The ocean-liner 'Olvia' entered the outfall of the river Tejo and was approaching the port of Lisbon, when on a high hill on its bank we saw a gigantic figure of Jesus Christ made of stone with arms stretching sidewards. The sight is so majestic, that it will stay in my memory forever.
Lisbon's oldest quarter is the steep Alfama district which almost wasn't damaged during the 1755 earthquake. It is still home to some Roman and Arab remains. The Alfama consists of an interesting mixture of cobbled alleys with drying laundry, tiny squares with chatting locals, wrought-iron balconies with caged birds and hole-in-the-wall stores with all sorts of local specialities.
The Alfama district is situated east of the Baixa, just in between the castle and the Tejo river banks.
Chiado is the name given to the quarter west of the Baixa, located on the slope that forms the link between the lower and the upper (Bairro Alto) parts of the city. The name is often also used to denote only the elegant shopping street, Rua Garrett, situated in the center of the quarter. This main street is where we can find some of the most emblematic places in Chiado, such as the almost tri-centennial Bertrand Bookshop or the centennial Art Nouveau café A Brasileira. It also gives access to the Chiado Museum, the opera theatres of S. Carlos and S. Luiz and to the ruins of Convento do Carmo (Archaeological museum). In Rua Garret we can find 3 churches: Mártires, built in 1147 in memory of the martyrs killed during the reconquest of Lisbon by Afonso Henriques, Encarnação with beautiful tiles and frescoed ceilings, and Loreto, the Italian community church in Lisbon, with frescoed ceilings and a splendid furnished sacristy in pau santo (Brazilian wood).
At the top of the street we have Largo do Chiado, where the gate in Fernando’s walls (king Fernando I) once opened (in the place where the 2 churches stand today). In front of Chiado square is another, bigger, square which is one of the main accesses to Bairro Alto -Largo de Camões- dedicated to the national poet -we celebrate Portugal’s Day on his date of death, June, 10th.
All this area was once the epicenter of bohemian Lisbon and today is undoubtedly an elitist area of the city.
While in Avenida da Liberdade we can find the headquarters and important offices of major national and international companies along with international fashion and design shops, in Chiado you have the same elegance in emblematic theatres, antique bookshops, old-style cafes, art nouveau jewelry shops and luxurious international names such as Hermes and Cartier. In a small dimension (scaled to the city’s dimension) Chiado in Lisbon can be thought as the 5th Avenue in New York, or Oxford Street in London. You may evaluate it yourself by going into the opulently gilded Tavares Rico Restaurant opened in 1784 (known as the most expensive restaurant in the city), by taking a look at the fine porcelain of the Vista Alegre shop (although you can find Vista Alegre shops in some new shopping malls) or the wonderful hand-painted ceramics and tiles based on antique patterns from Fábrica Sant'Ana (founded in the 1700s), or checking out the boutique of Ana Salazar, one of Portugal's international fashion designers that also has collections of interior design and accessories.
The poet and playwright António Ribeiro (1520-91) gave the area its name. A contemporary of Luis Vaz de Camões, he was originally a Franciscan monk but left his order and went to Lisbon where he became known as "Chiado". On Largo do Chiado a monument in memory of António Ribeiro was erected in 1925. Another, more famous poet, has a curious monument here too: Fernando Pessoa sits, in life size bronze, at a table infront of the Café A Brasileira, ready to have a photograph taken with tourists, this man who in life was so shy and reserved. Pessoa, a public service official spent entire afternoons in this café (and in Café Martinho da Arcada in Praça do Comércio). He wrote about the Brasileira: “the corners stare at me, the smooth walls really smile at me”. In Largo S. Carlos you can visit Pessoa House, a small museum with some of his belongings and books.
The name of the Rua Garrett in the center of Chiado commemorates another writer, Almeida Garrett (1799-1854), who was also temporarily active as a liberal politician. Actually at the turn of the century and during the first decade of the 20th C. Chiado was the meeting place for writers and artists. Political and cultural exchanges constantly took place in the cafes here. That’s why we can spot reminders of the city's intellectual life, with statues of literary figures such as Luis de Camões (in the square of its name), Eça de Queiroz, and Fernando Pessoa.
Chiado hit the world headlines when an enormous fire destroyed part of the quarter on August 25, 1988. The fire affected an area of "only" 2ha/ 5 acres but nevertheless the destruction seriously spoiled the character of the district. In the main it was the Rua do Carmo which was affected by the catastrophe. Together with homes and offices two old department stores burnt down, as well as the famous Pastelaria Ferrari, the Casa Batalha (jewelry) and the valuable archives of the music shop Valentim do Carvalho containing unique documents relating to the history of Portuguese music. I was one of the many impotent voyeurs of the disaster as I was serving in the army on the hills of Graça just across the Baixa.
Chiado was rebuilt and rethought by the internationally awarded architect Siza Vieira so as to keep its original glamour. The Armazéns do Chiado (Chiado storehouses) were converted to a modern shopping center with several types of shops including a big FNAC music and bookshop. The Carmo street become a wide open pedestrian-only street after the fire (actually the access of the fire brigades to the street was impracticable to the spot of fire allowing the fire to extend). Walking along these streets is always a unique pleasure, whether it is for the beauty of its buildings or for the variety and multiplicity of people which walk through it each day. And here we can find the “usual” street vendors and jugglers, some beggars and all sorts of tourist “fauna”.
The area is served with a metro stop with the same name -Chiado (green line) and is also served with Lisbon’s buses and trams. It has also an underground parking car.
The Portuguese people drink their Sagres, a beer produced in Portugal. Very good and you have many different tastes of it. Enjoy it as the Portuguese people do in a bar and watch a football game at tv at the same time. Here they discuss everything about life, from football to politics and so. You find the similiar life in other latin countries too. Dont be afraid, enjoy the people in the talk.
Estadia de Luz
There are 2 major teams in Lisbon, Benfica and Sporting Lisbon. Our trip took us to the Estadia de Luz to watch Liverpool play Benfica.
The stadium is very impressive and there is an Adidas shop as well as a Benfica club shop within the complex.
Before the match the club mascot an American Bald Eagle is paraded around the ground and then released to soar around before landing back on his perch in the centre circle, quite a sight. The eagle actually lives in the stadium - I guess he earns his keep seeing off pigeons and maybe the occasional rat! Bring badges, shirts or scarves of your own team to swop with the Benfica fans.