Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Lisbon Sightseeing

Lisbon sights and sounds from Santa Justa viewpoint to lively Rossio Square, beautiful Belém Tower, impressive Jeronimos Monastery and gigantic Padrão dos Descobrimentos.

Lisbon spreads across steep hillsides that overlook the Rio Tejo. The city is the 7th-most-visited city in Southern Europe, after Istanbul, Rome, Barcelona, Madrid, Athens and Milan.

Elevador de Santa Justa was built in 1902 and it is the only vertical lift in Lisbon for public service. It was built by the architect Raoul Mesnier du Ponsard, with a cast iron structure, enriched with filigrana details. The viewpoint of Santa Justa offers magnificent 360-degree-views of the city.

It's a Spritz time at Café do Elevador de Santa Justa.

The National Theater building at Rossio Square is the best representative of Neoclassical architecture of Palladian influence in Lisbon. The main feature of the façade is a portico (hexastyle) with six Ionic columns reused from the Saint Francis Convent of Lisbon and a triangular pediment. The tympanum of the pediment is decorated with a sculpted relief showing Apollo and the Muses.

Lisbon operates a delightful tram network of quaint old trams that lurch and screech around the narrow streets of the capital. No visit to Lisbon is complete without taking a ride on one of the classic pre-war Remodelado trams that pass through the Alfama district. 

Ginjinha - or simply Ginja - is a  a typical Portuguese liqueur made by infusing ginja berries in alcohol. The price for a shot is 1,30 euros at Cafe ‘A Ginjinha’ at the corner of Rossio Square.

Pedestrian street Rua Augusta and the Rua Augusta triumphal arch.

Comercio Square is a vast waterfront square also known as Terreiro do Paço or "the palace's square,". It is where the royal palace stood for over two centuries until 1755, when it was destroyed by the Great Earthquake. 

Built in 1515 as a fortress to guard the entrance to Lisbon's harbor, the Belem Tower was the starting point for many of the voyages of discovery, and for the sailors it was the last sight of their homeland. 

The architect, Francisco de Arruda, had previously worked on Portuguese fortifications in Morocco, so there are also Moorish-style watchtowers and other Moorish influences. 

The Discoveries Monument was built on the north bank of the Tagus River in 1960 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Prince Henry the Navigator.

The monument represents a three-sailed ship ready to depart, with sculptures of important historical figures such as King Manuel I carrying an armillary sphere, poet Camões holding verses from The Lusiads, Vasco da Gama, Magellan, Cabral, and several other notable Portuguese explorers, crusaders, monks, cartographers, and cosmographers. The only female is queen Felipa of Lancaster, mother of Henry the navigator, the brain of the discoveries. 

The Jeronimos Monastery is the most impressive symbol of Portugal's power and wealth during the Age of Discovery. King Manuel I built it in 1502 on the site of a hermitage founded by Prince Henry the Navigator, where Vasco da Gama and his crew spent their last night in Portugal in prayer before leaving for India. It was built to commemorate Vasco Da Gama's voyage and to give thanks to the Virgin Mary for its success.

The Casa Pasteis De Belem is the traditional home of the delicious Pastel de Nata, that is the staple food of the sweet toothed Portuguese. The chaotic cafe and bakery has been selling Pastel de Nata for since 1837. 

The Franco-Swiss author Blaise Cendrars called railway stations "the most beautiful churches in the world," and Rossio station could be a perfect example of it. It is one of the strangest architectural complexes housing a rail terminal in Europe, and today it is the local station for trains to Sintra.

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