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Castelo de São Jorge is one of the most popular tourist destinations and holds a beautiful vista over the capital. It was part of the battle between the Moors and the Christians in the 1100s which means it is richly steeped in the history of the city. Interestingly, there is a camera obscura periscope in one of the towers which provides the viewer with a unique 360-degree view of the city below the castle.
Mosteiro dos Jerónimos
Located near the river in Belém sits the Jerónimos Monastery. It is sometimes known as the Hieronymite convent and was built in 1501 to honor Vasco da Gama’s 1498 trip to India. It is considered symbolic of the Age of Discovery and is home to Vasco da Gama’s tomb. It is one of the many UNESCO World Heritage sites within the city and worthy of a visit.
Torre de Belém
Situated on the river Tragus, the Belém Tower is a 16th century fortress which was completed in 1521. Another one of the city’s UNESCO World Heritage sites, it is considered a ceremonial monument for Portuguese explorers and is considered an excellent example of the Portuguese Manueline style of architecture. situated on the river Tagus; symbolic of Age of Discovery; built 1515 and completed in 1521; constructed as a fortress; UNESCO World Heritage site.
Elevador de Santa Justa
When walking through Lisbon’s Baixa district, a must-see is the Santa Justa Lift. A prime example of a neo-Gothic elevator, the Santa Justa was designed by French-Portuguese architect Raoul Mesnier du Ponsard, the apprentice of Gustave Eiffel. Inaugurated in 1901, it provides spectacular views of the city.
The Romanesque cathedral known as Sé or the Lisbon Cathedral is located in Alfama. It is well-known for its many redesigns since 1150 due to severe destruction from earthquakes and has led to a unique blend of architectural styles. Not many know but there is also an archaeological dig site within the premises which provide an interesting excursion and unforgettable experience.
Padrão dos Descobrimentos
Known as ‘The Monument’, Padrão dos Descobrimentos is a statue leaning on the river Tragus which was built in 1940 as an honoring of the 500 year anniversary of the death of Henry the Navigator. It features many of the country’s famous explorers such as Vasco da Gama, Fernão de Magalhães and Pedro Álves Cabral. The sheer scale of the statue will make you feel in awe of the history it represents.
Igreja do Carmo
Also known as the Carmo Convent, the Igreja do Carmo is one of the oldest churches in the city. It was significantly damaged by an earthquake in 1755 but its ruins do not diminish from the beauty that still stands. Walk through the roofless church and marvel at the Gothic architecture that has survived the test of time and visit the archaeological museum built to provide further information and history on the space.
Igreja-Museu São Roque
Found in Bairro Alto, the Church and Museum of São Roque were founded by the Jesuit Order in the late-16th century and commissioned by King João V in 1742. The Renaissance façade hides the rich interior of one of Lisbon’s most stunning religious sites. The Capela de São João Baptista is a must-see on your trip into the city.
Palácio dos Marqueses de Fronteira
Built in 1640 originally as a hunting lodge, the Palace Fronteira was later refurbished into its current state. It is one of the best places other than the Museu Nacional do Azulejo to see 17th century azulejos in their natural habitat. It is not a proper museum, but tours of this private estate are available to the public. The gardens of the palace are beautiful and can be visited without a guide; however, should you wish to learn more, there are monthly walks through the garden guided by art Historian Ana Paula Rebelo Correia.
Aqueduto das Águas Livres/Mãe d’Agua das Amoreiras
This stunning Gothic aqueduct was previously off-limits until it was recently when it was opened for the general public to visit. It previously supplied the city with water in 1748 with water from a spring in the north. It spans the Alcantara Valley and visitors are now able to walk the 14 km length or view all 35 of the 65 m tall eye-catching arches. If you want to know more, there is also a museum nearby that you can visit to learn about the history of the aqueduct’s construction and use.
