On the first day of our tour in Lisbon RennyBA and I explored the city on our own in the daytime, and later met up with Lele Batita and her husband for a memorable dinner together. The dinner has been well documented by RennyBA and I recommend you visit his post. We went to a unique restaurant and had a meal we won’t soon forget.
Our first day on many of our trips we find a tourist bus which can give us background information and show us around the local area. We joined the local hop on hop off trip of Lisbon’s center which gives us a panoramic sightseeing tour of all the major tourist attractions, and helps us get a taste of what we would like to see more of. We could easily spend a couple weeks in Lisbon, having only five days we can’t see it all, so here you have to pick and choose and remember that you can always come back another time.
Here is just a little bit of what we experienced the first day discovering Lisbon on our own! The bus tour took us first up the “Champs-Elysees” of Lisbon Avenida da Liberdade which is crowned at the top by Marquês de Pombal Square, a monument to Lisbon’s rebirth, the statue of Marquês de Plombal honors the prime minister who was responsible for the rebuilding of Lisbon following the Great Earthquake in 1755. The Great Earthquake did extensive damage to Lisbon, and we can enjoy many of the older sites today because of the choice to rebuild them and keep their heritage rather than destroying and replacing with new structures. So we salute the Marquês de Pombal as well.
Opposite the statue Parque Eduardo VII, a park named after Britan’s Edward VII who visited Lisbon in 1903 and reaffirmed the Anglo-Portuguese alliance. Typical for this park is its neatly clipped box hedging flanked by mosaic patterned walkways. The park stretches uphill from Marquês de Pombal Square to a belvedere at the top with fine views.
Along the bus route we also saw Campo Pequeno’s bullring which was built in Moorish style in 1892. It features small cubolas atop its four main towers. The bullring accommodates up to 9,000 spectator, and I might add that the bull is not killed in the bullfights in Portugal as it is in Spain. The building appears quite modern, so I admit I was surprised to learn it was as old as 1892.
Mostly hidden behind its high pink walls we got a glimpse of Belem Palace. This is the official residence of Portugal’s president since 1910. It previously has been a royal palace built in 1559 and further altered and built out in the 18th century by King João V.
Crowning the river and facing out to see we find the famous Discoveries monument. A newer structure it was built in 1960 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Prince Henry the Navigator. The monument resembles a three sailed ship ready to depart and decorated with sculputers 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, at the bow we see Prince Henry the Navigator holding a ship in his hands.
At Restauradores Square we find an obelisk decorated with representations of liberty and freedom. Restauradores does not mean restaurants, although there are no lack of them here, it means restorer of the Independence. On the 1 of December in 1640, a group of nobles killed the regent of Portugal which then was under the control of Spain for a period of 60 years. In killing the regent at the time they restored Portugals freedom as an Independent nation. So it is called “restauradores” because they gave Portugal its Independence back!
Figueira Square we have a fine view up to St. Jorges Castle. Close to the center is a bronze equestrian statue of King João I, usually smothered by flocks of pigeons and surrounded by teenage skaters as it was when we visited it. Here on the south side we had a taste of some of Lisbons wonderful pastries at the charming Confeitaria Nacional, considered to be one of Europe’s most elegant pastry shops dating back to 1829.
Rossio is the liveliest square in the city, where people stop to sit and relax, or for a drink at the outdoor cafes. While we were visiting they were setting up the Christmas display which we would visit the last evening we were in Lisbon. On both sides of the square are baroque fountains, and in the center is a monument measuring 27 meters in height. It consists of a pedestal with marble allegories of Justice, Wisdom, Strength, and Moderation. The monument at the time was flanked by cranes which were setting up the decorations which is the reason why I don’t have a photo of the entire square. However I could not resist getting a close up of one of the gorgeous fountains, each figure on these was a work of art in itself.
Lastly I set in a youtube video which is sightseeing tour of Lisbon so you may experience for yourself. It is even accompanied by some traditional Fado music, which you may read more about at RennyBA’s Terella.
All of the sights on the video are places we have been. We did a good job with excellent hosts in such a short period of time. Some of them we will go deeper into, and therefore are not included now, but saving some good stuff for later!!