lisbon

Jerónimos Monastery - Tower of Belém - Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Monument in honour to the discoveries) - "Pastel de Belém" - MAAT Museum (optional) - Cathedral of Lisbon - Castle of São Jorge (optional) - Viewpoint of Graça (Senhora do Monte)

About the City

On the right bank of the wide estuary of the Tagus river, Lisbon is the capital of Portugal, planted on enchanting hills, with a unique geographical situation, to which it owes its destination of cosmopolitan city.

Its exceptional natural light, which has long inspired writers, photographs and filmmakers, the brightly coloured buildings straddling the slopes, the striking ochre of the roofs, the tiling on so many facades and the narrow twisting alleys of the medieval districts bestow Lisbon with the peculiar atmosphere of a city perched somewhere between the European north and the Mediterranean south.

Throughout millennia, the superb natural harbour of the Tagus was used by traders and seafarers. Lisbon’s long history begins under the Phoenicians as Alis-Ubbo, before becoming the Roman settlement of Felicita Julia Olisipo in the second century.

With the arrival of the Moors from the 8th century, it was renamed Aschbouna. The city fell to the Portuguese in 1147, when conquered by the first king of Portugal, Afonso Henriques. It became the national capital in 1255.

Wandering its distinctive neighbourhoods, taking the tram through historic neighbourhoods, riding the century-old lifts up and down the steep slopes, taking a boat ride on the Tagus, or even jumping on the metro, itself a veritable underground museum of contemporary Portuguese art, there are so many means to discover the great diversity and cultural depth that Lisbon has to offer.

To the west, close to the mouth of the Tagus, visit Belém with its gardens and monuments to the Lisbon of the Voyages of Discovery now declared UNESCO World Heritage.

Much was rebuilt after the 1755 earthquake. A regular, symmetrical plan was established for the “Baixa (Downtown)” opening it up to both the light and the river. There, you will come across the traditional commerce. There is also the seductive appeal of the Chiado; a neighbourhood evoking the bourgeois tastes of 19th century Lisbon. To the east, the Parque das Nações (Park of Nations) concentrates a huge range of leisure facilities and features the Oceanarium.

By night, the traditional neighbourhoods fall under the spell of Fado, the melancholic style of Portuguese folk music, while a younger crowd flocks to lively, stylish bars of the Docas, down by the river, or the Bairro Alto, adjoining the Chiado.

Lisbon of the Discoveries

Of all Lisbon, Belém Belém most clearly evokes the era of the Discoveries and Portugal´s maritime expansion. It was from Belém that caravels would depart and arrive throughout the 15th and 16th centuries. King Manuel I ordered the construction of the Monastery of Jerónimos (Hieronymos) and the Tower of Belém as symbols of the wealth and splendour of the times. Classified as World Heritage, they are among the very best examples of the “Manueline” architectural style; a Portuguese interpretation of the gothic. In the buildings that used to serve the monastery, there is now the National Museum of Archaeology and the Naval Museum including exhibits explaining and demonstrating the navigation techniques developed by the Portuguese for their voyages of exploration.

In the 18th century, King João V chose to transfer the royal residence to Belém. This subsequently involved the restoration of the Palace and constructing stables. The latter have now been turned into the National Coach Museum with the “pink” palace converted into the President of the Republic´s official residence.

In 1940, on the grounds of commemorating the founding of the Portuguese nation, the Salazar regime decided to hold an “Exposition of the Portuguese World”. This resulted in substantial changes being made to Belém including the creation of the Praça Afonso de Albuquerque, in honour of the first Vice-Roy of India, the Praça do Império (Empire Square), the Monument to the Discoveries and walkways and leisure facilities along the river.

The Church of Memória (Memory), the Chapel of São Jerónimo (Saint Jerome), the Tropical Gardens, the Belém Cultural Centre and the Museum of Ethnology complete the range of attractions contained in this district. 

Nowadays, neither the port nor the beach of ´Discoveries´ remain but instead there is a most pleasant leisure and cultural space which is an extremely popular destination for Lisboners when out strolling. No visit to Belém would be complete without stopping off in the Casa dos Pastéis de Belém, (Belém Pastry Shop) which has been producing this sweet delicacy for well over one hundred years.

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  • Rua Alexandre Braga, nº 29, 3º Esquerdo
    1150-003 Lisboa
  • info@acctours.pt
  • +351 912 892 897

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