On the water, Lisbon
Lisbon’s answer to the Golden Gate Bridge is this, the Bridge of the 25th April or Ponte 25 de Abril to give it its Portuguese name. Dating to 1966, and constructed by the same company who built its arguably more famous cousin in Califfornia, it is the 20th largest suspension bridge in the world. It was originally named “Salazar Bridge”, after the dictator who had it built. It was later renamed to commemorate the so-called “Carnation Revolution” of 1974. This was a day of bloodless revolution, when soldiers placed carnations in the muzzles of their rifles as they led a revolt against the world's longest dictatorship.
Thanks to Lisbon’s many hills, you will get glimpses of the bridge from many vantage points in the city, and also very clearly from your plane as you descend to the airport. To get closer, why not spend an evening in the Docas area of the city eating outside at one of the many warehouses now converted into restaurants and bars. Or of course you could cross it – by train or (on payment of a €1.35 toll) by car.
On the far side of the Tagus Lisbon provides its own version of another iconic city sight. Rio de Janeiro has Corcovado, Christ the Redeemer, while Lisbon has Cristo Rei or Christ the King. Also commissioned by Salazar, it was inaugurated in 1959. The pedestal takes the form of a gate and is 75 metres high, while the statue on top is 28 metres. Like the bridge can be seen from the city and from your plane, but if you’d like to get up close and personal you can catch a ferry from near the Cais do Sodre station and then walk along the river or catch a bus to the monument.
I have never visited the monument myself (another thing on my list of “must do”s on a future visit) but I have heard that the views of the city and river from the top of the pedestal are excellent so it would be well worth taking the lift to check them out.
Fado (translated as destiny or fate) is a music genre which can be traced from the 1820s in Portugal, but probably with much earlier origins. It is characterized by mournful tunes and lyrics, often about the sea or the life of the poor. The music is usually linked to the Portuguese word saudade, a word describing a sentiment that is commonly considered to have no accurate translation in any other language. (Home-sickness has an approximate meaning in English. It is a kind of longing, and conveys a complex mixture of mainly nostalgia, but also sadness, pain, happiness and love). Some enthusiasts claim that Fado's origins are a mixture of African slave rhythms with the traditional music of Portuguese sailors and Arabic influence.
My favorite Fado group is Madredeus, I listened in this trip while crossing the Tagus river and at the train on the way to Sintra, Cascais, Estoril...
Aslo Dulce Pontes is a wonderful fado singer, I had chance to see her in the concert in Las Palmas 2 years ago.
There are some Fado houses in the city If you want to listen live fado music in Lisbon. But I heard they are mostly tourist traps like the Flamenco shows in Madrid...
Until the end of the 14th century, ships from everywhere had an easy entrance to the Tagus River causing enormous destruction on the city.
In this very small rock at the entrance of the Tagus was built, in the 16th century, the Tower of São Lourenço. This fortress was built to defend the river entrance.
In 1775 a lighthouse is installed there.
Take a ferry trip to Barreiro from Terreiro Do Paco Sul Suesta terminal just steps from Praca Do Comercio.
It can be a refreshing break from walking the city. Ferry to/from Barreiro leaves/arrives every half-hour and in 15 minutes you are on another side of Rio Tejo. Return ticket is only couple of Euros. Great views of the old town from the boat.
Trip to Seixal is from the same terminal. Trip to Cacilhas is from Gare Fluvial at Cais Do Sodre which is fifteen minutes walk west on Avenida Da Ribeira Das Naus
This ferry did not have an open deck, so to make pictures I had to shoot through the small opening in the top window.