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Stop At: Mosteiro dos Jeronimos, Praca do Imperio Belém, Lisbon 1400-206 Portugal
Mosteiro dos Jerónimos
On the banks of the Tagus is an apogee of Manueline architecture.
In the spot where the Jerónimos Monastery stands today, next to the old Belém beach, was originally a small hermitage dedicated to Santa Maria that had been built by the Infante D. Henrique, in 1452. At the start of the 16th century King Manuel I’s intention to have a large monastery erected there was acknowledged by the Holy See, and which was donated to the Order of the Friars of St. Jerome. The epitome of Manueline architecture and intrinsically linked to the Discoveries, this monastery is the most remarkable Portuguese monastic ensemble of its time and one of the main European churches.
Construction on it began in 1501, lasted for a hundred years and was spearheaded by a remarkable group of architects and master builders both national and foreign. With an initial design by Frenchman Boytac, the work was continued by other Masters, namely João de Castilho and, in the middle of the century, Diogo de Torralva. After the arrival of the Portuguese in India, the Portuguese crown was able to fund the venture with money coming from trade with the East. King D. Manuel I channelled much of the so-called "Vintena da Pimenta" (a ‘Spice Tax’, approximately 5% of revenues from trade with Africa and the East, equivalent to 70kg of gold per year) to finance construction work.
In this monument, classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, it is worth noting the facades, the church and the cloisters. On the south facade, one can admire the portal painted by João de Castilho, where the figures are arranged according to a specific hierarchy: below, Infante D. Henrique guards the entrance, the Virgin of Bethlehem blesses the monument, and Archangel Saint Gabriel, the protector of Portugal, completes the arc. The western portal, through which one enters the sacred space, is the authorship of Nicolau Chanterenne. To the left, protected by St. Jerome, is the statue of King D. Manuel, which is said to be a realistic portrait, and to the right is that of Queen D. Maria, his wife, protected by St. John the Baptist.
Inside there is the church-hall, a Manueline masterpiece by João de Castilho. Note how, in a remarkable architectural achievement, the beautiful vault of the transept is not supported by any columns. At the entrance, after the lower-choir, are the cenotaphs of the poet Luís de Camões, author of the epic poem "Os Lusíadas", and of Vasco da Gama, commander of the armada that in 1497 went to India. The kings, princes and descendants of D. Manuel I are buried in the side chapels. In the main chapel, later reconstructed by Jerónimo de Ruão, are the tombs of D. Manuel I, his son D. João III and their wives. Worthy of special mention is the solid silver tabernacle, a work of Portuguese silversmithy from the mid-17th century.
Duration: 2 hours
Stop At: Pastéis de Belém, R. de Belém 84-92, 1300-085 Lisboa, Portugal
At the beginning of the Nineteenth Century, in Belém, next to Mosteiro dos Jerónimos (the Heironymite Monastery) there was a sugar cane refinery attached to a small general store. As a result of the 1820 liberal revolution, all convents and monasteries in Portugal were shut down in 1834, the clergy and labourers expelled.
In an attempt at survival, someone from the monastery offered sweet pastries for sale in the shop; pastries that rapidly became known as ‘Pastéis de Belém’.
At that period the area of Belém was considered far from the city of Lisbon and mainly accessed by steam-boats. At the same time, the grandeur of the monastery and the Torre de Belém (the Belém Tower) attracted visitors who soon grew used to savouring the delicious pastries originated in the monastery.
In 1837, the baking of the “Pastéis de Belém”began in the buildings attached to the refinery, following the ancient ‘secret recipe` from the monastery. Passed on and known exclusively to the master confectioners who hand-crafted the pastries in the ‘secret room’, this recipe remained unchanged to the present day.
In fact, the only true ‘Pasteis de Belém’ contrive, by means of a scrupulous selection of ingredients, to offer even today the flavour of the time-honoured Portuguese sweetmaking.
Duration: 30 minutes
Stop At: Torre de Belem, Avenida Brasilia - Belem, Lisbon 1400-038 Portugal
Torre de Belém
The harmony and delicate ornamentation of the Tower of Belém suggests a finely cut jewel to all laying eyes on her. However, its contemporaries took a rather different perspective: a formidable and imposing bastion defending the entrance to the Tagus and capable of combining firepower with the St Sebastian tower on the other bank of the river. Its construction was ordered by king Manuel I (1495-1521) and it was built by Francisco de Arruda between 1514 and 1521. The tower was built on a basalt island that was close to the right bank of the Tagus in front of Restelo beach. However, with the gradual change in the course of the river, the tower has ended practically swallowed up by the bank.
