Portugal has been on our bucket list for many years. In fact, it was one of the first places we ever talked about visiting when we first got together over 35 years ago. So we were very excited about finally getting to visit this beautiful country. It certainly took us a long time to get there, but it was definitely worth the wait. We arrived in Lisbon last Tuesday, in time for dinner at a lively, outdoor cafe.
Lisbon has been an important seaport for centuries due to its location at the mouth of the Tagus River, and its proximity to the Mediterranean, Africa, and other locations in Europe. It is one of the oldest cities in Europe, dating back to between 800 – 600 BC. The city suffered severe damage in 1755 when an earthquake hit the area, followed by a fire, and then a tsunami (talk about adding insult to injury). The devastation was widespread and severe, but rebuilding occurred quickly, leading to the old town area and beyond, that exists today.
My first impressions were warm, welcoming people, beautifully tiled inlays in buildings and sidewalks, lively atmosphere, great food, buskers everywhere, and lots of hills. Like Rome, Lisbon was built on seven hills, so you’ll do a lot of climbing, but the views of the surrounding area are totally worth the effort.
One of Lisbon’s most prominent features is the suspension bridge that was designed by the same company that designed the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, CA. It is the longest suspension bridge in Europe, and was originally named the Salazar Bridge, after the nasty dictator, António Salazar. After he and his government were overthrown on April 25, 1974, the first order of business of the new government was to rename the bridge Ponte 25 de Abril.
Castelo de São Jorge, located on the highest hill in the city, is a beautiful place to visit. Dating back to around the 10th century, it is believed that Celtic tribes, Romans, Phoenicians, and Moors once occupied the area. The castle ruins and gardens are a beautiful place to stroll.
There is ongoing archaeological activity at the site to learn more about the history of the area. You’ll find interesting artifacts here.
Lisbon is also known for its historic streetcars. Streetcars in Lisbon date back to 1873, when the first trolleys, pulled by horses, started transporting passengers (on level streets) around the city. Electric versions were on the streets by 1901. Tram 28 is the most popular since it passes many of the famous landmarks in the city. I actually saw two men riding on the outside of a tram as it made its way up a steep hill.
And as always, one of my favorite things is to wander around town snapping photos.
And of course we had some delicious meals.
We stayed at Dear Lisbon Palace Chiado Guesthouse which was absolutely impeccable. Centrally located, our room had a view of the Castelo de São Jorge, and the river. It was roomy, comfortable, and came with an amazingly presented and equally delicious breakfast.
We had just four days in Lisbon, not enough time to see all this amazing city has to offer. We will visit again another day.
We also visited Sintra, and Funchal on the island of Madeira while in Portugal, more on these beautiful locations in the coming weeks.
Have you been to Portugal? If so, what are your favorite places to visit there? As always, I would love to hear from you.
Wishing you grand adventures,