Lisbon – A Weekend Downtown

Lisboa2015 - 60Travelling is what gives me the most pleasure in life, for sure (eating and drinking as well, of course), but that doesn’t always imply leaving Portugal.

Our country is perfect (yes, I know I’m suspicious), it has a bit of everything, beach, river, mountain, countryside, history, gastronomy, nice people, safety and much, much more, the truth is wandering around my country gives me an enormous pleasure!

So, this time we are “travelling” to the capital for a weekend.

Lisboa2015 - 35The view from St. George’s Castle

A few weeks ago we went to Lisbon to try two novelties in the Hotel business, the magnificent PortoBay Liberdade (see) and the astonishing Pousada de Lisboa (see), an opportunity that also allowed us to enjoy one of our favorite cities.

Time was short, and of work (yes, because It doesn’t look like it, but this is not just living the good life!) and so we chose to walk around downtown.

 Lisboa2015 - 55The vision of Marquês de Pombal, patent in the Arco da Rua Augusta (Lisbon’s Triumphal Arch)

Lisbon has an unparalleled history and culture, it went through Neolithic, Roman and Muslim periods and it was reconquered in the XII century, under the command of Afonso Henriques, being since then the political, financial and cultural center of the country. After the earthquake of 1755, the vision of Marquês de Pombal brought the glamour and elegance of the great European cities to Lisbon.

Portobay - 11m

On the day of our arrival it was already late so we stayed at PortoBay, relaxing in the Jacuzzi of Deck7 and later having dinner at Bistrô4 (and what a dinner! – see).

After a well slept night, recharged energies and a breakfast of Kings, it was time to go through the city and discover its essence.

Lisboa2015 - 1Príncipe Real

Those who already know the blog know that we are experts in walking for hours and hours simply enjoying everything around us, whether it is a garden, a monument, a classic building or a more contemporary one, a simple store, a pastry shop, a park, an alley or simply unwinding the route of those with whom we cross.

We love consuming the life each place is able to transmit and that is the most important and enriching of travelling.

Lisboa2015 - 2Príncipe Real

We started in the renewed and nowadays cosmopolitan area of Príncipe Real, well located in the heart of Lisbon, next to the Botanic Garden, the Bairro Alto and just a few minutes walking from Chiado.

This place was once stage for a pig market and the Amoreiras market. Later it suffered a different organization, becoming a square and also a garden; which is nowadays the França Borges Garden.

The garden, with 20 meters of diameter (gorgeous), was conceived according to the romantic English style, and several species of arboreal stand out, with highlight to the enormous Cedro-do-Buçaco (a cedar).

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In the center of the square there’s a lake surrounded by roses, under which lodges the Reservatório da Patriarcal, a part of the Water Museum.

There are also some kiosks, some with a cafeteria service, where we can enjoy the agitated life of Lisbon in a brake moment of ours!

Around the garden we can observe palaces from the XIX century, like the Palacete Ribeiro da Cunha, of neo-Arabic style. On Saturdays you can’t miss the Bio Market of Príncipe Real where many famous chefs supply themselves.

Lisboa2015 - 4Very close to this garden, moreover, once upon a time fed by the Reservatório da Patriarcal, we find one of the places that assures a breathtaking view over Lisbon, the viewpoint of São Pedro de Alcântara.

This beautiful location is inserted in a garden with a small lake, with a landscape magnificence that transports us far away. Here we can see the east of the city, and the south margin of Tejo.

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Right next to the viewpoint we have the mythical Calçada da Glória, connecting the Bairro Alto to the Praça dos Restauradores through its elevator, which is a delight to any photographic lens!

Here were held, a century ago, cycling events, the so called Subida à Glória, which was now resumed in 2013.
This wonderful elevator work dates back from 1885, by Raoul Ponsard, a Portuguese engineer of French origin, responsible for many other projects of the same gender. Once, this crossing was made at candlelight, but later in 1915 it became electric.

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We thought of descending with the lift but since we wanted to grab lunch in the area of Príncipe Real we stayed up here and went walking through the streets and alleys of Bairro Alto, which, by the way, are much calmer during the day. Although I love the frantic evenings of this neighborhood, it is also nice to discover it during the day and get to know its true origins and people.

Lisboa2015 - 12Street Art at Bairro Alto

Without destination we discovered each narrow alley, with different bars and restaurants, with stores and secular buildings and also trying to imagine what the nights would be like in that place back in the XVI century.

lisboa2015- - 1xxCertainly as fun as nowadays, moreover, everything points to this being a place of prostitution, but also, already in the XX century, a place of the bohemian Lisbon, attended by artists, writers and journalists, besides it was the headquarters of many newspapers.

A Cevicheria - 1Already very tired and hungry (something that insists on happening to me all day long, unfortunately!), we went back to Príncipe Real for a visit to the restaurant of the young and brilliant Chef Kiko Martins, A Cevicheria, we rested and delighted ourselves with a lunch that stayed in our memories (see).

