Reconstructed after the 1755 earthquake in accordance with an ultra-rational plan devised by the Marquis de Pombal, Lisbon’s Baixa (or “Lower”) district is a rectilinear grid of streets at the base of the city’s main valley. Many of the shops that were opened during the earliest days of the neighborhood’s rebirth are still in operation. We checked out 22 of these “lojas com historia” (“shops with history”) during a long day spent exploring Baixa.
One of the most photographed sights in Lisbon is the Santa Justa Lift, connecting Baixa to the Bairro Alto. Built at the turn of the 20th century, this eye-catching Gothic elevator is still in use, although it’s currently more for tourists than for locals.
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 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.