Basílica da Estrela
Famous for its white limestone dome which sits in stark contrast to the classic red tiled roofs common in Lisbon, the Basilica da Estrela, or the Star Basilica, is one of the city’s most iconic churches. Situated on a hill to the west of the city center, it was commissioned by Maria I, the daughter of King José I and was completed in 1790. Maria I was also buried within the walls of the city. If you are lucky enough to visit during the winter holiday season, the church is famous for its Nativity scene crafted out of cork and terracotta by Machado de Castro. However, if you come during warmer months, be sure to pack snacks since the beautiful public park in front of the church is great for a picnic on a sunny day.
Oceanário de Lisboa
If you are searching for a fun activity for a family of all ages, then look no further. The Oceanário de Lisboa is one of the largest aquariums in the world and was built in 1998 for the World Exposition. It sits within the Parque das Nações and has a unique architectural setup which is made to represent the four separate sea and landscapes of the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian and Arctic oceans. It was built to promote marine environmental awareness and ocean conservation.
Museu Calouste Gulbenkian
Notably one of the most famous art museums in Europe, the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum sits in a park north of the city and is named after an Armenian oil magnate who gave his private art collection in its entirety to the country of Portugal shortly before his death in 1955. One supposition of the donation was the creation of a foundation with a purpose-built arts complex. The collection is vast and spans artifacts and artworks surrounding a period of 4000 years from ancient Egypt all the way to the late-20th century.
Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga
A popular tourist stop, the National Museum of Antique Art is Portugal’s national gallery and houses the largest collection of 15th and 16th century Portuguese paintings in the country. Found west of the city center, the museum is hosted in a 17th century palace built on the ruins of the Saint Albert Carmelite monastery which was destroyed in the earthquake of 1755. The museum is home to works from many famous artists including Hans Holbein, Albrecht Dürer and Hieronymus Bosch.
Museu do Orient
Situated west of the city center near Alcântara is the Oriental Museum which displays a collection of objects and art that signify the unique historical relationship of Portugal with the East. There is a particular focus on Chinese works of art. This museum is a wonderful homage to the cultural and trade links built between Portugal and countries such as India, Japan, China, Myanmar, Macau and Timor.
Museu Nacional do Azulejo
If you’re heading east of the city center and are interested in architecture and art, then this is a must. The National Azulejo Museum is the national tile museum and contains a collection of azulejos, or decorative tiles, found within the church of the Convento da Madre de Deus. It is the only museum in Portugal dedicated to tiles. Access to the permanent exhibition also allows you to visit the church.
Museu de Arte, Arquitectura e Tecnologia (MAAT)
Housed in an old power station, the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology, or MAAT, is a modern art museum that looks architecturally stark in contrast to the rest of the city. It hosts national and international exhibitions of contemporary art and design and also has collections on the interesting technological innovations of the country. The roof in particular is considered a must for visitors.
Hidden in an old industrial complex, Lx Factory is a part of Lisbon’s dedicated cultural and artistic soul. Describing itself as a ‘creative hub’, Lx is home to numerous exhibitions and events of contemporary art and culture in a variety of fields including fashion, art, music and more. Searching for something different that is sure to surprise and delight you? Look no further than this lovely part of Alcântara.
Avenida da Liberdade
Famous for being one of the most expensive shopping streets in Europe, the Avenida da Liberdade, or Avenue of Liberty was originally a park built in the 18th century for the Portuguese nobility. It was later converted into a boulevard and is Lisbon’s home for many luxury stores, boutiques and embassies.
Rua Garrett (Chiado)
Named after the writer Almeida Garrett, Rua Garrett is a street in the center of Lisbon’s Chiado district. Perfect for a day out of walking and shopping while being surrounded by architectural beauty.
Colombo Shopping Center
If you prefer a shopping mall, Colombo is one of the best in Lisbon and contains more than 50 restaurants and over 300 stores. As it is one of the largest shopping centers on the Iberian Peninsula, whatever is on your list, you are certain to find there.
Feira da Ladra
Translating to English as the ‘thieves market’, Feira da Ladra sits in front of the beautiful Santa Engracia Church just by the National Pantheon. Open every Tuesday and Saturday, this charming market is known as Lisbon’s original market.