During our first month in Lisbon, we lived in Mouraria. The ascent to our apartment required the lungs of a deep sea diver and the legs of a cyborg, and although the trek always destroyed us, we had to concede that it could be worse. High above us, the residents of another neighborhood sneered at our exhaustion. While gasping for oxygen, we’d shake our fists at them. “Maybe not yet, Graça! But we’ll be ready for you soon!”
One of the biggest aquariums in Europe is the Oceanário de Lisboa, which opened as part of the 1998 World Expo. We visited during the holidays, and were amazed to be the only people there! Not a single screaming child, pushy mother or frazzled father; nope, just us, gloriously alone with the animals. (If you’re not picking up on the sarcasm, it’s time to readjust your irony detector.)
Hosted in the former Convent of Bernardas in downtown Lisbon, the Museu da Marioneta features a collection of puppets from around the world, with a special focus on Portuguese dolls. This is an excellent excursion if you’re entertaining a kid, but even adults will find plenty to love.
One of Lisbon’s most popular museums is the Museu Nacional do Azulejo, which introduces visitors to the history of Portuguese tiles within the confines of 16th century convent. Tiles feature in just about every one of our pictures of Lisbon, so we were excited to learn more about them.
Lisbon’s most attractive residential neighborhood might be Campo de Ourique, found to the west of Estrela. Centered around a lively market hall, the block-shaped streets hide a wealth of restaurants and shops, and make the area feel like an independent village hidden within the capital city.
Set inside the sprawling confines of a former manufacturing complex in Alcântara is the LX Factory: a collection of almost painfully cool shops, galleries, restaurants, and offices. We spent an entertaining afternoon poking around the merchandise, browsing a stunning bookstore, and grabbing drinks at a bar on top of the factory.
The oldest and most important church in Lisbon is its cathedral, the Santa Maria Maior. The Sé, as it’s commonly referred to, was built in 1147, immediately after the city was conquered by the Christians. We checked it out after having visited the National Pantheon in the nearby church of Santa Engrácia.
Ever since arriving in Lisbon, we had been aware of the Igreja da Santa Engrácia, with its massive dome capping the skyline of Alfama, and wondered how beautiful the church inside must be. Upon visiting, we immediately realized that, while beautiful it is… a church it isn’t. At least, not anymore. Today, the Santa Engrácia holds the National Pantheon, which honors some of the country’s most prestigious historical figures.