A city of ancient traditions and monuments, Lisbon hides many secrets and stories inside its walls. On the surface, Lisbon is a city of many faces and charms, but the richness of its interiors, famous for their ornamental tiles and gilded woodwork, is second to none. Our excursion along the banks of the Tagus and up and down the city’s hills takes us behind the doors of the most notable churches, royal palaces, manor houses and glorious gardens of the capital.
The Miradouro of S. Pedro de Alcântara –which boasts one of the most stunning views of the city – is the starting point for a tour designed to unveil the beauty of Lisbon’s most impressive secret spots. We will go behind closed doors …
The day starts at the Palácio da Ajuda, the royal palace where neoclassical and romantic interiors are celebrated as one of the most complete testaments of the European decorative arts of the 19th century. This is followed by a visit to the …
The Miradouro of S. Pedro de Alcântara –which boasts one of the most stunning views of the city – is the starting point for a tour designed to unveil the beauty of Lisbon’s most impressive secret spots. We will go behind closed doors to discover the secret side of an ever-surprising city. The Convento dos Cardaes, a secluded place in the middle of traditional Bairro Alto showcases the best of Portugal’s unique baroque style – an art of gilded woodcarvings and tiles, of which we find more at the fabulous Jesuit church of São Roque, particularly in the marble and semi-precious stones of the Chapel of São João Baptista, custom-made in Italy for D. King João V. From there, we head to the church of São Paulo, where we will have the chance to admire the magical gilded woodcarvings, and the church of Menino Deus.
Fundação Ricardo Espírito Santo, our next stop, is both a museum of decorative arts and a cluster of craft workshops. During our private visit we will come across a treasury of artisan skills unique in Europe, as crafts men and women work carefully on the evocative restoration of Portuguese aristocratic interiors of the 18th century and young artists and designers produce new pieces inspired by their art and savoir-faire. The Museu das Artes Decorativas, housed in the 17th-century palace of the former count of Azurara, contains a remarkably fine collection of Portuguese furniture and silver, displayed in a series of rooms built around a courtyard. The collection also includes tapestries, carpets, embroidery and paintings.
The day starts at the Palácio da Ajuda, the royal palace where neoclassical and romantic interiors are celebrated as one of the most complete testaments of the European decorative arts of the 19th century. This is followed by a visit to the courtly retreat of Queluz. Lunch will be served in the palace’s old kitchens, where enormous copper pans guard the memory of the royal banquets of the past. The afternoon will be spent visiting the grandiose rooms and salons where, in golden cascades, the exuberant French art of rocaille flourishes. The Queluz Gardens are absolutely ravishing, and this is the opportunity to discover them.
The day ends with a memorable visit to the gardens of the Palácio dos Marqueses da Fronteira, a stunning 18th century estate, where we will be able to marvel at one of the most complete collections of baroque tiles to be found anywhere.
Our last day of secret Lisbon is devoted to the fascinating art of glazed tile murals (azulejos). We start the day contemplating the fabulous reproductions of the fables of La Fontaine in the azulejo panels of S. Vicente de Fora. From there, we go the fantastic Museu do Azulejo (Museum of Tiles), set within the Convento de Madre de Deus, which gives us one more chance to relish some of Portugal’s finest artistic treasures. We keep unveiling the secrets of the art of azulejo at the last big factory of tiles and pottery craft in Europe, dating back to the 18th century. Get closer to the history and the entire production process of the tiles and ceramics, and even closer to this special technique, as you join a tile painting workshop and bring home a fantastic tile made by you! But there’s more to it, even azulejos have a sweet side… This is because the ancient tile factory has been converted into a pastry shop where you can have a gourmet treat, by sampling the famous Pasteis de Belém with a glass of Port. Being in the area, we can explore the Belém quarter, known for its monuments, which celebrate the era of Discoveries. Visit the Belém Tower and the Jerónimos Monastery, two of the finest examples of the Manueline style, the Portuguese interpretation of late gothic style. The leisurely afternoon is all yours to explore. Maybe you’ll discover more secrets of enchanting Lisbon on your own!
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