The tower takes on a quadrangular shape reminiscent of medieval castles and has a polygon bulwark, a defensive feature that meant it could withstand heavy bombardment from out at sea. The watch posts, complete with burgeoning cupolas and located on each corner, demonstrate the influence of Moroccan fortifications. Apart from such Moorish influences, the decoration otherwise takes on the Manueline style in the surrounding stone layouts, the heraldic designs and even the famous rhinoceros, the first stone statue of the animal in Europe.
The most highly decorated side of the Tower is south facing, with its narrow balcony. On the cloistral wall that rises above the bulwark, there is a sculptured image of the Virgin with Child dating back to the 18th century, forming the prow of the tower.
The interior is worth a visit simply to get up to the top floor with the effort paid back many times over by wonderful views over the river Tagus estuary and the western side of a city that is still able to evoke the Era of Discovery in Portuguese history.
In 1983, the Tower of Belém was classified World Heritage by UNESCO.
Duration: 30 minutes
Stop At: Padrao dos Descobrimentos Avenida Brasilia Belem, Lisbon 1400-038 Portugal
Padrão dos Descobrimentos
The imposing Monument to the Discoveries stamps its mark on the riverside at Belém. It was designed in 1940 to commemorate the "Exposition of the Portuguese World", promoted by the Salazar government to celebrate the eighth and third centenaries of the founding and restoration of the Portuguese nation (1140 and 1640 respectively). However, it was only built in 1960 for commemorations marking 500 years since the death of Prince Henry the Navigator. Designed by architect Cottinelli Telmo, it features the work of sculptor Leopoldo de Almeida.
52 metres in height, the monument symbolises a caravel, headed by the figure of Prince Henry the Navigator followed by a cortege of 32 leading figures from the Era of the Discoveries including, for example, king Afonso V (1432-81), the driving force behind the first discoveries, Vasco da Gama (1460-1524) who discovered the maritime route to India, Pedro Álvares Cabral (1467-1520), who discovered Brazil and Fernando Magellan, who completed the circumnavigation of the globe in 1522, among others.
The façade facing down to the ground takes on the form of a cross decorated by the Sword of the Order of Aviz, the main financial sponsor of the voyages.
Duration: 30 minutes
Stop At: Parque Eduardo VII, Av. Sidonio Pais, Lisbon 1070-051 Portugal
Parque Eduardo VII
Gardens, Parks and Forests
The Eduardo VII Park lies in the Parish of São Sebastião da Pedreira, north from Avenida da Liberdade, and offers panoramic views over the city. Originally known as Parque da Liberdade, the gardens were rechristened with the name of the British King Edward VII on his visit to Lisbon in 1903.
Since their earliest times the gardens have been a stage for fairs, exhibitions and various types of entertainment. Their design, with a central swathe of lawn flanked by Portuguese cobbles pavements, was by Keil do Amaral, and form one of the landmarks in the development of Lisbon.
Here we can find a Sports Pavilion built in 1932 in the João V style, renamed the Carlos Lopes pavilion as a tribute to the famous Portuguese athlete, a Greenhouse with an enormous variety of plants from all over the world, lakes, and various statues including a bust of King Edward VII and a monument to the 25th April Revolution by João Cutileiro.
There is also a children´s playground, a viewpoint, a bandstand, a picnic area, the Club VII sports complex with tennis courts, gymnasium and swimming pool, and a restaurant.
Duration: 30 minutes
Stop At: Rossio Square, Lisbon 1100-026 Portugal
Praça do Rossio
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Praça do Rossio
Reborn out of the wreckage of the 1755 earthquake, this lovely Lisbon square marks the northern reach of the Pombaline Downtown. It stretches out in a quadrilateral form dominated by the neo-classical harmony of the D. Maria II Theatre, built on the site of the former House of the Inquisition.
According to the Marquis of Pombal, the Praça do Comércio would be the centre-point of the city and symbol of the new social order he wished to create for the Nation.
However, as time moved on, it was Rossio, a bright and welcoming square, which established itself as the bourgeois forum for Lisbon.
The square took on life with its hotels (now disappeared) that were filled with travellers, stores and tobacconists. There was also no short supply of that very Portuguese institution - the café. These would be the forums for talk, conspiracy, politics and the arts.
Life has long since changed, but Café Nicola (on the western side) and the Pastelaria Suíça (the eastern) remain to bear testament to times gone by.
At the centre is the 28 metre high column that was erected in 1870. On top is king Pedro IV who holds the Constitution in his right hand.
Two monumental fountains were added in 1889, where florists now set out their wares.
To the south, observe how the gracious arc forms the connection with the Rua dos Sapateiros. It is a fine piece of Pombaline architecture from the end of the 18th century with ornamental embellishments including a fine window with its veranda opening out onto the Square. Its construction was paid for by businessman Pires Bandeira and later became known as the Arch of Bandeira.
