Hello Lisbon! Finally, I made it to Portugal … but it has been very long time, ca 29 years, since this place has been on my Travel Bucket List. And it felt good to see the city from above, to see this amazing view of Lisbon’s sunset from my airplane’s window… The sunset over the Atlantic Ocean and Tagus River (Rio Tejo) … A luscious cocktail for the eyes and foretaste of what is to come!
The very first thing that we did right after landing in Lisbon was to find the Lisbon Card Info counter. Especially, when you have 2 to 3 days to explore Lisbon, it is definitely recommendable to invest in a City Card (24h, 48h, 72h) in order to get the most out of the city: much easier, cheaper and more convenient.
There are so many advantages for the visitors with Lisbon Card as it actually is a 3-in-1 city card: transport card (unlimited free travel by bus, metro, tram, city elevators and discounts on airport shuttle bus), museum pass (Lisbon´s best museums and attractions free of charge) and discount card (malls and nightlife) at the same time. You can use the city card not only for the public transport, but also you can make a free trip to Cascais and Sintra (you can find more information about Cascais and Sintra below) by train:
NEYA Lisboa Hotel
Our lila-green-themed boutique Hotel NEYA was absolutely lovely! NEYA is located in one of the best city neighbourhoods, in only 5 minutes walking distance to the next Metro Station and all-in-all 10 to 12 minutes from the city centre of Lisbon. Our room was gorgeous, the service was excellent and we had the best hotel breakfast ever!
“Urban and contemporary hotel with a climate of tranquility and comnfort. Ideal for city breaks and business trips. NEYA Lisboa Hotel”
Rooster of Barcelos
The very first hours of walking through streets of a new city are always exciting as I tend to keep tabs on pretty everything on my way. Of course I become curious when I noticed several gardens with free walking tiny cockerels on my way to city center. Later on, we saw them everywhere in the small gift shops as various, brightly coloured souvenirs – as pottery models, ceramic forms, embroidered on towels, printed on clothes, as key rings and many others. But why are they so popular? The bright rooster, called Galo de Barcelos, is one of the national unofficial emblems of Portugal. It is symbol of honesty, trust, honour, integrity and personification of the Portuguese endless love of life. Of course, the rooster is supposed to bring luck to you and your home. You can see many free walking roosters in the Campo Mártires da Pátria Garden.
The Jerónimos Monastery
I was sooo curious about this place as it looked magical on each picture I saw on internet! And yes, it was magical!
The Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon was built in the 15th century and is probably the most formidable symbol of Portugal’s power and wealth during the Age of Discovery. In the year of 1502, Mosteiro dos Jerónimos was founded by King Manuel I with the idea of having an excellent monument that celebrates the success of all Portuguese conquers and voyages around the world.
The Jerónimos Monastery, with its magnificent architecture, has magnetized artists, travellers and writers during the 500 years of its existence. Since 1983, the Gothic monument is declared as a “World Heritage Site” of UNESCO. Nowadays, its architectural style is famous as “Manueline”: a combination between multi-cultural details (e.g. the Biblical story of Joseph, sea monsters, etc.) and maritime motives (sea creatures, sea plants, coils of rope, etc.), which symbolize the great Portuguese discoveries of this age.
But why “Jerónimos”? The name actually comes from “Hieronymites” – the monks of the Order of Saint Jerome, who had mission to provide a spiritual support to the Portuguese sailors who were travelling and conquering the new world, as well as to pray for the King’s lordship and soul. The monastery has always been of great importance for the city of Lisbon, as it even becomes a burial place for kings and important people from the Portuguese history (the tombs of Vasco da Gama, King Manuel, King Sebastião, etc.).
As “lonely” visitors, we were lucky to be here in November! But between June and September you’ll be supposed to wait for hours on a very long queue to get inside the monastery. With or without waiting, the The Jerónimos Monastery is a must-visit place for travellers, as well as for cultural and architectural lovers!
Torre de Belém
After 10 minutes of walk from Jerónimos Monastery (and making some snaps in the Pavillion of Princess Maha Chakri in the Belem Garden), you will reach another famous landmark – the Tower of Belém. Lisbon’s renowned symbol is situated along the Tagus (Tako) riverbank and again – it is one of the architectural wonders built during the reign of Manuel I between the years of 1514 and 1520. Francisco de Arruda, a famous architect known for his Gothic architecture in Manueline style, was the architect of this building.
Similar to Jerónimos Monastery, here you can find a lot of maritime details and symbols of Vasco de Gama’s discoveries. A mixture between gothic architecture, biblical motives and Moorish-influenced watchtowers (inspired by Portugal’s strongholds in Morocco) makes the Belem Tower absolute unique! The Tower of Belem was part of the Tagus defence system for very long time. Since 1983 it is listed by UNESCO as “Cultural Heritage of Humanity”. And for the locals is still a symbol and cultural reference to Portugal’s power and wealth and for travellers – Torré de Belém is definitely a must-see!
It has been a long, long day … And at the end of it, all that we did is to buy a bottle of (excellent!) Portuguese red wine, some local cheese specialities and roasted chestnuts (Castanhas Assadas) from the street – and enjoy! Enjoy the precious time in Lisbon! … And I already knew – this won’t be my last time here …
Have you ever been to Lisbon?! What is your absolute favourite place or activity in this beautiful city? You can share your experience in the comments
Enjoy the day!