Christmastime in Lisbon
Perhaps because I had an impression of Lisbon as a hot place I wasn't really expecting it to be very Christmassy, or maybe it's because back home in England it's almost become illegal to celebrate it these days. But I was glad to see Lisbon takes it's Christmas celebrations very seriously. Every major square, monument and street is in someway covered in Xmas lights. Some of them are a bit more in your face than others, such as the paparazzi lights of the Rossio Square, but the majority of them are really tasteful and definitely put you in a Christmassy mood. There is also piped Xmas music in the main squares and streets which adds to the atmosphere, and even in smaller towns we went through on our way to Sintra and Cascais nearly every street had decorations up. If you'd never considered Lisbon as a Festive destination, then think again.
On the edge of one of Lisbon's hills is the Chiado district, located between Baixa and Barrio Alto.
This area is full of style. For starters, take a walk along Rua Garrett, which is lined with upmarket fashion shops, elegant cafes and jewellery stores. Browse in the Armazens do Chiado department store....even if it is just to use the toilets ; ) Pop into the landmark that is Cafe A Brasileira for a quick coffee and a sweet treat. Then take a wander to see the Teatro Nacional de Sao Carlos (Opera House), one of Lisbon's first neo-classical buildings. Also near by, if you have the time I hear that the Museu do Chiado is worth a look, though we didn't go in.
We entered Chiado by two interesting methods - we rode the Elevador de Santa Justa up one time, and another we arrived on the number 28 tram. But really, it is just up the hill from Baixa, so easy to find.
Nearest metro: Baixa Chiado
More on pavement
This is typical not only in Lisbon but in all the largest city squares and sidewalks in Portugal (and some in Rio de Janeiro or Macao). Usually they are decorated with stone combinations which look like mosaics; they are spread along all the streets of Lisbon like beautiful carpets where geometric patterns alternate with those of natural inspiration. In sidewalks we see mostly repeated patterns and sometimes find street numbers, and business logos - simple individualized panels opposite to some shops and cafes, like an advertisement. Most city squares on the contrary, show closed patterns.
The material used is always the same: dark basalt and white limestone. The alleged reason for this b/w contrast centers around Lisbon's patron Saint Vincent. It' is said that the black represents the holy attire worn by the revered Saint, while the white represents the white outfits of the Christian Crusaders who vanquished the Moors.
The pavement system as we know it today in Lisbon was used for the first time in 1840, on a large surface in the parade ground of the military headquarters, on the main hill of Lisbon. After this first experience, the inventor of this system, Lieutenant-General Eusebio Furtado, a military Engineer and Governor of Castelo de S. Jorge between 1840 and 1846, presented the Town Council with a project for the paving of the main square in Lisbon, Rossio, and got the approval, for the making of the famous "large" waves or "the wide sea" (mar largo). In 1849 after the completion of the Rossio square the pavements of the Chiado district and Avenida da Liberdade were also completed. Eventually most of Lisbon's streets were paved this way, and this "fashion" spread throughout the country.
Today the "Portuguese pavements" are still made by hand, and are part of the country's heritage and identity, continuing to decorate the streets and squares all over Portugal.
So if you come to my town, don't look just around, watch your step ;-) because stones here "live" under your feet and some are authentic works of art. Take a look on Avenida da Liberdade, the main squares downtown (Restauradores, Rossio, and Comercio Square), and Chiado. For more contemporary designs, look around in some metro stations and in Parque das Nações, especially by the Oceanarium, where you'll find images of sea monsters and other maritime designs.
Wedding at Castelo de Sao Jorge
After labouriously making our way up the steep and narrow streets of the Alfama, we were relieved to finally find our way onto the grounds of Castelo de Sao Jorge! We entered through a small gate and soon found ourselves enjoying its wide and breezy stone-paved promenades.
This is a great area to just sit under the olive trees, enjoying the view out over the city and the Tejo River while you have a cold drink. Just ahead and to the right is a multimedia centre which depicts 16th century life in Lisbon. Next to it is a very nice restaurant, Casa do Leao, which was very busy hosting what appeared to be a wedding reception. There were many well-outfitted couples enjoying refreshmentts at their tables and others just enjoying the views along the walls of the Castle. Between Sintra and the climb up the hill, we had done a lot of walking, so we took some time to sit down and enjoy the view ourselves!
Nice sneakers to walk.... the sidewalk can be tricky, specially when it rains....check out the picture!!! If you are planning to visit Lisbon in summer, u better bring sun protector.
Sometimes it's 30 or 35 C..... If u want to learn more about Calçada Portuguesa (portuguese art of making sidewalks) check ou this website!