The entire square recently underwent a complete makeover restoring the splendour of the original Portuguese cobbling with the central area featuring a combination of blue and white stones tracing the waves of the sea.
Duration: 30 minutes
Stop At: Rua Augusta Satna Maria Maior, Lisbon Portugal
The heart of Lisbon - From the Praça do Comércio to the Praça do Rossio
This route takes you through the Pombaline downtown, the zone of Lisbon that was reborn in the 18th century after the devastating earthquake of 1755. It was rebuilt according to an original layout as can be easily observed.
Begin in the Praça do Comércio, the great visiting room of Lisbon, opening up generously onto the wide Tagus estuary.
Then, take the Rua da Alfândega passing the Welcome Center of Lisbon, a modern reception facility to provide a warm greeting to all visitors to the Portuguese capital. Inside, there is a Tourism Post for answers to all your questions on Lisbon.
In front, there is the Praça do Município, that has the city´s pillory at its centre and is flanked by the Paços do Concelho (Royal Council Building) building, a work of unquestionable architectural value.
Return to the Praça do Comércio and head down the pedestrianised Rua Augusta (under the triumphal arch), with shops crowding either side and the middle given over to inviting esplanades.
In Rua Santa Justa (the final road crossing Rua Augusta before reaching the Praça do Rossio) take a turn to the left and the Santa Justa elevator. Go up to the top floor for some of the best views out over the sloping, distinctively ochre coloured roofs of downtown Lisbon with the blue strip of the Tagus over in the distance.
Head back down and finish your stroll in Rossio, the square that used to be the political and social forum for Lisbon.
Duration: 1 hour
Stop At: Praca do Comercio (Terreiro do Paco), Avenida Infante Dom Henrique 1C, Lisbon 1100-053 Portugal
Praça do Comércio
This is one of the most beautiful squares in all Europe, opening southwards onto the huge Tagus estuary.
Until the era of mass aviation, this was Lisbon´s great reception hall for visitors arriving by sea even better able to enjoy its beauty from their vantage points on slowly docking vessels.
It was at the dock here that the Kings and Heads of State would disembark when visiting Portugal.
Prior to the 1755 earthquake, it was called the Terreiro do Paço (Royal Yard). The Royal Palace had been sited on the western side of the square since the 16th century when king Manuel transferred the court down from the Castle of São Jorge (St. George).
In 1580, Filipe I of Portugal ordered the building of a new square with the work the responsibility of Filippo Terzi and Juan Herrera (the architect responsible for the Escorial).
Everything was destroyed by the earthquake. The name Praça do Comércio (Commercial Square) belongs to the Pombal era and represents the new social order that the minister to king José I wanted to favour and promote: the trading, financial and bourgeois classes that had contributed so much to rebuilding the city.
In the geometric centre of the Square, and facing the river, there is a statue of José I, mounted on his horse Gentil, the work of sculptor Machado de Castro.
It was unveiled with all due pomp and circumstance on 6th June 1775, the king´s birthday. He discreetly viewed the event from one of the windows in the Customs building. The celebrations lasted three days and included a gigantic banquet for all the people of Lisbon.
On a pedestal by the riverside, there is a likeness of Pombal (removed when the minister fell into disgrace but replaced by the Liberals in 1834) raised onto the royal shield. The sculpted figures on either side represent Triumph, with a horse, and Fame, with an elephant, in a clear allusion to Portugal´s overseas possessions. On the rear side of the pedestal, in low relief, there is an allegoric representation of royal generosity towards a city in ruins with Commerce opening up a chest full of money that is placed at the disposition of this royal generosity.
Underneath the northern arcade, right by the entrance to Rua do Ouro, make sure you stick your head into the Martinho da Arcada café-restaurant. This is a reference for the city and a most cultured destination.
Before heading up Rua Augusta, which leads onto Rossio, take a moment to look at the Triumphal Arch which overlooks the thoroughfare.
Duration: 30 minutes
Pass By: Lisbon Cathedral, Largo da Sé, 1100-585 Lisboa, Portugal
Sé Catedral de Lisboa
Dedicated to the Mother of God since 1147.
Dedicated to the Mother of God, Lisbon Cathedral is one of the city's gems and one of the most significant monuments in the country, due to its historical, religious and artistic value. Its construction began in 1147, when the first king of Portugal, D. Afonso Henriques, reconquered the city from the Moors. It was built on a Muslim mosque - which in turn, as the archaeological excavations confirmed, had been built on a previous Visigothic Christian temple.
