Lisbon, Portugal

I have been in Scotland for 6 weeks.  I arrived on July 7th, 2013 and sadly, have not updated my journal the whole time. Honestly, I have been working on it but it requires such a time commitment, that I would rather take notes/pictures and write this winter when I am in Maine.  That said, today was a rest day for David and I decided that I would try to write about Lisbon, Portugal where I currently am.  So, rest assured, Scotland will be posted, someday. I am just not certain when!  Hope you enjoy the tour of Lisbon…it is a beautiful city!

I arrived in Lisbon on Tuesday, August 20, 2013 at 4:00 PM.  It was a brilliantly sunny, blue clear-sky and 100 degree day!  Getting from the airport to Rossio Square was easy on the Aerobus.  I met my apartment contact, Mario in Santo Domingo Square, right off of Rossio Square and we proceeded the uphill…and I mean uphill (and stair) climb to the apartment.

I love our apartment!  It looks down upon Rossio Square and in the early morning I can hear the fountain. We are nearby the old city and in a neighborhood that comes alive at night. I feel that I am part of it all!  The narrow, winding streets remind me of the village Corniglia that we stayed in Cinque Terra, Italy back in 2004.

I arrived her a couple of days before David so I could get my bearings….how to get to the airport, where the grocery store is, sights to see.  All that is necessary to be a good tour guide!

For the past couple of days, I have been wandering the various and colorful neighborhoods in Lisbon.  My first day, I discovered Parque Eduardo VII.  It is right in the middle of the city.  At the base of the park is a large statue of the Marques de Pombal who was the prime minister during the reign of King Joseph I.  Pombal is best known for his swift action of rebuilding Lisbon after a devastating earthquake in 1755.

Behind this impressive statue is the Parque Eduardo VII.  It is a lovely area with wide boulevards to walk up to the top for an impressive view of Lisbon.  At the top of the park, is a memorial to those who were involved in the “Carnation Revolution” which took place April 25, 1974 and ultimately brought freedom to Portugal. It is called the carnation revolution because of the peaceful protest and the fact that the protestors put carnations in the barrel of the guns of the military.

Parque Eduardo VII
April 25, 1974 Independence Memorial
This pavilion, The Carlos Lopez Pavilion was built to commemorate 100 year anniversary of Brazil’s independence from Portugal. It opened in May, 1923 at the Big International Exhibit of Rio de Janeiro.  If I understand the information correctly that was near the pavilion, it sounds like it was built here in Portugal, then shipped over to Rio de Janeiro for the exhibition.  Later, it was shipped back to Portugal and reconstructed in 1932 on the spot where it stands today, near the Parque Eduardo VII.  Over the years, it was used as an exhibition hall and also held world class sporting events.  Today, it is in dire need of restoration but thankfully, it appears that people are working toward that cause.
Just walking around Lisbon can be an adventure.  There are so many amazing and majestic buildings everywhere.  I have been amazed just walking down a street and looking down a side street to see an incredible building standing so proud at the end.  Take for example, this photo.  I didn’t find out what the building was used for.  It was in the Largo de Jesus…I just tried to find out what Largo was in Portuguese but didn’t have any luck.  Still, it was an impressive sight, don’t you agree?
The churches are incredible from what I have seen as well.  So far, I have yet to pay to enter one which has been refreshing.  In my travels in other countries, most churches that you enter are now requiring an entrance fee.  I understand that it helps in the maintenance, which can cost thousands of dollars a day but personally, I feel it is kind of sad to have to pay to enter a house of worship.  Anyway, it is refreshing to be able to visit a church here and not have to pay!  The church of Saint Catherines was getting ready to close for siesta time so I only had a few minutes in it.  The outside is very unassuming but the inside, OH MY GOSH, I so wasn’t expecting it!

In 1680, this church was inaugurated as the Old of the Monastery of the Paulits. It is done in the style of baroque and rococo.  It was just extraordinary.

Another church that I visited in the same day was the Basilica de Estrela.  It was built by Queen Maria I

in gratitude to the birth of her son, Jose.  The building of the basilica began in 1779 but sadly, Jose died two years before the completion of it in 1790.  Jose passed away from smallpox in 1788.   This Basilica is a landmark of Lisbon today and it is understandable why.  It is a grand church.

I paid to go to the rooftop and was so glad that I did as I could walk around the top of the dome, looking down into the church which gave an amazing perspective and a better understanding of how grand and imposing this church is.  
Across the street from the Basilica is a lovely park, Jardim da Estrela.  I love how the Europeans seem to enjoy their parks and plazas more so than we Americans do.   It is such a social time for them to gather in the parks and plazas and watch life roll by.  I think that we could learn from them, to stop and smell the roses a little more!  

