This short three-day break will allow you to discover a different side of Lisbon each day – facets that make up the uniqueness of one of Europe’s most beautiful capitals.
Lisbon is a city with an Atlantic soul and a Mediterranean vibe, or an inimitable mix of the two, know for the rich variety of heritage and styles, all shaken up by the earthquake of 1755 and rebuilt according to the spirit of Enlightenment. A very special urban landscape illuminated by the city’s extraordinary light, reflected from the ever-present river Tagus.
You will start your journey through the remote origins of this multicultural city, a blend of Phoenician, Arab, Roman and Medieval heritage secretly guarded around the Baixa and the Castle areas. From the heights of the Castle of São Jorge …
A visit to the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga (Ancient Art Museum) will give you the chance to soak up the treasures that testify to the rich cultural encounter between West and East in the best tradition of Portuguese art. The Museum is set …
Contemporary Lisbon is the theme of the day, with a tour of the city’s most iconic and original modern buildings and venues, such as the Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, a landmark in Lisbon’s cultural scene, with its concert hall …
You will start your journey through the remote origins of this multicultural city, a blend of Phoenician, Arab, Roman and Medieval heritage secretly guarded around the Baixa and the Castle areas. From the heights of the castle of São Jorge, with its magnificent views, to the ancient cathedral (the lovely Sé de Lisboa) and then descending into the streets of Alfama, with its narrow, labyrinthine alleys where one still breaths the air of a Moorish city, you will discover the treasures of an historic city, where even the remains of a Roman theatre can be seen. Lisbon is a very complex and fascinating city, and this is due to its geographic position, the richness of its past, and the unexpected perils of nature: in 1755, a terrible earthquake literally swallowed up most parts of the ancient city, leaving them under the ground.
Fortunately, several remains of the old city (cities, actually) can now be seen in an outstanding archeological excavation. In the Baixa, not far from the Arch of Rua Augusta, a huge building unveils more than 2500 years of the history of the city, its walls and grounds guarding artifacts of ancient civilizations that have settled in Lisbon all throughout history.
From beneath the ground to the open air, we arrive at the refreshing Praça do Comércio, with its elegant arches facing the Tagus. From there, we explore the streets of the Baixa, laid out after the earthquake in a special, ordered design according to the urban ideals of the Enlightenment. Here, we walk through the streets immortalized by the great poet Fernando Pessoa, before ambling up to Chiado, where cafés, shops and bookshops (including Bertrand, perhaps the world’s oldest bookstore) still evoke the way of life described by the author of The Book of Disquiet. And because we really did think of everything, we can organize a special poetry reading of Fernando Pessoa in a literary café, just for you.
A visit to the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga (Ancient Art Museum) will give you the chance to soak up the treasures that testify to the rich cultural encounter between West and East in the best tradition of Portuguese art. The Museum is set on a privileged position facing the river, offering spectacular vistas of the city from its lovely gardens filled with statues. This is followed by more artistic and cultural richness at the breathtaking Mosteiro dos Jerónimos and the Torre de Belém – two jewels of Manueline art and architecture in Portugal, and both listed as World Heritage sites.
The triumph of the Baroque is the inspiration for the afternoon, taking us on an illuminating course through the city. You might choose to spend the afternoon amid magnificent palaces, beautiful private gardens and extraordinary religious architecture, an opportunity to revel at the gilded wood-carved interiors and stunning glazed tiles of some of Lisbon’s most precious religious and private buildings. Museu do Azulejo, featuring some of the finest examples of this typically Portuguese art, the stunning interiors and gardens of the Palácio de Fronteira, the beautiful church of São Roque and Convento dos Cardaes, a Baroque convent hid in the streets of Bairro Alto, are some of the must-sees.
Contemporary Lisbon is the theme of the day, with a tour of the city’s most iconic and original modern buildings and venues, such as the Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, a landmark in Lisbon’s cultural scene, with its concert hall, two museums (one devoted to the foundation’s decorative arts collection and the other to contemporary art) and beautiful garden where art and nature meet gloriously. At Gulbenkian, as locals call it, you will be dazzled by the minimal beauty of its landscaped gardens, a project by the architect Gonçalo Ribeiro Telles.
Our next stop is Fundação Champalimaud, a building with a mysterious name – Centre for The Unknown- and an intriguing architecture. It houses a state-of-the-art scientific research center specialized in biomedicine.
We bid the city farewell with a surprise, at the modern Parque das Nações with its concentration of world-class contemporary architecture built for Expo ’98. Here we find architect Siza Vieira’s masterpieces, such as the Pavilhão de Portugal, with its roof of extraordinary lightness that appears to float on the air, although it’s made in concrete. Then there’s the fantastic Oceanário, the work of Peter Chermayeff, and the feathery Estação do Oriente, by Santiago Calatrava, among other imposing attractions. And there’s still time for a last stroll along the banks of the Tagus, so wide and golden in this area of the city that it is called Mar da Palha, or Straw Sea.
If you wish to tailor this tour, you might be interested in knowing all the experiences and travel ideas we have thought of for you: please have a look and let us know if you have any different ideas in mind!