Although the city had already been a bishopric since at least the fourth century, and still had a Christian bishop at the time of the Christian Reconquest in the 12th century, the English crusader Gilbert de Hastings was appointed to this role and works were started under his guidance. The first architect was Mestre Roberto, a Frenchman likely of Norman origin, who also worked on the construction of Coimbra Cathedral and the Santa Cruz Monastery in the same city. At the time, D. Afonso Henriques, the first king of Portugal, ordered the relics of the martyr St. Vincent de Zaragoza to be brought from the Algarve and placed them in the Cathedral.
The original building followed the canons of the Romanesque style, but between the 13th and 14th centuries it suffered its first changes. During the reign of D. Dinis, the cloister was built, in Gothic style. Later King D. Afonso IV ordered the construction of the ambulatory for his family pantheon, which made the Cathedral more apt to receive pilgrims who came to see the relics of St. Vincent. The ambulatory gave rise to ten chapels that have various names, some of them linked to the Virgin: the Chapel of Our Lady of Penha de França, the Chapel of Santa Ana, that of Saint Mary Major, and that of Our Lady of the Conception.
In the 17th and 18th centuries, work was done in Baroque style, particularly in terms of decoration on the altars and in the main chapel. During the first half of the 20th Century, the Cathedral’s medieval character was restored.
Inside, the chapel of Bartolomeu Joanes, an important bourgeois of medieval Lisbon, should be visited; excavations of the cloister exposed the successive occupations of this area. Although much of its former estate is preserved in museums (such as the Museum of Ancient Art), the Cathedral includes a collection, called the Treasury of the Patriarchal See, which can be visited.
Pass By: Miradouro de Santa Luzia, Largo de Santa Luzia Alfama, Lisbon 1100-487 Portugal
The Mirador de Santa Luzia has a wide view over Alfama and the Tagus River. The characteristic points, from left to right, are the dome of Santa Engrácia, the Church of Santo Estêvão and the two white towers of the Church of São Miguel.
The south wall of Santa Luzia has two modern panels of tiles, one of the Praça do Comércio before the earthquake and another with the Christians attacking the castle of St. George by António Quaresma and manufactured at the Lamego Widow Factory.
Here is the Church of Santa Luzia and São Brás, head of the old commendation of St. Brás of the Lisbon term and current national seat of the Assembly of Portuguese Knights of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.
Stop At: Castelo de S. Jorge, R. de Santa Cruz do Castelo, 1100-129 Lisboa, Portugal
Castelo de São Jorge
The Castelo de São Jorge is one of Lisbon’s most distinctive monuments, being situated on the city’s highest hill.
The oldest known fortification at this spot dates from the 2nd century BC, although some of the remains found here date from as far back as the 6th century BC. Archaeological evidence has also made it possible to discover traces of the presence of Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans and Muslims, confirming the human occupation of this area since very remote times.
The castle itself was founded in the 10th and 11th centuries, when Lisbon was an important Moorish port. In 1147, the first king of Portugal, Dom Afonso Henriques, captured both the castle and the city from the Moors. The castle enjoyed its most important period between the 13th and 14th centuries. It was also here, in the 16th century that the king Dom Manuel I received Vasco da Gama after his sea voyage to India and that the first Portuguese theatre play, written by Gil Vicente, was performed to mark the birth of the king Dom João III.
Declared a National Monument in 1910, the castle underwent major restoration work in the 20th century, which left it with its present-day appearance. It is one of the most important places in the city and a very popular leisure space amongst the people living in the neighbouring area. It is generally agreed to afford the best view over the city and the River Tagus.
Inside the walls, you will find a museum, where you can see a presentation of the history of Lisbon, and the Torre de Ulisses (the Tower of Ulysses). The city’s legendary founder has given his name to the former Torre do Tombo, which now houses a camera obscura with a giant periscope that allows you to enjoy a 360º panoramic view of the city in real time.
Duration: 1 hour
Stop At: Miradouro da Senhora do Monte, Rua Senhora do Monte 50, Lisbon 1170-361 Portugal
Mirador de Senhora do Monte is located in the parish of São Vicente (Graça), in Lisbon.
The belvedere develops in front of the Chapel of Our Lady of the Mount. From it you can see, to the south, the sea of the Straw, the Castle of São Jorge, part of the Baixa of Lisbon and the estuary of the Tagus river, to the west, from the Bairro Alto to the Forestry Park of Monsanto and to the north , the valley of Avenida Almirante Reis.
Next to this belvedere is the small old Hermitage of Our Lady of Monte (classified as Property of Public Interest), founded in 1147 and consecrated to St. Gens, bishop who second the tradition here was martyred. It was in this ancient Monte de São Gens that D. Afonso Henriques installed the camp to conquer the city.
The belvedere is in the churchyard of the small hermitage and was twice refurbished in the twentieth century. Being located in the highest point of the Graça Quarter, it is one of the places with the best panoramic view of the city, especially on the Mouraria and the Castle of São Jorge
Duration: 1 hour