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Lisbon

The capital of Portugal is the guardian of a glorious colonial past
There are few capital cities that embody the essence of the lifestyle and history of an entire nation. Lisbon in Portugal does just this, and the soul of the country’s people, their relationship with the sea and the first colonial conquests of overseas countries is immediately tangible in the monuments and atmosphere of the city.
 
Il fiume Tejo
Lisbon stands at the mouth of the Tagus, (or Tejo), a river whose banks are connected by two bridges, the ‘25 de Abril Bridge’ and the ‘Vasco de Gama Bridge’. The latter was inaugurated in 1998, in time for the Universal Exposition, to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the explorer’s discovery of the sea route to India.
 
Parco das Nacoes
Parco das Nacoes
Also on this occasion, new life was brought to the Parco das Nacoes, which hosted the Expo. Today the park is a busy city space filled with shops and bars and perfect for a cycle ride or stroll. Worth a visit in the park is Oceanario, one of the largest aquariums in the world and one of the city’s most popular attractions.
 
During the era of the conquests, Lisbon and Portugal experienced a time of great economic prosperity and many foreign artists were drawn to the country for work, giving rise to a universal meeting of cultures. This is evident in the Manueline style of architecture, which developed under the reign of Manuel I (Emmanuel I), the first king of Portugal (from 1495 to 1521). The Monastery dos Jeronimos, in the Belem district, is an important example of this style. Built on the site of a small chapel, it was used by sailors who would come and pray here before and after a voyage.
 
Belem Tower
 
It was King Manuel I himself who wanted to transform the modest chapel into a majestic monument in honour of the Virgin Mary of Belem, Protectress of sailors, after the success of the voyages of Vasco de Gama. The architectural style of the building features various motifs inspired by nautical themes, such as ropes, anchors, chains and shells, as well as the armillary sphere, a navigational instrument and symbol of King Manuel I, which is still depicted on the Portuguese crest. Built on the banks of the River Tagus, near the Monastery, defending and watching over the city, the Belem Tower is one of the architectural gems of the reign of Manuel I. Constructed in white stone, it stands at the point where ships once departed on their voyages of discovery.
 
Azulejos
Azulejos
Giving the city a unique burst of colour, azulejos (painted tiles) are a legacy of the Arabs, who lived here for almost four centuries. The word is derived from the Arab al-zuleique, meaning a ‘small, smooth polished stone’ used by the Muslims in the Middle Ages. The Portuguese kings admired the way azulejos were used to decorate floors and walls, so the tiles began to be produced in Portugal in the late fifteenth century.
 
During the eighteenth century, this art form flourished, becoming one of the main decorative elements of the country, and was used in churches, palaces, houses, gardens, fountains and stairways. Portugal is the country which more than any other has loved and used azulejos, and their history is illustrated in the Museu Nacional do Azulejos.
 
 
The fado
Lisbon is also the homeland of fado, a musical genre characterized by mournful and melancholy tunes, an expression of the sentiment of the Portuguese people who were accustomed to continuous absences from their land, to goodbyes and nostalgia motivated by their frequent voyages at sea.
Made famous throughout the world by Amalia Rodriguez, fado is sung in many bars in the city and has almost become a symbol of the country. Due to its unique features, it has been included in UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
 
 
The districts of Lisbon
 
Bairro Alto
Bairro Alto
One of the districts where fado is sung in many houses and bars is Bairro Alto, located on one of the seven hills on which the city stands. The district has numerous restaurants serving traditional food by candlelight, in particular fish, including sardines and saltcod – it seems there are recipes for every day of the year – and soups.

 
Rossio Square
Baixa
Rossio Square in the Baixa district, in the old town, is one of the most popular squares in Lisbon and features the most famous Theatre in Portugal, built in Neoclassical style and named after the queen Donna Maria II
 
 
Chiado Districts
Chiado
The Chiado District is instead renowned for its patisseries, which serve traditional puff pastry custard-filled tarts known as ‘pastéis de nata’, perhaps accompanied by a sip of Port, the famous local sweet fortified wine, or, for those who prefer dry wine, by one of the world-famous “green” wines.
 
 
Another place to visit is the Church of Santo Antonio, which was built on the site of the house where the saint was born. The saint is celebrated here every 13th June with the spectacular Feast of St. Anthony.
 
Portuguese cuisine 
The “king“ of Portuguese cuisine is fish cooked on the grill or prepared in soups in the traditional copper pot called cataplana. To taste cozido à portuguesa, a boiled meat of various kinds, with vegetables. Among the many desserts, do not miss the pastel de nata, a delicious cream puff to be savored with a Porto or a Madeira, liqueur wines known all over the world.
 
Fish cooked in the cataplana
Cozido à portuguesa
 
Pastel de nata
Porto Wine
 
 
Where to sleep in Lisbon
 
Lisbon is a welcoming city and offers different possibilities for accommodation.

