Out-of-the-way museums and sights, Lisbon
An intriguing archeological site in Lisbon is some interesting Roman ruins to be found underground in Baixa. One of the unique things about this site is that in order to visit it you must enter a modern bank, as if on banking business, in order to start the tour. Found very recently in 1991, when the bank was starting to build this downtown building, these roman ruins are owned by the Banco Comercial Portugues.
Throughout the bank's underground foundations are vast tunnels of Roman ruins. You will need to be in fairly good health to take this tour. For example, the walkways are only about 4 feet tall so you will often have to bend and crouch along through this maze of tunnels. But for a completely different look at ancient Lisbon I think you will find that it is worth the trouble.
There are old Roman wells that, interesting by itself, were used as a water supply by the firefighters during the earthquake of 1755. There are also old Roman baths with beautiful blue and white inlaid mosaic motifs, old fish salting tanks denoting the major commercial industry at the time as well as the skeleton of an ancient citizen along with some broken pottery.
Lisbon's so-called 'green lungs' reflect its geographic position in Europe's southwestern corner. The hilly Monsanto Park covers approximately one-quarter of the city, which is more of a recreational forest and excursion area than a park.
The Avenida da Liberdade, Lisbon's equivalent of the Champs Elysees, stretches west from Rossio (just outside of the historic Baixa area) to Pombal's monument and Edward VII Park, a large formal garden and leisure area. The centrally located Edward VII Park, which gently slopes from west to east towards the River Tagus, is a wonderful spot to slow down for a little while, maybe have a picnic or to just relax before heading back into adventures within Lisbon?s inner realms.
The largest park in central Lisbon was named in honor of King Edward VII of England who came to Lisbon in 1902 to reaffirm the Anglo-Portuguese alliance. The wide grassy slope that extends for 62 acres (25 hectares) was laid out as Parque da Liberdade, a continuation of Avenida da Liberdade, in the late 19th century.
Neatly clipped box hedging, flanked by mosaic-patterned walkways, stretches uphill from the Praca Marques de Pombal to a scenic lookout at the top. From the lookout you will have fine views of the city and the distant hills on the far side of the Tagus River.
The Edward VII Park features a lakeside restaurant and two tropical greenhouses known as Estufa Fria, which houses palm and bamboo, ferns, banana trees, exotic flowers, bushes, trees and cacti from every corner of the world set along streams and waterfalls. Also part of this park is the Pavilhao Carlos Lopes, named after the 1984 Olympic marathon winner, which is now used for concerts and conferences. All of this makes Edward VII Park one of the most popular off-the-beaten path spots for tourists visiting the capital.
This is a treasure house of art covering almost every significant epoch. Egyptian, Greco-Roman, Islamic and Oriental art comprise half the exhibition rooms and the remainder is devoted to European art from medieval times to the early 20th century.
The gardens are well kept and are really beautifull.
By chance, I happened upon the University of Lisbon's Botanical Gardens (Jardim Botânico da Universidade de Lisboa ), on the R. Escola Politécnica. The gardens were bright and colourful in early February ... they must be gorgeous in the spring and summer months.
There is a very inexpensive fee to enter - 1,50 € according to the website.
Located on the southern edge of the Alfama neighborhood, this small museum illustrates the history of fado, Portugal's contribution to the musical pantheon. Performed by vocalists and guitarists, the music sounds like a cross between the blues and flamenco, with the beautiful sound of the Portuguese language making it very haunting to listen to. The museum goes in somewhat exhausting detail through every aspect of fado's history and styles. What is great is that you can listen to samples of all types of fado singing and playing. Naturally, there is a great gift shop (more of a record store, really), and we made the most of the opportunity to pick up some CDs.
Why not spend some time to visit the Museu de Macao? An interesting collection of stoneware, porcelain, earthware coming from the Chinese art through the former portuguese enclave of Macao.
The Museum is closed on Mondays and it is situated in Rua da Junqueira 30. It can reached by tramway 15, from Praça da Figueira or Praça do Comercio or Cais do Sodre. Entrance fee: 2.5 Euro