JOE.B 5

JOE.B

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Lovely Lisbon

Quote-end
15.03.2010

Advantages:
Architecture, History, Culture

Disadvantages:
Quite Hilly for those that aren't good walkers

Detailed rating:

Value for Money

Sightseeing

Shopping

Nightlife

Ease of getting around

Family FriendlyGood

63 Ciao members have rated this review on average: very helpful See ratings
exceptional by (35%):
  1. D_i_a_n_e
  2. MALU
  3. babycougar
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very helpful by (65%):
  1. BristolBud
  2. TheHairyGodmother
  3. InchyInchy
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A City with a Rich History

A few months ago I was lucky enough to visit Lisbon, and my short stay in the city represented my first trip to the Portuguese capitol. As far as capitol cities go, Lisbon is actually quite small in terms of its population, with around two-and-a-half million people in the metropolitan area - compare that to London's estimated 12 - 13 million, and you'll get an idea of the scale. I arrived in Lisbon via the sea, and the city is quite stunning from the water. The huge and bright red '25 de Abril Bridge' looks just like San Francisco's Golden Gate - and passing underneath it is certainly a sight to behold. Similarly, the Vasco da Gama Bridge (located further down the river Tagus) is very impressive, and happens to be the longest bridge in Europe, measuring a staggering 10.7 miles! On the opposite side of the river stands the monument to Christ the King, a large statue of Jesus which was commissioned as a thankyou to the fact that Portugal wasn't extensively damaged in either of the World Wars. At the end of this review you'll find a selection of my photos, one of which shows the '25 de Abril Bridge' with the monument to Christ the King next to it.


Start Your Exploration

A good point to start your exploration of Lisbon is in the Pombaline Downtown area which is overlooked by the impressive Castelo São Jorge. The castle itself is a Medieval construction which is located above a number of squares, each with their own unique character. Of the squares, the Pedro IV (also known as the Rossio) is my personal favourite, with the grand Maria II Theatre at one end, and a statue of Dom Pedro IV in the centre. The square has an amazing wavy black and white tiled floor which makes you go a bit dizzy when you're looking at it - i've shown this floor in one of my photos, but a picture doesn't really do it justice. A winding path at the top leads you to the castle, which, although huge and easy to see from the square, can lead tourists astray on the winding streets which lead up to it. Whilst I was looking for the castle, a scruffy man (who seemed to be injecting himself with some dodgy looking substance) appeared from nowhere and asked me if I was looking for the castle. He then pointed out the correct direction and disappeared back into the shadows - it was quite surreal. Rather than being an unnerving occurrence however, the man was generally very helpful - I certainly couldn't see a drug addict being that useful in London! Unfortunately I didn't manage to take a picture of this person, but believe me, he was less than wholesome.


Just off the Alfama district is the Baixa district which is basically the city centre - this area was destroyed by an earthquake and three tidal waves in 1755, although you can't see any trace of this in modern times. A great tourist attraction in the area is the Santa Justa Lift - an ornate iron elevator which leads to a terrace with a great view of the castle and surrounding streets. One of the most impressive buildings in the city is the Art Deco Eden Theatre with its columned façade, inside which are full sized palm trees! It's like something from Gotham City, and is in stark contrast to the buildings around it (i've added a photo at the end). The main shopping area can be explored easily by foot - although it's quite a hilly city which has a geometrically structured grid of streets that bear a similarity to San Francisco's. These hills make it fairly easy to get tired, and If you do it's easy to hop onto one of the many trams which frequent the area. If you wish, the trams will take you up to Largo das Portas do Sol, a beautiful area which offers one of the most impressive views of the city back down to the river. Here there is a statue of St. Vicente de Fora (Lisbon's patron saint), and also a little hut selling coffee - it's delicious and I recommend you get some. I've added a picture of the view from this area, and it is worth having a look at, as it gives a lovely perspective of the city's beautiful terra cotta roofed dwellings with their whitewashed walls.


History & Climate

In terms of Lisbon's history, the city was ruled by the Romans from as far back as 205 BC, at which point it was already over thousand years old! In the eighth Century Lisbon was captured by Moors, and then in the twelfth Century the Crusaders captured the city for the Christians. There's so much evidence of history everywhere you look, and the architecture and numerous statues really are a joy to behold. However, unlike here in the UK where the historic sites are well looked after, many of Lisbon's monuments are daubed in graffiti which is a shame to see - the figure of St. Vicente de Fora (which I mentioned in the previous paragraph) had an Anarchy symbol sprayed across his face. This may sound like a bit of a generalisation, but I found that Lisbon is quite a heavily grafittied city compared to some of the other European Capitols I have visited.


As it has a Mediterranean climate, the weather in Lisbon is pretty decent, with warm summers and fairy mild winters. During my visit in May, it was pleasant rather than hot, with a few rainy intervals. However warm it is in the day, you should remember to bring a jacket with you as the evenings can get cold quite quickly. Lisbon seems to be one of those places where the weather can change suddenly, with the rain soon replaced by warm sun. Speaking of sunshine, If a beach holiday is more your cup of tea, there are a few coastal resorts close to the city - Estoril, Cascais, and Costa da Caparica are all only a short train ride away, and will suit those who aren't into soaking up the culture. One place to definitely visit is the oceanarium in the Parque das Nações, which is widely considered to be one of the world's best - it's the biggest in Europe, and features more than more than eight thousand fish - impressive!


Final Word

Overall then, Lisbon is a city of restaurants and bars, culture and history. There are a number of galleries to visit, sculptures to view, and marvelous architecture to appreciate. It's a city which needs time to explore, and although you can get a flavour of the area in a couple of days, you need at least a week to fully appreciate it. The city can be explored by foot, and it's one of those places which you can arrive at without a plan - wandering off aimlessly is actually a good way to discover the sights, and there are plenty of wonderful things to experience. The photos which I have included show a selection of the sights that I experienced in the city - look out for the Eden Theatre and the Santa Justa lift which I mentioned in paragraph three - also you'll get an idea of the architectural variety which the city offers. Unfortunately Ciao's ten photo limit means I cant show you as much as I would like to - but you'll get the general idea.


*I have also published a shorter version of this review on dooyoo.co.uk under the username JJJJ*
Pictures of Lisbon (Portugal)
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The amazing wavy tiled floor of the Pedro IV square
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Comments about this review »

D_i_a_n_e 01.12.2010 18:58

Haven't been to Portugal yet, nicely reviewed. xxx

MALU 22.11.2010 10:01

I've just come back from five days in Lisbon at the beginning of November. Lovely!

InchyInchy 24.06.2010 21:03

Great review and fantastic photos

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