Ready to continue and with a less cultural and futile desire, we decided to go shopping, and what better place to do it?!
I know, there must be numerous, but we chose the huge and famous Avenida da Liberdade, to my regret Porto is missing an avenue like this, reuniting all the great brands, but of course Porto has other enchantments (I don’t want a war in the comments between Lisbon and Porto!).

After the earthquake in 1755, Marquês de Pombal ordered the construction of Passeio Público in the area where nowadays is located the inferior part of Avenida da Liberdade and Praça dos Restauradores. Initially it was surrounded by walls and gates through which only passed members of the high society. However, in 1821, King D. João IV ordered the destruction of the walls so that everyone could freely walk through the Passeio.

The avenue, as we see it today, was built between 1879/1882 to the style of the Champs Elysees in Paris and is nowadays stage for processions, festivities and manifestations, always keeping its elegance, with fountains and amazing terraces above the trees.

It connects Praça dos Restauradores, South, to Praça do Marquês de Pombal, North.

Lisboa2015 - 53A Ginjinha – one of Lisbon’s classics

We continue to go down the avenue and finish in the idyllic Praça dos Restauradores, praised by its obelisk with 30 m of height, reminding us of the liberation of the country from the Spanish domain in 1640.

Lisboa2015 - 54Rossio train station

Close to this square we have one of the most beautiful areas downtown, Rossio or D. Pedro IV Square, with the wonderful Rossio Station spreading its charm.

Of course, in the most important areas of the cities was once a hippodrome, during the Roman period (how I love this history details!), and it was also once navigable in the medieval era, due to an affluent of Tejo. It was the place of markets and fairs, surrounded by important buildings, but the earthquakes kept destroying everything and the reconstructions built what we know today.

This square, once a place for meetings of important names like Bocage, already lived it all, from bullfights, fairs, parties, festivals, beheadings and hangings, military parades, courtesan parties, popular revolutions and a myriad of events.

These days we can see moments of history, like for example the Statue of D. Pedro IV (twenty-eighth King of Portugal and the first Emperor of Brazil) at National Theater D. Maria II, and the imposing Rossio train station, of Manueline style.

Lisboa2015 - 25Chiado

On with our tour, there is a place in Lisbon I cannot miss whenever I visit, Chiado; The most elegant, bohemian and cosmopolitan neighborhood in the city.

In 1856, with the creation of the literary guild, Chiado became the center of the Portuguese Romanticism, and mandatory stop for those wanting to see and be seen in the city.

In 1988, on the morning of August 25, there was a huge fire in the Grandela building that took huge proportions and destroyed part of Chiado, a time when it completely decayed, being revived during the 90’s with Siza Vieira’s design.

Lisboa2015 - 26Fernando Pessoa is the right company at the table of A Brasileira

Some of the great Portuguese literature names are immortalized in statues at Chiado, like the famous statue in bronze of Fernando Pessoa, seated in a bench of the A Brasileira cafe.

Just walking around this place is a praise to our senses, but to those who visit with a bit more time, there’s a lot of places to see, S. Luiz Theater, São Carlos Theater (the only Opera theater in Portugal), the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Baroque churches – the Loreto Church and the Church of Nossa Senhora da Encarnação, Largo do Carmo with the Carmo’s Archaeological Museum, the famous Santa Justa Lift and the Church of Ordem Terceira de Nossa Senhora do Carmo, among other interest spots.

Lisboa2015 - 52Santa Justa Lift

We finished the day in the agitated Cais do Sodré, among restaurants and bars, but since we no longer have the ability to endure the night life (at least not today), we chose the Time Out Mercardo da Ribeira and stood upon the confusion of picking up the place to eat, and what to eat (I always want to taste everything! Ok, almost…).

Lisboa2015 - 18After a bit of indecision our choice went to Prego da Peixaria, which João already knew and of which I became a fan!

The market was already beautiful; it didn’t lose its original design, only gained a new dynamic.

   Lisboa2015 - 19       Lisboa2015 - 20       Lisboa2015 - 21With a full belly, we finished our day getting to know the idyllic Pousada de Lisboa, who could ask for better?!

Pousada de Lisboa - 33mRoom with a view over Terreiro do Paço

Perfect night, even more perfect breakfast, and on we go to another day wandering around Lisbon’s downtown.

Those who read our article about the Pousada de Lisboa know it is located in the former Ministry of Internal Affairs, at Terreiro do Paço, and it was right here we started our day.

Lisboa2015 - 57This place, also named as Praça do Comércio, one of the biggest in Europe, was once the location of the palace of the kings of Portugal, for two centuries; nowadays it is occupied by ministries.

This plaza is the fundamental element of Marquês de Pombal’s plan after the 1755’s earthquake that destroyed the former Royal Palace, which had a library with 70 thousand volumes and hundreds of art pieces, namely by Titian.

