A legendary city with a history spanning over 20 centuries, Lisbon has been Portugal’s capital since its conquest from the moors in 1147. The legendary Alfama, the oldest quarter of the city, still boasts its original layout along with Castelo and Mouraria. These traditional quarters, set on a hill on the banks of Tagus River, with their cobble stoned streets which are a delight to explore, old churches and fascinating architecture, offers an exotic atmosphere.
With spring-like winters and summers mellowed by the gentle breeze from the Atlantic, Lisbon is a year round holiday destination. And apart from the old city with its gothic cathedrals, monuments, monasteries and museums, Lisbon is well known for its popular festivals, exquisite shopping and its exciting night life.
The main monumental attraction in Lisbon, the Castelo de Sao Jorge (Saint George’s Castle) portrays the early history of the city. Offering a spectacular panoramic view of Lisbon this castle was built by the Visigoths in the 5th century and was expanded in the 9th century by the Moors.
Some of the other interesting historical monuments include the Aqueduto das Aguas Livres (Aqueduct of the Free Waters) an aqueduct, consisting of 109 arches spread across the valley, built in the 18th century by the order of King Joao V. One of Lisbon’s most fascinating churches, the Basilica da Estrela (Estrela Basilica) was built in the 18th century and was dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Casa dos Bicos (House of the Pointed Stones) is a 16th century construction with an unusual pointed frontal design.
Lisbon boasts a wide variety of museums such as the National Art Museum with its vast collection of paintings, sculptures, drawings, jewellery and furniture from the 12th to the 19th century and also portrays Europen, African and Oriental art and the Folk Art Museum with its collection of regional Portuguese art and craft. The Chiado Museum, or the National Museum of Contemporary Art, is located in the heart of the city and it holds the most significant Portuguese contemporary art collection. For those interested in fashion design the National Costume Museum exhibits over 30,000 costumes from different periods including those from the 14th to the 19th centuries.
Apart from the old city and the cobble stoned maze of streets and amazing architectural structures Lisbon also offers great shopping options. Malls of varied sizes adorn the city and there is a section of the city solely for shopping. The Rossio, the Augusta Street, the Chiado and the Liberdade Avenue are the main areas for shopping. Other traditional areas for shopping are Avenida de Roma, Alvalade and Campo de Ourique.
As for shopping malls, the largest mall in the Iberian Peninsula, Colombo offers a range of national as well as international ware. The El Corte Ingles, a large department store, offers many famous brands. But for a real Portuguese experience try the Flea Market in Campo de Santa Clara. Open on Tuesdays and Saturdays its one of the oldest markets in Lisbon and visitors can either buy or exchange goods.
The region’s cuisine adds to the Portuguese experience. Known for its sea food such as fresh bass, oysters, clams and cockle, and typical regional specialties made of goat and sheep cheese, are sure to satisfy the gastronomic needs of all visitors. Other specialties include pastries from Malveira, ‘zimbros’ from Sesimbra and ‘queijadas’ from Sintra. Don’t miss out on the famous ‘muscatel’ wine from Setubal, and Portuguese country specialties such as grilled sardines and fish soups and local custard pies.
Author: Larry Austin
About the Author:
Larry Austin is a freelance journalist who writes on travel related topics such as hotel and destination reviews etc. He is currently working for roomsnet.com which offers visitors the option of world wide hotel bookings. roomsnet.com offers many Hotels in Lisbon for holidaymakers