The Jardim do Torel is set high on a hill in the neighborhood of Santo António, and the easiest way to reach it is with the Ascensor do Lavra. Once at the top, the garden and the surrounding neighborhood provide plenty of sights for an entertaining day out.
Located within the old Barbadinhos Pumping Station, the Museu da Agua introduces visitors to the once-painful process of bringing drinking water to the people of Lisbon. The museum’s highlight is its engine room, where 19th-century steam-powered pumping machines have been preserved in magnificent condition.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.