Lisboa2015 - 32Here took place some of this country’s most important developments, from the end of the Iberian Union, the murder of King D. Carlos and his son, the 1910 revolution and the proclamation of the Republic, the Revolt of the Armed Forces Movement in 1974, among others.

Besides the wonderful arcades, which make the connection between the different buildings of Praça do Comércio, the most emblematic is, perhaps, the Triumphal Arch of the Augusta Street and the statue of D. José I.

The perfect meeting of Terreiro do Paço and the Tejo River is one of the exponents of the city.

Lisboa2015 - 61Ribeira das Naus Terrace

The heat felt that day (why doesn’t Porto have this weather?) was intense and so we were forced to stop and rest for a while, for that we chose the recent Ribeira das Naus Terrace, in the renewed Ribeira das Naus Avenue, the view is the best we could ask for, we just had to pick a table and recover with a fresh drink.

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From this point we went up by Rua das Flores headed to the Taberna da Rua das Flores, the already mythical establishment of André Magalhães (the Portuguese gastronomic Wikipedia), for a lunch with one of the most interesting people in Lisbon we had the happiness to meet, André Ribeirinho, founder of the project Adegga (see).

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At lunch the experience at Taberna is very different from dinner, with a shorter offer and more comforting and less creative dishes, so we leave this amazing space to another article, during another visit to the capital.

Tabernaruadasflores - 5 Hake Cataplana 

We ate a lot and well, starting by the amazing Salmorejo, a fresh cheese from Queijaria das Romãs, the veal entrecôte with celery puree, the cataplana (fish stew) and of course the amazing Chocolate mousse with olive oil and salt flower.

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After a great lunch, we went up to Largo de Camões, with its imposing statue of the poet in the center, and went straight to Manteigaria, like our weekend was short we couldn’t go to Belém, so we opted to buy here the divine Pastéis de Nata (Portuguese custard cups), under penalty of being punished by our family if we arrived home without this amazing treat!
Truth be told, these don’t lose to the famous pastéis de Belém.

manteigaria - 1The delicious pastéis de Nata from Manteigaria

Before heading to Porto there was another place I didn’t want to miss, the Cathedral and Castelo de São Jorge (St. George’s Castle), I just visited them as a child and I wanted to revisit.

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This also meant wandering around the oldest and most typicalof Lisbon neighborhoods, Alfama.

This peculiar and popular neighborhood is one of the most beautiful and safest in Lisbon, almost like a little village; its restaurants, Fado houses and the Popular Saints festivities make it one of my favorite neighborhoods.

Lisboa2015 - 29As to Lisbon’s Cathedral or Church of Santa Maria Maior, its construction started in the second half of the XII century after the city being taken of the Moors by D. Afonso Henriques, most likely in this place was located a mosque, it combines different architectural styles, the Romanesque, the Gothic and the Baroque.

Those who know me also know my passion for sacred art, and every time I have the chance to enter a church I do so. In this one I was even lucky enough to have an immediate first degree meeting with the famous Joaquim de Almeida!

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From here we then started to climb (and climb a lot) to St. George’s Castle.

Its name comes from the devotion of the castle to St. George, patron saint of knights and the crusades, ordered by D. João I in the XIV century.

Lisboa2015 - 37m

But don’t be fooled if you think its medieval aspect is due its perfect state of conservation, because unfortunately that’s not what happened.
Over time, the castle, as well as the several military structures of Lisbon, was remodeled several times, and in the XX century it was in an advanced state of ruin. During the 40’s several works of reconstruction were held, lifting up most part of the walls and heightening the towers.

Lisboa2015 - 41However it is still monumental that this place is the most high of the hills in the historical center, allowing one of the best views over the city and Tejo.

Lisboa2015 - 45 This terrace has certainly one of the best Sunset views in Lisbon

And yes, we can imagine stories of kings and queens, of fights and games, wars and triumphs!
The Castle has paid entrance and costs eight Euros, but it is worth it, having one of the most idyllic scenarios of the sunset in Lisbon.

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As much as this weekend was well enjoyed, it was for sure not enough, reason why we must return to Lisbon as soon as possible! There is so much to do in this town, so much culture, so many restaurants, markets, stores, so much life… I could easily visit Lisbon once a month.

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For those of you that go with more time to visit I advise you to make the most part of our tour in a different way, through the Eléctrico 28 (tram), the most famous in the city. Pick it up quite early in the morning, to avoid lines, at Basílica da Estrela, and live the history and nature of the city through the windows of this picturesque transportation.


You can do the whole journey from one end to another, or leave in different stops, enjoying every place in particular. For that you have individual tickets or the 24 hours cards, choose the option that suites you the best.

Well, I can only conclude that no matter how much I travel outside Portugal, it continues to be one of my favorite countries to discover!

Where to Stay
Pousada de Lisboa
PortoBay Liberdade

Portuguese Version

Text: Cíntia Oliveira | Text: Flavors & Senses

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