Historical Center

Rossio

The best way to start up your trip in Lisbon is to visit the old heart of the city, Rossio, first. Rebuilt in 18th century, after the great earthquake of 1755, The Praça Dom Pedro IV is the busiest square of Lisbon. Once used as a cattle market, a public execution center, bullfight arena and carnival ground, today the Praça serves both for the locals and the tourists with its well-known cafés.

In the center of the Praça is the statue of Dom Pedro IV, a Portuguese king and at the end of the square is the Queen Maria II National Theater (Teatro Nacional de Dona Maria II). Across the Theater, behind Rossio, damaged by a fire, is São Domingos Church. The smell of smoke seems to intermittently fill its grey-orange interior and leave its visitors with unusual feelings. When walking in Rossio, Rossio Train Station will catch your attention with its neo-manueline style beautiful architecture. When tired of sight-seeing, don’t forget to stop by in café Nicola to taste Portuguese sweets and pastries. (read more about Rossio)

Baixa

Praça do Comércio

Photographer: José Manuel

Praça do Comércio

Walking down from Rossio is Baixa which displays a lively atmosphere for its visitors. The Praça dos Restauradores commemorate Portugal’s independence from Spain. Surrounding buildings, which were rebuilt after the Great Earthquake by the order of Marques de Pombal, reflect the architectural taste of the end of 18th century, and wide boulevards remind 19th century of Paris. Although it was once a very popular commercial center and nowadays it seems to have lost its fame, its old fashioned shops still continue to exist; Rua do Ouro (Gold Street) for jewelers and Rua dos Sapateiros (Shoemakers Street), traditionally for shoemakers.

Attention to all the visitors: the Tourism Office is located here.

When descending Rua Agusta, a significant shopping street, on the first street on right will lead you to the Santa Justa Elevator. This elevator provides a spectacular view of the Baixa quarter.

In the end of Rua Agusta is Praça do Comércio (check for hotels near Praça do Comércio). The Praça was built in the end of Baixa, because Marques de Pombal wanted a wide square that stood out in Europe. All the streets in Baixa will lead you there. Here the bronze statue of Dom João I (18th century), the Rua Augusta Arch (19th century) and a symbol of Portugal’s imperial power Terreiro do Paço can be observed. The Praça today serves as the headquarters of several Portuguese government ministries and also as fairgrounds for concerts and exhibitions. (read more about Baixa)

Chiado and Bairro-Alto

Elevador da Glória

Photographer: Maurits van der Hoofd

Elevador da Glória (Bairro Alto)

Although it is in a walking distance, Chiado can be reached from Baixa by elevator. From the upper terrace, a narrow walkway will lead you to Igreja do Carmo, dating 1389, which had been destroyed by the Earthquake of 1755 and although attempted to reconstruct, it was left in ruins.

Following Rua Garret, passing shopping zone, is Largo de Chiado. Great spot to rest and perform the tradition: having a drink at “A Brasileira”, a café frequented by Fernando Pessoa, now, in order to commemorate his tradition, has a statue of him.
Returning through São Carlos Theater will lead you to Chiado Museum where an important collection of Portuguese art dating from 1820 up to present is exhibited. (read more about Chiado)

Climbing further through Rua Garret, passing Largo de Camões, will lead you to Bairro Alto. Mostly occupied by intellectuals, artists, idealistic university students, and not to mention tourists, Bairro-Alto, with its innumerous range of restaurants, fado houses, cafés and bars, is the most appealing cultural center of the city. It is a place that never sleeps, promising an enjoyable night to its visitors. Bairro Alto is not only restaurants and bars, but also a great zone for shopping eccentric and trendy clothing. Most of such shops can be found in Rua do Norte.

Other attractions in the zone can be listed as: Igreja de São Roque, Parque São Pedro de Alcântara, Parque Príncipe Real, and Jardim Bontánico. (read more about Bairro Alto)

Alfama

With its narrow passages and vantage points, Alfama is one of the oldest and most typical quarters of Lisbon that blends Roman and Moorish architecture. This medieval quarter is the only neighborhood that survived the Great Earthquake of 1755. Through climbing up Rua Madalena, near Praça do Comércio, on the right is the Largo Madalena where Igreja da Madalena can be visited. Following Rua Santo António da Sé through tram lines allows one to see significant attractions of Alfama. One of those is Igreja de Santo António da Sé, built in 1812 and dedicated to saint. Further is Sé Catedral, built in 12th century on the ruins of the Moslem mosque and is designed in a late-Romanesque architectural style with a gothic chapel. Continuing the way further up to Castle, one of the best vantage points, Miradouro de Santa Luzia and Miradouro da Graça, can be seen. These little gardens promise a spectacular panoramic view over Lisbon.

Near the top of Alfama is Castelo de São Jorge (check for hotels near St. George's Castle). Built by the Visigoths in the 5th century and enlarged by the Moors in the 9th century, the Castle demonstrates the early history of the city, while offering to its visitors an excellent panoramic view of Lisbon and Tagus River.

Other attractions around Alfama can be listed as Museu das Artes Decorativas, Igreja de São Vicente de For a, Igreja de Santa Engrácia, Museu Nacional do Azulejo and Convento Da Madre de Deus. (read more about Alfama)