Lisbon: the only european capital on the river and on the sea

Wednesday 3, August 2011


Lisbon: the only european capital on the river and on the sea


With some great beaches...but did you also know...?


Opera - the city’s opera season starts this September and runs until next June – performances are in the beautiful Teatro Nacional de São Carlos with its Rococo interior – tickets usually cost 50% less than in London


Earthquake and the Marques de Pombal – the Great Earthquake of 1755 almost destroyed this most important of Europe’s ports. The destruction of the city and the death of 40,000 people led to the end of Lisbon’s golden age. The Marques de Pombal was the minister responsible for rebuilding the city and there is reference to him in many places – usually just “Pombal”


Locals and the magic light before sunset – in the hours before sunset, locals often wait and watch the ferries go between the Estação Fluvial and Barreiro on the other side of the Reiver Tejo – it is tradition


The museum below – the Nucleo Arqueologico is one of the city’s smallest but truly eclectic museums and is located underneath the Baixa’s streets.  The Baixa area was mostly rebuilt on a riverbed with wooden posts driven into the wet soil (as in Venice). You can see this together with the exhibits – Roman fish tanks, Moorish ceramics and a 5th century Christian burial place – through glass floors or narrow alleyways – all under the modern BCP bank building. These remains were found during building work on the bank


Enoteca is underground too – this is an amazing wine bar located downstairs in an old bathhouse where the underground tunnels once piped all of Lisbon’s water


Ravens – these birds are one of the city’s symbols.  The story goes that when the remains of Saint Vincent were brought to Lisbon in 1173 by sea, the boat was piloted by ravens.  Thereafter ravens were kept in the cloisters of the Baroque Treasury until the last one died in 1978 – but the symbol remains


Did the Portuguese invent tea-time? – the São Vicente de Fora church is a reminder of the sixteenth-century city and is open to visitors. Among the tombs is that of Catherine de Bragança, the widow of Charles II of England – and she is said to have introduced tea-time to the British


Tram number 28 – everyone knows about it. The most famous tram and one of the city’s best rides. Built in England in the early 20th century, polished wood and chrome, they clunk up and down the steepest streets almost brushing the sides of buildings on the way. Starting at sea level in the city centre, the tram heads up steep hills through a veritable maze via the Alfama district, reaching St Georges Church at the top for wonderful views – especially at sunset


Casa do Governador – once the Governor of Lisbon’s house – now a shop selling black/white postcards of old Lisbon, fado (and other) CD’s and ceramics


Lux – once a meat warehouse on the docks and now one of Europe’s top clubs - visitors include Prince, Cameron Diaz and Madonna. This rooftop terrace has amazing views with several bars.  Nobody arrives before midnight


Fado bars (fado means fate) – and lots of them. Fado is thought to have derived from music from the 18th century when immigrants from Portugal’s colonies settled in the Alfama district.  Think love, death, fate etc.


Classic funicular lifts – there are several of them including the Elevador da Bica  up to the hillside district of Bica and the Elevadir Panoramico da Boca that lifts you 30 metres up a cliff face to the old part of Almada for fabulous views across the city and the river


Beaches – in addition to the beaches of Sintra, Cascais and Estoril which are easily reached, Lisbon has her very own city beaches at Carcavelos and Guincho – both an easy bus ride. Beaches and a capital make Lisbon a truly special place


Golf in the city – there are 24 excellent golf courses close to Lisbon with a couple of them just a 15 minute drive from the centre – something special for a capital


Tavares – Lisbon’s oldest restaurant is all gilt and mirrors and boasts fantastic modern Portuguese cuisine and a Michelin star


The birthplace of tarts – the famous Portuguese custard ones.  The Casa Pastéis de Belém is where they were invented.


Sidecar tour – guests at the Four Seasons Hotel Ritz (one of Lisbon’s best hotels) can see the sights in an unusual way. You get a personal driver-guide and are whizzed around in your own sidecar


Ponte 25 de Abril – The 25th of April Bridge may look familiar? It looks like the Golden Gate in San Francisco. It opened in 1966 to link Lisbon with the south banks of the Tagus (Tejo) river. Over 2 kilometres long and the main pillars are almost 200 metres tall. One lane is made of wire mesh – allowing the bridge to expand as necessary


All change at the docks – the Alcantara district by the bridge in the new nightlife hub since bars, clubs and restaurants exist in old converted warehouses


For further information on Lisbon Tourism visit



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