To find the ideal hotel and the best offers you can do a search for the stars but also for districts or landmarks.  

 

Text by Anna Glik
Photos: Sisterscom.com, Shutterstock
Copyright © Sisterscom.com
All rights reserved. 
Published on Avion Tourism N52 - Updated: september 2018
Video: www.visitlisboa.com
 
 
Tourism Board
www.visitlisboa.com 
www.visitportugal.com
WHERE TO GO
Monuments
SÃO JORGE CASTLE
Situated on one of the city's highest hills, the Castle is a ubiquitous image of the Lisboa's landscape with its proud and imposing walls. In the Castle Christian kings and Moors once lived, whilst Romans and Visigoths spent time here too. And today hundreds of visitors to Lisboa come to explore it. In the 20th century was recognized being classified as a National Monument. The entry is in via Rua dos Fanqueiros and Rua da Madalena, in the Baixa downtown area.
www.castelodesaojorge.pt
AJUDA NATIONAL PALACE
Ajuda National Palace, a magnificent work of Portuguese architecture, was built after the 1755 earthquake that destroyed Ribeira Palace, forcing King José I to order the construction a new residence for the royal family. Nowadays, the palace retains the royal chambers, restored to their original condition of the era. Another wing of the palace houses a museum where you can discover one of the great national decorative arts collections, covering a period between the 15th and the 20th centuries.
www.palacioajuda.pt
 
AVENIDA DE LIBERDADE
Rebuilt between 1879 and 1882 and inspired by the style of the Champs Élysées in Paris, Avenida da Liberdade is one of the main arteries of the city of Lisboa. There are numerous hotels, shops and some of the best cafes and theatres. Majestic and elegant, in this avenue of the Portuguese capital, buildings of great beauty have been built and restored here, as is the case of the neoclassical Tivoli theatre.
MONASTERY OF THE HIERONYMITES
One of the most imposing symbols of the city of Lisbon is the Monastery of the Hieronymites (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos), the construction of which was started in 1501 by King Manuel I and finished a century later. Overlooking the magnificent Praça do Império, the monument is an outstanding example of late Gothic and Renaissance architecture and is regarded as one of Lisbon’s finest landmarks. The tombs of Vasco da Gama and the epic poet Luís de Camões can be found in the Church of the Monastery.
RUA AUGUSTA ARCH
Majestic and monumental, Rua Augusta's Arch is the symbol of triumphant Lisboa, reborn from the ashes of the 1775 Earthquake. Situated in the north wing of Praça do Comércio, this Neoclassical Arch marks the horizon of this historic area of the city. Crowning Rua Augusta in white, it is the gateway to this prime avenue bustling with activity, which today can be seen from up high in the Arch's gazebo, accessible by lift.
 
Museums
MAAT - MUSEUM OF ART, ARCHITECTURE AND TECHNOLOGY
Av. Brasília, Central Tejo (Belém)
The Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT) is the recent cultural center of Lisbon. The innovative design is in harmony with the new building, designed by Amanda Levete Architects' studio and the Central Tejo Power Station, one of the most significant examples of Portuguese industrial architecture of the first half of the 20th century. MAAT is dedicated to presenting national and international exhibitions dedicated to contemporary artists and architects.
CALOUSTE GULBENKIAN MUSEUM
Av. Berna, 45-A
The Calouste Gulbenkian Museum was built to house the art collection of the rich Armenian financier Calouste Sarkis Gulbenkian, (Üsküdar - Istanbul, 1869 - Lisbon, 1955). The Museum holds a collection of six thousand pieces and its galleries exhibit over one thousand and four hundred pieces divided into different arts: Egyptian, Greco-Roman, Mesopotamian, Eastern Islamic, Armenian, Far Eastern, Sculpture, book, painting, decorative and the work of René Lalique.
www.museu.gulbenkian.pt
 
Excursions
PARK OF NATIONS
It is the brand of contemporary Lisboa, a place where the city’s inhabitants have fun, enjoy shows, go for a walk, play sport, shop, work and live in quality and harmony. The Park of Nations (Parque das Nações) is located in the area where the 1998 World Fair was held. It is a large space for public enjoyment that has joined the city and the river. The Vasco da Gama Bridge is the longest in Europe and was inaugurated in 1998; it is the fifth longest bridge in the world, measuring 17 km in length, ten of which are located over the waters of the Tagus.
www.parquedasnacoes.pt
VILA FRANCA DE XIRA
Land of horses and bulls, the municipality of Vila Franca de Xira is a perfect place to visit quintas and farms, and also offers rich regional gastronomy and excellent wines. You will find several places of cultural interest, including the Santuário do Senhor da Boa Morte. This important monument is the oldest sanctuary in the region, dating back to the Roman era. Set on a hillside, the Sanctuary is in a wonderful location, with superb views over the town of Lisbon and the estuary.
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