Lisbon Portugal – The Belem and Tejo River District


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It was time for us to join the tour company for further exploration of Lisbon and the sites near the Tagus River (Rio Tejo). Our fist stop was the Coaches Museum. This was quite a unique collection of a variety of coaches used for historical events in Europe.

Not part of the actual collection, but quite interesting was the huge elevator which was able to accommodate dozens of people at a time. Here is our very knowledgeable guide, Paula, commenting on the unusual shape and size of the elevator.


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The coach pictured below was fairly typical of the items on display. Notice the photographs projected on the walls. There was as much information as one could want about the various coaches and their history. Some of the more modern vehicles had videos to show them in use. In addition to being modes of transportation, these carriages were distinctive works of art.

An exhibition note found online about the coach below describes it as follows:

Car Infantas

Car of the apparatus used by Infantas (children) D. Maria Francisca (later D. Maria I), D. Maria Ana, D. Maria Francisca Doroteia and D. Maria Francisca Benedita, daughters of King D. José I.


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Read more about the coaches Museum HERE (click the EXPLORE button to see additional coaches and their history – some descriptions are in Portuguese)

A short ride by bus took us to the Monastery of St Jerome, one of the major attractions and UNESCO World Heritage site located in the Belem district (west Lisbon).

Mosteiro dos Jerónimos was built along the Tagus River and completed around 1600. King Manuel I decided to build a monastery in honor of the Virgin Mary and as gratitude for one of its premiere explorer’s, (Vasco de Gama), successful expedition to India. Precious commodities from Africa, Asia and South American expeditions plus spice trade taxes mainly subsidized the monastery’s construction.
via The World Is A Book

Vasco da Gama and his crew reportedly slept at the Monastery prior to leaving for their voyage to India.

The south portal (pictured below with the statue of Our Lady of Bethlehem) is perhaps one of the most stunning features of the monastery. It was designed by Spanish Architect João de Castilho (also known as Juan de Castillo). There is an abundance of sculptured filigree, statues of saints, noted historical figures and fine details. It is hard to believe that this is not the main door, however this is where visitors were entering the building on the day we visited.


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The details on the outside of the building were not the only impressive architectural element of the monastery. The vaulted ceilings of the attached Church of Santa Maria de Belem were massive, interwoven stone and masonry webs. It is an amazing and impressive structure bringing to mind descriptions from Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth.


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There is ample artwork to impress visitors as well. The alcoves were covered with paintings, statues and icons along with gold and silver ornamentation.


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This old, blemished wall looked its age and was a good foil for the stained glass window of the Virgin Mary.


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Perhaps the most famous Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama, is entombed in the Monastery of St. Jerome.


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This is a very popular site and there are often long lines so travelers should plan accordingly.


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Not far from the Monastery is the Tejo or Tagus River. There are a number of sites to be seen along this waterway. The Ponte 25 de Abril suspension bridge spans the Tagus River. Visitors may notice the similarity in constuction to San Francico’s Golden Gate Bridge

In the Alameda district across from Lisbon is another impressive attraction, the Cristo Rei Statue which is reminiscent of Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro. Those so inclined can walk across the bridge or take public transportation to within walking distance of the statue.


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Along the waterfront is the Monument to the Discoveries (Padrão dos Descobrimentos) which pays homage to the brave Portuguese explorers and navigators who risked their lives to find new lands and resources. There is a park-like area with the stylized pavements and decorative inlays.


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People can mount the monument to get a closer look at the artwork, nearby boats and the waterway.


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The main statue pays tribute to Prince Henry the Navigator who played a major role in the Portuguese Age of Discovery. Other statues call forth images of Vasco da Gama and Magellan among others.


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Read previous posts about our adventures traveling in Portugal and Spain:

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 1

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 2

Portugal – Lisbon Streets & Garden

 

Read more Hiking and Exploration posts HERE


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2018 – JBRish.com



Portugal – Lisbon Streets & Garden

Traveling in a foreign country is definitely peculiar because we generally find ourselves out of our comfort zone. If there is a language difference and a number of significant cultural differences, this can be even more pronounced. After a single day in Portugal however, we felt more or less at ease.

One of the first things we do when we arrive at our hotel in a foreign area, is to secure a business card with the name and address of the establishment. If we then get lost, we are only a taxi ride away and we can just show the card to the cab driver. We took two cabs during our stay in Lisbon and both experiences were positive. Interestingly, as we learned, the customary tip for taxi drivers in Portugal is to round up to the next highest Euro. At the time we visited, the Euro was about $1.21 USD (+/-) which means the largest tip would be $1.21. Of course, tourists can tip more if they like.

Lisbon is a hilly city. It is known as the City of Seven Hills so be prepared to walk uphill sooner or later or to hail a taxi.



As you can see the street above was a bit steep as we headed toward the Jardim Botânico da Universidade de Lisboa (The University of Lisbon Botanical Garden).

We walk and then we walk some more when we visit new countries or regions. We love to walk around town and get a good sense of the city or area we are visiting. Like most major cities, there were McDonald’s restaurants in Lisbon. As you will note in the center of the shot below, the golden arches are rather muted. No large red background here. We stepped inside to note the differences between American McDonald’s and those in Portugal and while we did not purchase anything, it was interesting to note that they served coffee in ceramic coffee cups for patrons who had their coffee in the restaurant.



Again we were walking downhill which we know from our hiking will be an uphill on the return trip.

We have visited many gardens in our travels and I have to comment that this particular garden is not what I would call a display garden. It appeared to be more of a research garden. There were few dramatic landscape areas and only a scattering of flowers at the time we visited. We were a bit disappointed, but found some sections of interest. The tree below had an amazing display of air roots.