Lisbon is a city of larger than life buildings, statues, decorative stone work and beautiful tile buildings.  It is a treasure to just walk around and absorb the sights.  However, sometimes it can be tricky walking and looking around as some of the infrastructure is unstable and you can easily trip if you are not watching where you are going!

This is an excellent example of a building decorated in the tiles.

There are lovely plazas everywhere throughout Lisbon.  Usually, there are cafes where people can have a coffee, glass of wine or beer.  Often, they are well shaded with trees to escape the hot afternoon sun.  Just a peaceful place to relax. This plaza is Praca de Carmo, near the National Guard building and the ruins of Convento do Carmo that was destroyed in the 1775 earthquake.  The Marques de Pombal decided that the Gothic arches be left open to the sky as a reminder of the disastrous event.  
Cafes are an important part of the culture here.  It is a great social time to sit and visit with friends over a cup of espresso.  This cafe is in the Bairro Alto neighborhood of Lisbon.  Bairro Alto,  (High Neighborhood),  is one of the older neighborhoods and was established in the 1500 outside of the walled city of Lisbon.  This Art Nouveau cafe is Cafe a Brasileira and is over 100 years old.  It first started out selling products from Brazil.  In the 1920s and 1930s, it was the literary and creative center of Lisbon where the young, new creative writers, poets and artist of that time would meet.  I enjoyed a coffee and chocolate croissant at the counter before continuing on. 
This statue is located just outside of the cafe and is of the poet Fernando Pessoa.  According to my travel guide, he is one of the most important 20th century literary figures. I am sorry to say that I have never heard of him.  So, I will have to read more about him.  One of the great things of traveling is the education that one gets.  I had never heard of Pablo Neruda until I moved to Chile.  The movie “Il Postino”or The Postman, which I loved, was loosely based on Pablo Neruda but at the time, I didn’t realize that.  Now, I love the works of Neruda and even have a book of his poetry.  I will have to look into Fernando Pessoa as well.
Over the years, the people of Lisbon have been creative with ways to conquer the hills of the city.  There are the stairways…..
or the funiculars……..
                                        or the street cars…………
or even elevators!  This elevator is the Elevador de Santa Just a.  It is 150 feet tall and constructed of iron.  It was built in 1902 and it is suggested that the architect was perhaps inspired by the Eiffel Tower. It is quite a feat, don’t you think? 
In the Baixa district, is the area of Lisbon, that includes Rossio Square and is the flat area between the two hills of the city…Barrio Alto on one hill and Alfama on the other hill.  The area starts down by the water of the Tagus River……, goes through Rossio Square, up Avenida da Liberdade, which I wrote about earlier…the wide boulevard that lead to Parque Eduardo VII and into the new part of town.  I have yet to explore Alfama so will write about it later, when I do. 
The Praca do Comercio (Trade Square) and also nicknamed Palace Square by the locals, is down by the Rio Tejo (Tagus River).   For over 200 years, the palace stood here and when the earthquake in 1755 happened, it created a tsunami as well and the palace was destroyed by both events.  After this event, the palace was never rebuilt as the King Joseph I fled the city, never to return.  
It is an impressive square and a nice place to walk on a warm evening as there is a nice breeze coming off the river.  These are the archways on the buildings that outline the square.  These buildings house cafes, restaurants, museums and one of the several information centers in Lisbon.  
The statue in the center of the square is that of King Joseph I.   It was constructed 20 years after the earthquake.  It is a very symbolic statue…the horse that the king is on represents triumph.  He is stomping on a snake which is symbolic for evil…could that be for the evil Protestants or the nobility?  There is an elephant on one side of the statue that represents the Portuguese colonies in India and Africa.  
The Arch of Triumph built to commemorate the city’s reconstruction after the devastating earthquake. is in the background of the statue and is very impressive.  It leads to the pedestrian street of Rua Augusta. My Rick Steves guidebook says that this street Augusta “relates the Portuguese king to a Roman emperor”.  I am not quite certain what this means…that by naming the street after a Roman emperor and having it lead to the King, it is relating the two?  I don’t know…you decide for yourself.  This picture is looking from Rua Augusta toward the Palace Square – see the statue of King Joseph I?
This picture is of Rua Augusta, showing the tourist taking in the shops, restaurants and cafes.  It is a lively place and as you can imagine a great place to “people” watch.
So, there you have my first impressions of Lisbon.  Now, I have David here to share/enjoy it with me.  I have spent the day writing this and hopefully, my next attempt to keeping my blog up-to-date won’t take quite as long!!!  I am off to take a shower and venture out to get something to eat for dinner…it is 7:00 PM at night and I am hungry!

Leave a Reply