In her song, Lisboa Antiga, Amália Rodrigues described Lisbon as full of charm and beauty, always smiling and beautiful, but not always sweet with its white veil of saudade. Such a city of antiquity makes it difficult to write about briefly because its depth of beauty and diversity is almost endless. Read on for a small taste of Lisbon’s districts.
Belém, with its infamous landmarks, is known as Lisbon’s most historical district. It was from Belém that the great Portuguese explorers embarked on their many journeys. The monuments, Belém Tower, Jeronimos Monastery are at the top of visitor’s viewing lists. But that list would be incomplete without also visiting world-class museums such as MAAT. Known as the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology, it represents Lisbon in a unique way with the building’s architecture standing as a symbol of the local maritime history and doubling as a fantastic miradouro (scenic viewpoint) over the Tagus River. View Portugal (and Europe’s) history in a different way by visiting the Coach Museum. This museum houses a large collection of horse drawn coach wagons owned by European aristocracy and royalty from the 17th to the 19th-centuries. These are just two of the several museums worth visiting in Belém.
Lisbon has beauty for the eye of every beholder with variety everywhere. The variety can be seen from one district to another and sometimes even within the same district with the passing of day tonight. Such is the case in Bairro Alto. This is the only district in Lisbon that transforms itself drastically between its daytime and nighttime face. Bairro Alto has been dubbed the bohemian district with luxury shops and hip stores. During the day, it’s a quiet neighborhood for shoppers of all ages. When the sun goes down, the streets turn into a full festival. Bairro Alto welcomes all to celebrate the fun all night long in its many restaurants, bars, cafes and fado houses
Next to Bairro Alto is another of Lisbon’s districts often said to be Portugal’s Paris. Chaido, with its cafes, theatres, museums, and Chaido’s Rua do Carmo church, presents an elegance in its own unique style. Known for its luxury. But that’s not all it’s known for. No visit to Chaido is complete without taking advantage of the views from the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcántara. From there, visitors enjoy wonderful views of Baixa, the Tagus River and the hill with São Jorge Castle on the summit.
Alfama is Lisbon's most symbolic district thanks to its medieval alleys and outstanding views. Because it survived the earthquake of 1755, it appears as if time has stood still for Alfama’s residential neighborhoods. Its narrow streets, old churches, whitewashed houses with wrought-iron balconies testify to a time when this little village housed famous poets, novelists and was the inspiration of many fado lyrics. While Lisbon’s other districts hold magic, it’s Alfama that has a quality most visitors can’t put into words.
And then there’s Baixa. This central district is often referred to as the heart of Lisbon. With its wide avenues and breathtaking plazas, it’s been completely rebuilt since the earthquake of 1755 destroyed it. As one of, if not the, busiest of Lisbon’s districts, Baixa has many stores and restaurants. Beginning with Praca dos Restauradores (Restaurant Square) and ending with Praca de Pombail (Pombail Square), it gracefully transitions from old Lisbon into what most consider modern Lisbon.
Whether visiting modern or old Lisbon, by day or at night, time spent in this beautiful city provides visitors with memories of enchantment that remain long after the visit is over.
From your friends at Rooster Camisa, happy sightseeing!
Padrão dos Descobrimentos