Lisbon: A walk around the best sites of the capital of Portugal!
Portugal and its capital city, Lisbon, are one of the best walking and cycling destinations in Europe, if not the world. Thanks to its incredible history, beautiful landscape and amazing architecture, let yourself wander in the narrow streets of the old town of Lisbon, enjoy a ride on its iconic n°28 and n°15 tramlines and discover the amazing rythms of the "Fado"! A Portugal walking tour or a Portugal cycling holiday will definitely allow you to experience the true side of the Portuguese culture, land and people!
But, What are the top three sites to discover in Lisbon?
The Alfama neighbourhood
The Alfama, is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, and it is also considered to be the « spirit » of this city, as its building, display, colours and history has been a witness of the different times of this city : from the Moorish domination to the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, discover that neighbourhood by foot or bike to understand what makes this part of Lisbon so culturally and historically important. Witness of the changes that sometimes-overwhelmed Portugal and its capital city, the Alfama might just be the highlight of your Portugal walking tour or Portugal cycling tour. Birthplace of the Fado, where singers intone the saudade (mixed emotions of nostalgia, sadness and hope) of the daily life conditions of the poorer people that lived in Lisbon. During the Salazar dictatorship, the Fado was censored by the government who wanted to restain "Fadistas" to sing about social issues and living conditions under Salazar. The Fado is something that should be at the heart of your Lisbon walking trip as it is a incredible aspects of the Portuguese, and more precisely Lisbon’s, culture.
The Mosteiro dos Jeronimos
This monastery, built in the beginning of the 16th century has become one of the most emblematic sites in Lisbon, if not Portugal, thanks to its incredible architecture that blends late gothic and Renaissance elements with religious, regal and naturalist symbols. Built following the orders of King Manuel 1 of Portugal as he wanted to build a pantheon for the dynasty created, the Avis-Beja dynasty, this monastery was built where another church used to stand. Located in the southern part of Lisbon, at the time it was in fact in the outskirts of the Portuguese capital, this monastery is an incredible display of exceptional sumptuousness and immense size, that lead to this edifice to only be completed a century later! No less than 4 renowned architects succeeded to oversee the building of this masterpiece of a building.
Witness of the Portuguese Golden age, the construction of it was financed with the pepper tax that was in place at the time, that taxed merchants with good that came from North Africa and the Middle East.
Built at the beginning of the 16th century at the mouth of the Tagus, this tower is defence tower that had been commissioned by King John II as part of a new defence system of the mouth of the Tagus and Lisbon.
High of 35 metres, it is an incredibly ingenious defence system that contributed greatly to the defence of the city, thanks to its four stories (with two for the casemate where the guns could shoot from). Its architecture, influence by Moroccan and Moorish architecture, as it was built by the Military Architect Francisco de Arruda, who supervised the construction of many forts in the Portuguese territory of North Africa. Since 1983 it is a World heritage site and it has, in 2007, been added to the Seven Wonders of Portugal, along its neighbouring monastery, the Jeronimos Monastery.
Great example of manuelian and military architecture, the Belem tower is definitely a must-see site when enjoying a Lisbon walking tour or a Lisbon cycling tour.