… continuation from Day 1
The next day we had made a reservation for a walking tour with a French speaking guide. We met him at 10 am after a quick breakfast in the apartment.
Igreja de São Roque or Church of Saint Roch
The guide took us to a Church as the first tour stop.
This church was the earliest Jesuit church in the Portuguese world, and one of the first Jesuit churches anywhere. It was built in the 16th century. After the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, the church and its ancillary residence were given to the Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa (the Charity House of Lisbon) to replace their church and headquarters which had been destroyed. It remains a part of the Santa Casa today, one of its many heritage buildings.
As soon as we entered the church, a local guide immediately came up to us when she saw us come in and offered a free tour of the church and its museum. We sure were lucky to visit in such great conditions.
The church was beautiful full of gold and sculptures with chapels built in a Baroque style of the early 17th century. The simple and sober exterior of the church, characteristic of the Portuguese “plain style” (estilo chão) contrasts with the highly decorated Baroque interior with its glazed tiles, gilt woodwork, multi-colored statues and oil paintings. You’d never guess the inside by looking at the building! It was a little too heavy for my tastes as I prefer simpler architecture.
The guide explained that in 1505 Lisbon was being ravaged by the plague coming from Italy. Saint Roque is the patron saint of plague victims. It was decided to build a shrine to Saint Roque and the plague victims, and thank god for having survived it.
Here a few pics of the Museum’s collection :
We then stopped by an old convent turned into a bar/restaurant Cervejara Trinidad.
Carmo Archaeological Museum
The Carmo Convent (Portuguese: Convento da Ordem do Carmo) is a historical building in Lisbon, Portugal. The medieval convent was ruined in the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, and the ruins of its Gothic church (the Carmo Church orIgreja do Carmo) are the main trace of the great earthquake still visible in the city.
The Carmo Convent is located in the Chiado neighbourhood, on a hill overlooking the Rossio square and facing the Lisbon Castle hill. It is located in front of a quiet square (Carmo Square), very close to the Santa Justa Lift.
Nowadays the ruined Carmo Church is used as an archaeological museum. The Carmo Convent and its Church were built between 1389 and 1423 in the plain Gothic style.
The guide brought us to an elevated portion with a wonderful view over looking Lisbon.
Then we headed to the fun neighborhood of Alfama at the top of another hill. I was glad to have a guide, as the roads would wind and criss cross with no rhyme or reason and I would be sure to get lost in this maze. It is also a poorer part of Lisbon but we never felt in danger at any time.
The Alfama is the oldest district of Lisbon, spreading on the slope between the São Jorge Castle and the Tejo river. Its name comes from the Arabic Al-hamma, meaning “hot fountains” or “baths” (the name “Alfama” could also be derived from the Arabic word Alfamm, meaning the “mouth” in Arabic,.
As you can see above, during our exploration we happened upon a very famous graffiti depicting a famous prostitute who sang Fado very well.
We climbed a lot of steps till we reached the top of the hill with a wonderful panoramic view of Lisbon : the Miradouro das Portas do Sol :
We stopped to have a refreshing drink in Alfama in a tiny bar along a winding staircase. Climbing up and down constant streams of stairs sure makes you thirsty.
There is actually an elevator, there are quite few in the historic city, but we didn’t use it preferring to explore the streets.
Lisbon Castle or Sao Jorge Castelo
At the very top of the Alfama hill sits the Castle of Lisbon overlooking the historic part of the city. It is a Moorish castle with strongly fortified citadels dating back to the Medieval times. We didn’t have time to visit the interior but strolled along the fortified walls.
I thought it was too funny to find a urinal outside of the castle, so I just had to take a pic ?
After which we headed out to the Praca da Comercio where we ended our tour. On the way down the hill we happened upon a Saint and little alter covered in worshiping gifts.
Mercado Da Bibera
By that time we were getting hungry and followed the recommendation of our friend to have lunch in the Mercado da Bibera which is part market part food court along the shoreline and next to the ferry station. Its roots go back to the 13th century when it was primarily a fish market and one of the most famous in Europe.
There were many little stands of different restaurants either in the city or just here manned by chefs dishing up the local specialties made with fresh product and products from the market place. In the center of all of the stands were rows of tables and chairs that people just shared companionably. I loved the bustling atmosphere and the delicious scents all around. It was foodie heaven.
Here are some of the specialties we tried out from the TimeOut restaurant that I would really recommend you check out if you get the chance :
For desert what else could we have but the famous Santini ice cream? so delish!
After that much needed break, we took the subway to Belem. We strolled through the Jardin Do Ultramar and admired the Thai pagoda.
The trees were absolutely gorgeous in the park. Many statues could be found in the park.
At the end of the garden and along the river toward a modern monument next to a very cute little port.
The floor around the monument was made of an intricate stone design, here are a few details :
The port was very pretty and gave a nice view of the bridge Ponte de 25 Abril and the Jesus statue.
Then we went to see the Tower of Belem. A beautiful fortified tower. The tower was commissioned by King John II to be part of a defense system at the mouth of the Tagus river and a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon.
The tower was built in the early 16th century and is a prominent example of the Portuguese Manueline style. We didn’t go inside because there was still so much to see and do.
Then we wandered over to the Jeronimos Monastery.
The monastery is one of the most prominent examples of the Portuguese Late Gothic Manueline style of architecture in Lisbon. It was classified a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the nearby Tower of Belém, in 1983.
The construction of the monastery and church began on 6 January 1501, and was completed 100 years later.
It was 7 pm by the time we finished the visit and we thought even though snack time had come and gone we couldn’t be in Belem without trying out the famous Belem pastries : the pasteis. The cafe we went to was founded in 1837. The decor is still the same inside. Even thoug it was late, there was a long line to get it but we waited it out.
Let me just say the wait was worth it, the pastries are served right out of the oven ! The hot chocolate was really good too :).
We took the old wooden tram back to our apartment on sluggish feet.
We decided to abide by our guide’s recommendation and listen to some Fado music in the neighborhood. By that time my feet were really hurting and I needed to sit down. However the Fado bar/restaurant that was recommended was entirely full and pretty small. We still really wanted to listen and didn’t want to have to wait outside for a table to free up. We just sidled up to the bar and ordered our drinks. The restaurant made some amazing flaming sausages so we had to try those!
Then the bar lights shut off and musicians started playing and on of the waitresses started singing with no mike whatsoever. Fado music is melancholy and haunting. It’s not my favorite type of music, but it’s best to experience it authentically in a small bar where mostly locals come.
After listening to the music, we headed off to a less crowded restaurant down the same street to have dinner.
A nice flavorful soup hit just the spot!
After such a busy day, it was off to bed for a good night’s sleep !
to be continued on Day 3…
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