Our last segment of the trip was time in Lisbon. It was great. We had a beautiful apartment, complete with a roof-top patio, that allowed us to explore the city and enjoy the good life sitting on the patio.
Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in the world, and the oldest in Western Europe. It predates London, Paris and Rome!
The good news: there are many sights to see. The bad news: it is a city of hill. You don't walk Lisbon, you climb it! Our apartment was a block away from the classic BICA Tramway, one of the three funiculars in Lisbon (Gloria, Lavra and Bica). The BICA opened in 1892. While we were there, an "incident occured", the tram hit a truck and pushed it into a wall. Unfortunately the tram was damaged and would be out of commission for a period of time. This is not a broken bus! Within the day,a poem was written and placed on the old tram, it truly is part of the community.
Our first visit after we arrived was to the Jerónimos Monastery in the Belém district. This is not walking distance from the centre of town. A bus or tram can take you there. We found the buses to be so busy we simply could not get on one. So in the end we grabbed a cab. This is a monastery with cloisters that will set a new visual benchmark for you! The monastery is a designated UNESCO Work Heritage Site. Construction started in 1501. They have an interest history room where you walk along a curving story board of all the events around the world that took place over the live span of the monastery. (Additional photographs and information on the Monastery is found on our travelstocloisters website.)
From there we walked over to the Belém Tower. It also dates from the early 16th century and was built to be part of the defence system. I was less impresesed with the Tower mainly because of the crowds. Line up and waits to get to in, to get to different floors once you were in. It looks best from afar.
One of the sights to see, that I was impressed with was the Carmo Convent. The convent was destroyed in the 1755 earthquake that hit Lisbon. Today it stands as a shell, but impressive as high. columns and arches still stand, but the blue sky is the new roof. It is a very enjoyable experience to walk through such a significant structure.
It was morning at the ruins of the Carmo Convent, and then in the afternoon we went to the Cathedral, the oldest church in the city. It dates back to 1147, has has survived the eathquakes and with each a bit of modifiation. The cloiseters were added in the 13th Century at the request of the King. Reconstruction was underway, with the centre of the cloisters covered with tarps and scaffolding, this work has been going on for years as they keep discovering things! Each of the twin arches as an oculum, the round rose type window, and each oculumn has a different tracery pattern. I will be adding more to our Travels to Cloisters website as I make updates.
The Rua Augusta Arch is a large trumphal arch build that leads from the Praca do Comercio into the lower central section of the city. You will like this area, as it is flat! You can go to the top of the arch with an elevator part of the way and then a very narrow winding stairway to the roof. It offers great views of Lisbon.
But for me, I just fell in love with the Trams. I was like a addict, as soon as one could be seen coming down the steel rails I could not help myself pulling out my camera! The tram lines date back to 1873 when they were originally drawn by horses, and in 1901 they system was switched to electricity. Line 18 is a great way to see the city.
- On to Paris