Spread across steep hillsides that overlook the Rio Tejo, Lisbon has lots to offer, including gothic cathedrals, majestic monasteries and quaint museums. However the real delights can be discovered by wandering the narrow lanes of Lisbon’s lovely backstreets.
Location – Lisbon region, west coast of Portugal.
Language – Portuguese
Time zone – GMT (GMT + 1 from last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October).
Average January temperatures – 12°C (53.5°F).
Average July temperatures – 24°C (75°F).
Annual rainfall – 24.3 inches.
Currency – Euro
Things to do and See
Castelo de São Jorge
Miradouros (Viewing points)
With its seven hills, Lisbon has a number of places not only to see but also to see from. The Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara, at the top of the Elevador de Glória funicular, offers views over the Baixa and across to the Castelo de São Jorge. Sightseers can see the view over the Alfama and the River Tagus from the Miradouro Santa Luzia, Largo Santa Luzia, and Miradouro das Portas do Sol, Largo Portas do Sol. Other great vantage points are the Miradouro da Graça, Largo Graça, which overlooks the Mouraria and the Castelo and The Elevador de Santa Justa.
Castelo de São Jorge (Castle of St George)
The Castle of St George is perched on the highest of Lisbon’s seven hills, high above the Baixa and the Mouraria (the Moorish Quarter). The site was occupied by Romans, Visigoths and Moors and was the royal residence until the late 15th century, it was rebuilt in the 1940′s. During the summer there are frequent festivals in the castle grounds.
The legendary tram 28 is a tourist attraction in itself. Vintage trams still run from the city centre on sea level, right up through the Lisbon streets towards the heights of the Castle of St George. A ride on the tram, as it cuts through the city, provides an insights into the Lisbon way of life, as well as offering sweeping views back towards the city and out over the River Tagus.
Torre de Belém (Belém Tower)
This white stone tower (built in the early 16th century to defend the river) was the last thing that the seafaring adventurers saw before setting off on their epic adventures. It is a fine example of the Manueline style of architecture, with fanciful naval themes. A gangway leads to a very average museum within the tower.
Mosteiro dos Jerónimos
Mosteiro dos Jerónimos (Hieronimite Monastery)
This 16th-century monastery is one of the few surviving examples of medieval Manueline architecture (named after Manuel I and featuring naval motifs) and is listed, along with the Torre de Belém, as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Mosteiro dos Jerónimos is the resting place of Vasco da Gama and Portugal’s most famous writer, Luís de Camões.
Parque das Nações (Nations Park)
The former Expo 98 site has been converted into a leisure oasis, with a shopping centre, concert halls, bars, restaurants and a walkway along the River Tagus. The Torre Vasco da Gama (the site’s landmark tower and
The Torre Vasco da Gama
Lisbon’s tallest building) has an observation platform and restaurant. The Oceanário (one of Europe’s largest aquariums) has huge pools that are home to manta rays, penguins, sharks and otters. The Pavilhão Atlântico (Atlantic Pavilion) is a very successful venue for concerts, fairs and other functions, and hosted the 2005 MTV Europe Music Awards. The waterside cable car, connecting the tower and oceanarium, offers excellent views over the park.
Museu Calouste Gulbenkian (Calouste Gulbenkian Museum)
Egyptian, Greco-Roman, Islamic and Oriental art comprise half the exhibition rooms and the remainder is devoted to European art from medieval times to the early 20th century.
Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga (National Museum of Ancient Art)
Essentially Portugal’s national gallery, this museum’s collections of painting and sculpture date from the 12th century and include a wide range of works by Portuguese and international artists.
Built in the 12th century by Dom Alfonso Henriques, Portugal’s first king, Lisbon’s cathedral is primarily Romanesque in style, although later styles were incorporated when earthquake damage was repaired. The baroque sacristy houses the remains of St Anthony (Lisbon’s patron saint) and other treasures. The cathedral also has a small museum.
Aqueduto Das Águas Livres
Aqueduto Das Águas Livres (Águas Livres Aqueduct)
The impressive Aqueduto das Águas Livres achieved the much-deserved status of a national monument in 2002. The aqueduct’s startling baroque stone arches, which survived the 1755 earthquake, were erected by architects Manuel da Maia and Custodio José Vieira in 1748.
Museu Nacional do Azulejo (National Tile Museum)
Located in the Convent of Madre de Deus, which was built in 1509, this museum catalogues the history of the decoration that makes Lisbon so unique, with examples of azulejos (glazed tiles) from the 15th century to the present.
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