My journey through memories: Lisbon
“Que amor è este que me faz ir e voltar, Lisboa?”
This is the phrase that can be read on one of the walls of the famous Miradouro da Graça. Yep! “What love is this that makes me go back and forth, Lisbon?”. Lisboa is not a city like any other, this is understood right away: the capital of Portugal is a city of magical light, a city of great contrasts, a city that has repeatedly had to recover after the fires and earthquakes that, in centuries, they tormented it.
Arc de Triomphe
My memory trip can only start from the city center: Baixa. One of the most important districts in all of Lisbon, the Baixa is certainly the most pleasant place to walk around. Here through an intricate maze of streets you arrive on Rua Augusta, full of historical buildings in which are located some of the most famous pastry shops where you can taste the famous pastéis de nata. From here, do continue to the Praça do Comércio, the main square of Lisbon on the banks of the river Tagus, commissioned by the architect of the city: the Marquis de Pombal. Absolutely unmissable, for photographers and not, is the ascent of the Arc de Triomphe, it is definitely majestic with its 30 meters of height from which you can enjoy the view of the Praça.
Igreja do Carmo
From the narrow streets leading to the Praça do Comércio, you go up to Chiado: here are the suggestive ruins of the Igreja do Carmo, built in the fourteenth century and now home to the homonymous museum, as well as the “A Brasileria” café, famous for being the favorite meeting place of Ferdinando Pessoa, the greatest Portuguese poet of all time.
From the neighborhood of the Baixa, near the main square, also starts what, today, is one of the symbols of the Portuguese capital: Tram 28, the most famous of the os amarelos, nickname of trams in Lisbon. The ascent is an experience in itself: you will meet lisboetas who go directly to work, you will discover a lots of narrow streets full of shops which sell the typical products of the city. You will pass close to houses from which it is not possible to go out in the moment of passage of the tram.
Miradouro da Senhora do Monte
With the yellow tram you can “comfortably” climb the hills of the city until you reach the Castelo de São Jorge (picture on top) and, above all, the Miradouro da Senhora do Monte from which you can enjoy a gorgeous view across the city.
If you also want to taste the local cuisine, at the foot of the sanctuary hill you will find the famous Cervejaria Ramiro. Here, in a cheerful and informal atmosphere, I ate the best crustaceans of the whole city: crab, maja squinado, giant tiger prawns and shrimp a la aguillo are among the specialties of the place.
25 de Abril Bridge
After the visit of the center, it’s time to move along the banks of the river Tagus for a long walk. Here you can admire the 25 de Abril Bridge built by the same American Bridge Company that took care of the famous Golden Gate of San Francisco. Continuing the walk you meet the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos, where inside you can admire some of the most beautiful azuleijos of Lisbon.
Nearby is the famous Bélem Tower, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Once a part of the city’s defense system, today the building is one of the symbols of Lisbon from whose top, reachable thanks to a claustrophobic spiral staircase, it is possible to enjoy a wonderful view. Here, at sunset, you can take some wonderful photos with the sun going down over the Tagus behind the lovely building. The easel is worth taking with you!
In the Parque das Nações district, a former industrial area redeveloped for the 1988 Expo, is the famous Lisbon Oceanarium. Although it is not comparable to other more renowned aquariums such as that of Genoa, it is still an attraction to take into account if only for the opportunity to walk along an endless pier on the sea to the Vasco da Gama, the largest center of the whole city.
To return to the question with which I had opened my journey through memories: “Que amor is este que me faz ir and turn, Lisboa?”… let me say that it is the love for a city that has literally been able to rise from its ashes, it is the love for a young and modern city that does not forget its glorious past, it is the love for a welcoming and hospitable city like few others in the world…but everyone has the task of finding their own answer! What will be yours?
Where to Stay
Torel Palace is an exclusive boutique hotel that occupies two nineteenth-century palaces, one pink and one blue, perched on one of the hills of Lisbon and accessible from the city’s oldest lift. Located in a verdant area on the Santana hill, it offers breathtaking views of the city and the river directly from the private terrace as well as from the pool, and each guest feels like being in a real retreat far from the metropolis despite being really few steps from the main monuments and attractions of Lisbon.
The Torel Palace is decorated in lovely rococo style and pays tribute to its royal past with rooms in the pink palace that are named after the Portuguese queens while the rooms of the blue palace are named after the kings of the past. It has 26 rooms and suites, all with unique and personalized decorations. In addition to its 26 rooms, Torel Palace offers an independent villa and an apartment. All rooms are furnished with great character and style and embellished with original works of art as well as elegant bed linen; and an important plus of this hotel is that each room is really unique and no two rooms are alike.
Cave 23 is Torel Palace’s restaurant that attracts guests and locals who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, to enjoy a delicious and talented cuisine. The terrace of Cave 23 is one of the favorite places among the locals who choose Torel Palace for sip a good cocktail accompanied by a nice view. Torel Palace has a swimming pool that is a real plus considering the central location of this hotel gem. Set amidst lush gardens, it’s hard to believe you’re in peace and just outside the hotel door, there’s a lively city rich of life and activities.