Lisbon For 91 Days

The Tower of Belém

Erected in the early 16th century to as a bulwark against incoming threats from the Atlantic, the Tower of Belém is today a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of the city’s most famous and popular landmarks.

The Museum of Decorative Arts

Set within a 17th-century palace across from the popular Miradouro das Portas do Sol, a viewpoint that looks over Alfama and the cruise ship docks, the Museu de Artes Decorativas (also called the Fundação Ricardo do Espírito Santo Silva, or FRISS) introduces visitors to the exquisite furniture and design of Lisbon during the Age of Exploration.

The Feira da Ladra: The Thieves’ Market

Held on Tuesdays and Saturdays on the sloping hill behind the Monastery of São Vicente da Fora, the Thieves’ Market, or Feira da Ladra, has a history stretching back to the 13th century. Today, we assume that the sellers have cleaned up their act, but the market is still a great place for those looking to make a steal.

São Vicente da Fora

We were surprised to learn that the patron saint of our adopted hometown of Valencia, San Vicente Martir, is also the patron saint of Lisbon. Although he’d never visited Portugal in life, his mortal remains were brought here in 1173. We visited the ancient church and monastery named in his honor, set on a hill in Alfama.

A Concise History of Lisbon

As Western Europe’s oldest city, it almost goes without saying that Lisbon would have a fascinating history. This was the de facto capital of the European Age of Exploration, and has lived through both tremendous heights of wealth and power, and abysmal lows. Here’s a concise rundown of the most important events in they city’s story.

The Royal Palace and Gardens of Ajuda

After the earthquake of 1755, the Royal Palace was moved from Praça do Comércio to more stable ground. The neoclassical Palácio da Ajuda would be the occasional home of Portugal’s royalty until the end of the monarchy. We visited the palace, and also the neighboring botanic gardens.

The Castelo de São Jorge

If a city can be said to have a birthplace, Lisbon’s is the massive stone bluff which soars over the Tagus River Basin. This hill was home to the earliest humans to populate the area, and has served as a fortress and a castle for centuries of Romans, Moors and Christians. Today, the remains of the Castelo de São Jorge serve mostly tourists, who show up in droves to take in the best views in the city.

The Museum of the Geographical Society of Lisbon

A gem hidden in plain sight, the Sociedade de Geografia de Lisboa has been operating for almost 150 years, in a beautiful hall in the center of Lisbon. It’s worth stepping inside to see the ethnographic collection cobbled together from around the world, as well as to check out the elegant headquarters of the society.

The Basilica and Jardim da Estrela

The Basilica da Estrela lies west of the Baixa, in the upscale neighborhood of Lapa. Built by the Queen of Portugal to fulfill a promise to God, the church sits atop a hill, with a giant dome that’s visible throughout Lisbon. We visited both it, and the adjacent Jardim da Estrela on an overcast Sunday.

Welcome to the Mouraria

The neighborhood of Mouraria will be our base of operations during these 91 days in Lisbon. Ranged along the hill east of the center, underneath the shadow of the Castle of São Jorge, this has historically been the city’s most ethnically diverse section. We took a long self-guided tour, to get to know our new home a little better.

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