Out-of-the-way museums and sights, Lisbon
Saldanha is one of the large round-abouts that mark the start of the Avenidas novas area and also a fairly large subway station along several of Lisbon’s metro lines (red and yellow). The subway station was built in 1957 and has several interesting art works that are characteristic of the Estado Novo time. Above ground, the centre of the Square is dominated by a statue to the Duque de Saldanha, a title that was created in the 1830s and that, it appears, was never really connected to anyone or any event of great importance.
North of the capital’s Pombaline avenues and the Parque Eduardo V is an area known as the Avenidas novas, or the new Avenues. This part of Lisbon was constructed during the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, akin to the Eixample in Barcelona. Although the are does not have the same reputation as the Eixample for architecture or good living, it does still have the wide avenues and Art Nouveau architecture in some of its buildings. These are not always in good repair and many of them will likely have to be gutted and renovated in order to be in good working order. Nevertheless, it is a quiet, charming area that is filled with small groceries and shops, with plenty to see on a calm afternoon walk. In particular, during the late spring it seems like the entire area is in bloom, with pretty purple and pink flowers covering the trees and shrubs.
The Aqueduto das Águas Livres is an impressive example of pre-Pombaline Portuguese architecture and engineering. Constructed between 1740 and 1748, the aqueduct brings waters to the city of Lisbon. It’s terminus and the main reservoir for the distribution of water to the city is in the Alcântara district of the capital, not far from the Rato subway station. The aqueduct may serve an important urban planning need, but it also provides an interesting addition to the architecture and character of this section that is slightly removed from the activity of the centre of the city. As one of the major constructions that survived the devastating earthquake of 1755, it is also an important architectural link to the city’s past and the immediate pre-catastrophe period. Today the reservoir is also the home of the Museum of Water and an exhibition space. Its most notable feature is, of course, the Arch of Amoreiras (Arcos das Amoreiras), which covers the Ruas das Amoreiras and is a beautiful Baroque feature of a neighbourhood that blends new and old.
Campo Grande is Lisbon’s bullring and one of its largest stadiums. I didn’t come to see it to be able to participate in a match of any sport, rather I was drawn here because of the interesting architecture of the structure and because it was a part of the city that I had yet to visit. Campo Grande is interesting in its architecture, which is sort of a mix of neo-Moorish and Daliesque elements. Actually, Campo Grande was designed according to neo-Moorish designs in a beautiful maroon colour, but the novelty of the stadium and its clean, new surroundings give it the aura of being almost surreal. After all, it’s not at all common that someone would decide to resurrect a style that has not been in wide use since the turn of the last century. I’m not sure exactly when the stadium was built, but I would imagine, given the neighbourhood and the general look of the building, that it was within the last ten years. In the area beneath the stadium there are numerous shops and fast-food restaurants, providing a sort of mini-terminus for the Campo Grande subway station.
I stumbled along these ruins in the district of Graça while I was trying to find a restaurant that was incorrectly marked on a guidebook map. I still haven’t been able to find anything about them, but from the look of the area, I’d guess that they were old and unsound dwellings that were demolished in order to make way for something else, but that the plans didn’t come to fruition. Today they’re filled with graffiti, which makes them a little like an open-air gallery of urban artwork.
The Alentejo – or Além tejo, beyond the river Tejo – is a largely rural and agricultural region of Portugal that is often known for its laidback attitude towards life and work. As in other countries, the Portuguese capital attracts internal migrants from all across the country, many of whom still cling to the traditions of their regions as a source of pride and identity. The Casa do Alentejo is, or was, a sort of cultural centre for people from this particular region. It contains a small library (or bookstore) as well as meeting rooms, games rooms and a restaurant. The main draw, however, is the spectacular architecture of the building, which was designed in a neo-Moorish style. The exterior may not be much to look at, but the interior is characterized by an impressive Moorish courtyard, complete with tiling and grills. This rich decoration is continued in the stairways up to the second floor, where the rooms change into something out of a Merchant Ivory film, more akin to a gentlemen’s club in British India than the rural backwaters of the Portuguese nation. The tired but well-appointed dining room is something to be impressed by, as are the tiles in the games room and the approach to the bathroom. I understand that the cooking here is also quite good, although it may simply be the effect of dining in such interesting surroundings. On Rua das Portas de São Antão, 58, to the east of Rossio.
My best story from our trip to Portugal occurred on the last day while trying to find the home of an obscure historical figure, one Weneceslau de Sousa Moraes. He is buried in my wife, Miyuki's, hometown and quite famous there as the first westerner to ever visit Tokushima. There are plaques to his memory etc.
So... the Japanese guide book gives me directions to visit his old home,
which is a one hour mile to walk in the heat. It turns out that this address takes me to a narrow-streeted African neighborhood complete with street vendors and music. DeMoraes' house isn't there. I trudge all the way back downtown to find the tourist information kiosk
and they tell me I was almost there, if I'd only gone another quarter mile I
would have found it. So up I go again, this time finding myself in an Arab neighborhood, also with narrow streets. No problem, I'm cruising around eating baklava and drinking tea while searching for the house when whammo, a dog gets hit by a car causing a huge commotion. I still can't find the place so it's back to downtown and a different information kiosk. This guy takes more time and looks it up on the internet, comes back and says it is only a few blocks away! Now my life can't be made too easy so I somehow managed to get lost on the way (and found some cool music stores and sausage shops along the way), and when I
corrected my course, found I had to climb a 60 degree angled hill while listening
to the sounds coming from everyone's apartments, kids fighting in Portuguese,
movies played too loud, the street just kind of echoed. As I got to the top a small boy jumped out of a doorway to intentionally scare me, then turned horrified when he saw I wasn't his mother, who swiftly appeared and apologized profusely.