The garden had resident cats probably serving as mousers. This tabby on the roof was spotted in several areas and had a friend or sibling that was remarkably similar.



On the walk back to our hotel, we encountered this happy drainpipe festooned with a floral array. I had to return the smile as I took the picture.



Pictured below is another interesting trash/recycle bin we encountered.



Street vendors made a variety of commodities available especially huge strawberries and the fruit dealers seemed to be popular with the commuters.



The main thoroughfare in Lisbon is the Avenida da Liberdade (Liberty Avenue). It is a very wide street with pedestrian walkways separating the lanes of traffic. The walkways are paved with an intricate design that we were led to believe were copyrighted and used just for the city of Lisbon. There were special work crews adept in repairing the swaths of walkways and maintaining the integrity of the artwork.

These pieces of intricate artwork were created with the use of limestones referred to as calçada Portuguesa (Portuguese pavement). The cobblestones are made into small squares and placed to create a design in black and white. Care should be taken when it is raining as these tend to be a bit slick when wet.

The “Avenue” is a great place to walk and window shop. There are also nice areas with water features, plants and restful benches. It is worthy of a stroll if you have time.



Our home base in Lisbon was near the Marquis de Pombal neighborhood which seemed to be a more or less central location relative to areas we were interested in investigating. It was a nice, but long-ish walk to Rossio Square, the Tejo River and shopping areas.

A Statue of Marquis De Pombal, the Portuguese Prime Minister from 1750 to 1777, is one of the highlights in this area of the city.



As you can see, the statue is in the middle of a large rotary which can be very busy at times, but there were plenty of traffic lights and ample opportunities to cross the roadways.

Here is a more picturesque shot of the statue. This is a popular stop for tourist buses because of its central location and proximity to the Edward VII Park (more about the park in a following post).




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Read previous posts about our adventures traveling in Portugal and Spain:

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 1

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 2

 

Read more Hiking and Exploration posts HERE


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2018 – JBRish.com



Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 1

Breaking away from our routine of traveling to national parks in the United States, we decided to journey overseas with a noted tour company to see a part of the world in which we have been interested for a long time. So off it was to Portugal and Spain.


Map of Portugal with Lisbon noted

Map Via

We arrived in Lisbon relatively early in the day. After we checked in at our hotel, we were anxious to get out and about to visit some of the sights we researched. High on the list was the Alfama district in Lisbon.

One of Alfama’s distinctions is that it is the oldest neighborhood in Lisbon. It is located along the Tejo river and is very picturesque. The concierge at the hotel explained that we needed to take a taxi to the tram stop and then take the number 28 to Alfama.


Tram #28 headed to Alfama

The #28 tram’s route traverses the city’s center thus making it a very busy mode of transportation as tourists use this to arrive at many of Lisbon’s popular attractions. It is less expensive than a tour bus, but there is no guide to point out the sights. We had to be careful as there were two different #28 trams. We determined we needed the one with the destination noted as Prazeres.

You can read more about it HERE

This popular tram usually operates from 7AM until 11PM daily. Check out the current schedules to be sure.

NOTE – Pickpockets often frequent this tram so be careful and keep your valuables close. We had no problems at all (besides the usual language barrier).

Little did we understand that the tram was going to drop us off quite a distance from the main section of Alfama and that we also needed to board a small van to take us to Alfama’s central location; no extra charge. Streets are so narrow in places that cars cannot navigate them. Bicycles and smaller motorized transports are plentiful on these narrow side streets.

As we were walking to board the jitney, we passed a trash can that was quite unique. We didn’t realize that this was customary in Portugal and Spain. Trash/recycle receptacles are sometimes painted and serve as a work of contemporary art. The city sponsors some to the container art. Apparently a number of other European cities have adopted this colorful method of camouflaging these streetside bins.


Art covered trash=recycle bins

We managed to find our way to the small van and disembarked near the Miradouro das Portas do Sol (Viewpoint of the Doors of the Sun) which is a large terraced area with an elevated point of view looking over Alfama. The first thing visitors are going to notice is the famous red roofs. This is Alfama’s trademark!


Landmark red roofs of Alfama seen from Miradouro das Portas do Sol

In the picture above, the river is barely visible, but some of the prominent buildings can be clearly seen. The large building in the upper left (with the two towers) is the Church or Monastery of São Vicente de Fora which Wikipedia translates as “Monastery of St. Vincent .” Just off to the the right of the Monastery is the dome of the National Pantheon.

Saint Vincent is Lisbon’s patron saint and a statue to honor him stands as a sentinel at the Portas del Sol close to where most visitors will arrive at one point or another during their explorations. There are several vendors and street merchants at this location trying to capitalize on the crowds that often gather in this area.


Statue of Lisbon's patron saint, Saint Vincent

Here is another photograph of Alfama taken from the Miradouro de Santa Luzia which is another great viewing area. The Tejo river is located along the horizon. More central with a single tower visible is the iglesia de Santo Estevao (Church of St. Stephen).


Another view of the port of Alfama seen from Miradouro de Santa Luzia

As we began to make our way through the old streets of Alfama on the way to the Thieve’s Market, we passed by ancient structures. Here is a crossover near the Campo de Santa Clara (market square).


crossover near the Campo de Santa Clara (market square)

The Thieves Market is similar to flea markets around the world. It is only open on Tuesday and Saturdays in the square near the Panteão Nacional and São Vicente de Fora dating back to the late 1880’s.


Vendors at the Thieves Market in Alfama

There was a large variety of goods for sale including books, crafts and other typical flea market wares.


Wheelbarrow with dishes for sale

More about our Alfama excursions will be posted soon!

 

Read more Hiking and Exploration posts HERE


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2018 – JBRish.com