Lisbon is renowned for its architectural splendor presented in many of the old and modern buildings,as well as recognised cultural heritage carefully preserved in museums and art galleries.
We will explore the three most centrally located districts of Lisbon:Baixa,Bairro Alto and Chiado. Two hours of walking and discovering Lisbon life. Here we go :
1.Praca do Comercio
Regarded as the Gateway to Lisbon and Portugal,the Praca do Comercio was once the main commercial hub of the city where the wealth from the colonies was brought to enrich the city and the country. It is a large U shaped square facing the Tagus River.
The Praca do Comercio is popularly known as Terreiro do Paco or Palace Square. This is because it is on the site of the former royal Ribeira Palace. The Palace and surrounding buildings were copletely destroyed by the earthquake of 1755. The area was rebuilt as a square under the aegis of Marquis of Pombal. The square was renamed Praca do Comercio,the Square of Commerce,to indicate its new role in the economy of Lisbon. Architect,Euginio dos Santos designed the square in a U shape. A large sculpture stands at the center of the square with the figures of Vasco de Gama and the Marquis de Pombal among others. When Portugal was a flourished colonial power,all the govenrment and port offices and commercial buildings were located around the square.
Today,the tourist office is located at the Placa do Comercio. It is also the site of the oldest cafe in Lisbon,the Martinho da Arcada,a wel known meeting place of artists,writers and politicans.
2.Mude – Design and Fashion Museum
Mude,which means change in Portuguese,is the name given to the Design and Fashion Museum in Lisbon. It has an impressive collection of design and fashion classics from the 1930s to the present.
Mude is located in the Palacio Verride,an eighteenth century palace thay later bacame a bank. The old vault of the bank that was installed nearly 80 years ago is still located in the basement. It became the Design and Fashion Museum in 2009. In keeping its name exhibits,Mude keep changing with new themes and new design displays at different times.
3. Santa Justa Lift
The Santa Justa Lift is a lift in the City of Lisbon situated at the end of Rua de Santa Justa. It connects the lower streets of the Baixa with the higher Largo do Carmo. The Santa Justa Lift was designed by Raul Mesnier de Ponsard. Construction began in 1900 and was finished in 1902;originally powered by steam,it was converted to electrical operation in 1907. The iron lift is decorated in neogothicstyle,with a different pattern on each storey. The top storey is reached by helicoidal staircases and has a terrace that offers views of Lisbon Castle,the Rossio Square and the Baixa neighbourhood. There are two lift cages,each with a woden interior and accomodation for a maximum of 20 passengers. The lift has become a tourist attraction in Lisbon as,among the urban lifts in Lisbon,Santa Justa is the only vertical one.
The Carmo Convent was ruined by the devastating earthquake that shock Lisbon in 1755. The ruined Structure stands atop a hillock overlooking the busy Rossio Square and faces the Lisbon Castle Hill. A well known Knight, Nuno Alvares Pareira,who was the Supreme Commander of the Army next to the King commissioned the building of the Carmo Convent in 1389.At the time,it was the largest Convent in Lisbon. After the earthquake,the ruined Gothic structure was put to many uses. It became military barracks and later wood was stored in the building.
Today,Carmo Convent houses an archelogical museum. Exhibits displayed include tombs,mosaics,statues and ceramics. There are Visigothic Pillars,the remains of a Roman Tomb,a jasper figure of the Virgin Mary,South American Mummies,Spanish Moorish Azulejos and Visigothic artifacts and coins that date back to the thirteen century obtained from excavations by the Accociation of Portuguese Archeologists.
5.Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara
The Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara is a small well laid out park that serves as one of the many viewpoints found around Lisbon. It offers a spectacular view over the central part of the city,especially St.George Castle and the Graca Hills.
The Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara is laid in two levels. It has a map made of tiles to help visitors in spotting landmarks they see from the viewpoint on the horizont. The upper part of the park has a fountain and a monument in honor of Eduardo Coelho. He was the founder of the newspaper, ”Dario de Noticias”. Near the monument is the figure of an Ardina or newspaper boy who sold the paper in the streets of Lisbon. At the lower level,there are flower beds and busts of famous Portuguese heroes,Greek Gods like the Goddess Minerva and heroes like Ulysses. There is also a beautiful small waterfall built into a walled archway in this part of the garden.
The park has benches where visitors can relax and take in the view and a small cafe serving refreshments. The Port Wine Institute lies opposite the Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara where visitors can sample over 300 different types of port.