After that, it was one more flight of stairs to the very top of the hill where, accompanied by the sound of two people f***g inside the apartment behind me, I stood, sweating like a pig, breathing hard, feeling the saudade and looking at the house of Wenceslau de
Sousa Moraes, and realizing it was a simple plaque!
I couldn't even go in, after al lthat work and walk, I could only photograph the plaque you see here. When I got back to the bottom of the hill, just in time for the siesta, I had a beer, the best tasting Sagres in all of Lisbon and had a laugh. it had been a good day and one worth remembering. Furthermore, I'd gotten to see a lot of obscure points in Lisbon, found a used CD store to buy my Madredeus CDs, and tasted a few local (or immigrant foods would be more accurate) foods I wouldn't have found otherwise. Very sad about the dog
though. It didn't die.
Oceanário de Lisboa is the largest oceanarium of Europe.
It displays marine flora and fauna from five oceans, in conditions that create the original environments.
It's situated at Parque das Nações. Esplanada D. Carlos I, Doca dos Olivais
Entrance fee is: adults E10,50
Open: summer 10am-7pm
For more impressions, see my videos
Parque das Nações was build for the worldexhibition Expo '98.
This huge ground contains several pavilions, lots of shops and restaurants
and enough things to do to spend at least half a day.
Especialy the Ocenarium is worth visiting.
The easiest way to go there from the citycentre is by metro. The end of the red line is station Oriente. When you leave the station you'll be at the beginning of the Expo-ground.
From all over Lisbon you can see the statue of Cristo Rei on the other side of the river Tagus. To visit this statue you can cross "the 25th of April Bridge", or take the ferry at Cais do Sodré which will cost only 1.28 euro for a retour.
The statue of Christ is 28m high and stands on a pedestal of 82m through the interior of which you can reach, by lift, one of the finest terraces for a view over the city.
For me it was the place to ask my girlfriend to merry me.
Alto do Pragal, Almada
Admission: 4 euro
Open daily from 9.30am to 6pm
In the neighbourhood Campo de Ourique you'll find this huge graveyard full of tombs, completed with gardens and little houses with curtens and numbered like houses in a street.
Ofcourse these graves were only for the wealthy Lisboetos, but nevertheless worth visiting.
At Largo de S. Domingos de Benfica 1, you will find this palace with a fantastic "Italian style" garden with lots of fountains, statues and buildings with tiles.
Well, like the pictures speak for themselfs.
(Unfortunaly the palace was closed when we were their, so we only visited the garden.)
Estrela is not really on many tourist itineraries. In fact, I came here only because it seemed like the Gardens and the Church would be things open before the Museum of Ancient Art and I always like to start my days early when I'm sightseeing. Estrela is 2km from Bairro Alto and it takes a bit of walking a good map to find out exactly how to get there from wherever you're staying. In the end, though, this is definitely off the tourist trail and a great way to see how the people of Lisbon live away from the crush of the tourist masses. The Basílica was built in the 18th century and is a great example of Neoclassical architecture. The interior is pretty but nothing spectacular and, given that it is more of a neighbourhood church instead of a tourist attraction, there will be people praying if you go to visit it in the morning.
Rua São Jorge, north of the Museum of Ancient Art.
CASA-MUSEU DR. ANASTACIO GONCALVES was a nice little neighborhood find, located just across the street from our hotel (Hotel Zenit, 1 block from the Saldanha Metro station.) Antonio Anastacio Goncalves was born in Alcaneno on Oct. 2, 1889 and passed away on Sept. 15, 1965 in Russia.
He was a prestigious opthamalogist in Portugal, and was Calouste Gulbenkian's physician. He travelled quite a bit, but as the museum literature points out, what was amazing was that "in spite of having travelled alot all over the world, his collection was acquired in Portugal, although it includes pieces from different sources."
The building is a home, Casa Malhoa, designed by architect Manoel Joaquim Norte. It has a n amazing stained glass window that features a Portuguese maiden picking oranges from a tree. Goncalves collected many paintings from Portuguese painters such as Silva Porto, Malhoa, Columbano, Joao Vas, Antonio Ramalho, Carlos Reis, Mario Augusto, Marques de Oliveira and others. He also collected English, French, Dutch, Spanish and Chinese furniture and antiques.
Here's a big tip: admission is 2 EUR, but FREE on Sundays between 10am and 2pm. It is a small treasure tucked away in the Saldanha neighborhood that is worth a peek.
The Garden-Museum of tropical agriculture.
It's on what it used to be the farm of the Belém Palace, construted with the aim os studying the flora of the past portuguese colonies. it's great for a walk! It's open everyday except bank holidays from 10.00 - 17.00.
It's in Belém, by the Belém Palace, just off the Rua de Belém, next to the tram and bus stop.
It closes on bank holidays.