, we see the Baroque Church of Sts. Rocha and the theater Teatro da Trindade. A short walk through the narrow streets will allow us to get to know Lisbon’s Chiado district.
Time is chasing, so I descend by lift. I go on pedestrian Rua Augusta in the direction of the river Tagus to the most representative square of Lisbon – Praça do Comércio, which is part of the Baixa.
I must admit that this square did a great impression on me not only because of its size, but also architecture. Square is enclosed by two massive towers, which are to symbolize the former Palace of Ribeira and its size. That palace was here before the earthquake in 1755. The surrounding buildings have a square on the ground floors of spacious galleries in the form of arcades. They house include Ministry of Justice, museums, restaurants and cafes, among others, the oldest in Lisbon – Cafe Martinho da Arcada (1782.), which was a favorite place of the famous Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa. The center of the square is dominated by the monument Joseph I on Praca do Comercio, the Portuguese king also called Reformer.
The characteristic and perhaps the most recognizable monument in the square is the triumphal arch Arco da Rua Augusta, which like all of the Baixa, was built after the great earthquake in 1755. It consists of six 11-meter column, and Figures 9 representing e.g. Glory, Ingenuity, Courage and meritorious Portuguese history (including Vasco da Gama, and Viriato). At the bow there is a view point Miradouro to Arco da Rua Augusta (2.5 euro ticket).
For me personally a very relaxing place was waterfront Cais das Colunas with characteristic two columns and stairs descending to the river.
I sat on the wall for a few minutes to look at the horizon and stunning design of the Ponte 25 de Abril. A big surprise for me was when suddenly came to me some vendor and instead of souvenirs offered me marijuana. It probably is not legal?
After a brief stop I did short walk under the arches and the next stop in the sexiest toilet by company Renova (not tell why). My attention took on the way the stunning interior and the machine to brew beer in the Beer Museum (Museu da Cerveja).
I do not have time for visit, so I limit myself to a small beer and snack in the form of pastel de bacalhau com Queijo da Serra, which is something along the lines of croquet fish with cheese. They are made on site and really delicious. Bacalhau which is a cod is a traditional fish in Portugal. However, if you have a less tight schedule, I would definitely recommend entrance to the museum (ticket 3.5 euro).
According to my plan, the next goal was the oldest district of Lisbon – La Alfama. In my opinion the best wa of doing this is by yellow tram 28. The entire route takes about 30-40 minutes depending on traffic jams (as in Lisbon trams stuck in traffic jams) and access to electricity. Tram in theory you can catch a few streets away from the Praça do Comércio. I unfortunately failed due to lack of ticket. Unfortunately you cannot buy them directly on the tram. So I set out in search of a kiosk. The recommendation of the Lady of the cafe took me the Figueira Square, where you can buy a ticket in the so-called Casa de Sorte (single euro 1.45). More info about transport and tickets you will find here. Very distinctive sign so it’s hard not to notice.
Then I go through the square and go in the direction of the hotel Imperial. There is a tram stop Martin Moniz, where I catch the tram 28. The route impresses me from the beginning. Firstly I cannot believe that this narrow street is that exposing your hand out the window, I can give it the person in the neighboring building. Secondly, the first time I rode the tram up the hill. Thirdly, I was full of admiration for Mrs. driver. The amount of effort that she had to put in the driving of the tram was amazing. The tram is driven manually, and on the same road going cars and pedestrians walk. The route leads through the narrow and winding streets between the oldest buildings in Lisbon. It is worth to make a stop and a short walk.
We can get off e.g. at:
- R. Graca stop and from there go to the view terrace Miradouro Nossa Sephora de Monte, where there is a beautiful view
- Graca stop with another panoramic terrace Miradouro da Graça, and Graça church and monastery
- Stop CC S. Vecente, where we will see the Monastery of St. Vincent (Mosteiro São Vicente de Fora) and the National Pantheon (Panteao Nacional)
- Stop Lg. Portas Sol, where there is an view point Miradouro das Portas do Sol with the most beautiful views of the Alfama and the Museum of Decorative Arts (Museu de Artes Decorativas)
- Stop Miradoro Sta. Luzia with another viewpoint Miradouro de Santa Luzia, from where you can take a walk to the castle of St. George, that is Castelo de São Jorge.
I get off at the bus stop at stop called Sé where is nearest to the Sé Cathedral (the oldest church in Lisbon).
Then I walk back to the square Comercio and get on tram 15, which will take me to the Belem district (about 30-40 minutes). In this way, I get to know another part of Lisbon, which differs radically from the center. For a while I even got the impression that I drove to a completely different city. Virtually the entire episode will accompany us a view of the red bridge Ponte 25 de Abril.
I get off at the bus stop Mosteiro dos Jeroimos and is heading towards visible from afar Jeronimos monastery, which is the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos, that simply delights and denies taking in its vastness. Along the way you will pass the famous Café Rua de Belem, which are sold cookies Pasteis de Belem.
Due to the time constraint I didn’t enter inside the monastery, but I heard that it is worth. Here you can find info about tickets. I go across the street, where there is a park with fountains. From here we can fully enjoy the magnificence of the monastery. From there it is only a stone’s throw to the waterfront, where there is a monumental Monument to the Discoveries Padrão dos Descobrimentos and the view of the bridge Ponte 25 de Abril. To do this, you have to go underground by tunnel.
Monument to the Discoveries celebrates the people deserved for Portugal in the era of great geographical discoveries, among others, sailors, explorers etc. On the monument are 33 characters (including Vasco da Gama, Ferdinand Magellan, Diogo Cão, Nuno Gonçalves, Luís de Camões), led by Henry the Navigator model caravel in his hands. The most popular place to take a selfie is located next to a marble mosaic with a diameter of 50 m, showing the map and itinerary of Portuguese explorers, which was donated by Portugal, South Africa in 1960.
As I had only a 15-minute more my last point is the Torre de Belém, which is the second monument in Lisbon, Portugal on the UNESCO list.
Initially, the tower served as a military. They were in it, among others, barracks, telegraph service point, the toll of ships calling at Lisbon, or the lighthouse. After the earthquake of 1755 the tower was moved from the middle of the river to its present location. In 1833, for two months was imprisoned here, General Jozef Bem, the creator of Polish Legion in Portugal. Tower can be visited in the price of 6 euros. Unfortunately I did not have time for this. At. 17:30 I took a taxi to the airport. My brief meting with the capital of Portugal came to an end.