More Miradouros - Viewpoints, Lisbon
Looking north from St. George's Castle, it is possible to see another great lookout over Lisbon. The Miradouro (belvedere) da Graca is shaded by tall pine trees and surrounded by small cafes, making it a popular spot for couples.
This lookout spot is backed by an Augustinian monestary (at right) first built in 1271 and reconstructed after the great quake of 1755. The steeple to the left belongs to its associated church, the Igreja da Graca. This church can still be visited and its interior features 17th century hand-painted azulejo tiles.
Castelo de Sao Jorge was built where it was because it has a commanding view of the area and, it still does! This is the view out over the Baixa toward the Tejo (Tagus) River and its opposite shore.
On the distant far right is one of the supports of the Ponte 25 de Abril suspension bridge, which was modelled on San Francisco's Golden Gate bridge. Completed in 1966, this 2-km double deck bridge was modified in 1999 so its lower deck could carry rail traffic across the mighty Tejo River. This was made possible by the opening in 1998 of Europe's longest bridge, across the Tejo just north of Lisbon, the 17-km Vasco da Gama.
To the left of the suspension bridge tower is another tall structure, this one being 'Cristo Rei', an 82 m (270 foot) pedestal supporting a 28 m (90 foot) figure of Christ. This answer to Rio de Janeiro's 'Cristo Redentor' was built between 1949-59 by Spain's dictator Francisco Franco at the behest of Portugal's dictator Salazar.
It's onlty to be expected that, with all those hills, there are fabulous views to be had over Lisbon. You'll catch lovely glimpes of the city through gaps between the buildings and down the narrow streets (photo 5) but for the best and widest views you need to make your way to the specially built miradouros to see over the whole panorama spread out before you.
You'll find the miradouros at the highest point of the hills, their wide balustrades allowing for a clear view out over the city. They're not just the haunt of photo-snapping tourists however; there's bound to be a few locals there. During the day they'll be gossiping with friends or neighbors, taking time out for a coffee over a newspaper if there's a cafe, playing dominos. Come evening, the miradouros are a favourite haunt of the more romantically minded. Whatever the time - the views are spectacular.
Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcantara is a lovely tree-shaded space at the top of the Elevadore de Gloria in the Bairro Alto. From here you look straight across to the castle and down on the Baixa.
There are wonderful views from the castle of course, but if you walk down the hill a little way, you'll come to the Miradouro de Santa Luzia, a long shady balcony that looks out across the Alfama to the river beyond. There are a couple of lovely old tiled panoramas of the city on the back wall of the balcony.
A few steps along the road from the Miradouro das Portas do Sol is another wonderful viewpoint, the Miradouro Santa Luzia. Its low stone wall is decorated with azulejos and overlooks the winding streets, rooftops and churches of the Alfama district, and below these the River Tagus.
The little square takes its name from the small church to one side of it, Santa Luzia. There has been a church on this site since the 12th century, but this one dates from the 18th century and was extensively rebuilt after the 1755 earthquake. On its south wall, facing the viewpoint and a pretty little garden, are two tiled panels. One depicts the Christians attacking St George’s Castle in 1147 and the other shows Praça do Comércio as it looked prior to the earthquake.
On the last morning of our latest visit to Lisbon we took a taxi up the hill towards the castle and got out on the Rua São Tome. Perched above the Alfama district is a little square, the Largo Portas do Sol, with a small stall selling drinks and snacks. This is a perfect place to enjoy a coffee and pasteis while soaking up the sun and admiring the views. This for me is a quintessential Lisbon experience!
From this viewpoint you can see several churches, including the large São Vicente de Fora ("St. Vincent Outside the Walls" - in photo three and behind Chris in photo four), the white dome of the Pantheon or Church of Santa Engracia (photo two), Santo Estêvão (in my main photo) and all the houses and other buildings tumbling down the slopes of the Alfama to the river below.
In the centre of the square is a statue of São Vicente (photo five), the city's patron saint. He is holding a boat with two ravens on it, the symbols of Lisbon.
In the southern section of Barrio Alto is the pretty Santa Catarina district. Santa Catarina is a small area, with maze-like streets, gossiping residents and lots of drying laundry.
If you are down in the lower section of Barrio Alto towards the river, you can catch the cute Elevador da Bica up the steep hill to Rua do Loreto.
Make sure you check out Miradouro de Santa Catarina, a vantage point with great views to the river. From here you can see the Ponte 25 de Abril (looks like the Golden Gate Bridge) and the Cristo Rei (similar to the similar to the Redentor in Brazil).
Also at the Miradouro is a statue of Adamaster, a writhing mythical sea monster.
The Santa Catarina is a great place for a stroll amoungst the crumbling homes and quiet streets. There are some fabulous tiled buildings here to.
When you travel, don't you too pick a spot and decide "this is my spot. I will make this my emotional base, and I will orient myself from here"? Well, this miradouro (outlook) was my spot in Lisbon. Only minutes from my hotel, with a good view of my beloved Sao Vicente monastery, a stop of tram #28, a cheap cyber-cafe and a plain good restaurant nearby (Kome Ka - Rua Das Escolas Gerais 57). I came back here every day, and a little like with a multiple choice water slide, I found a new way down to the Alfama every time.
Since Lisbon is built on 7 hills, there are quite some overlooks (miradouros) from which you have great views of the city.
I am not going to write a different tip about every single one of them, here you have an overview of the ones that I saw:
1/ Castle of Sao Jorge: probably the most beautiful and complete one. You can see very, very far and I just couldn't stop looking, it's amazing!
2/ Jardim de Torel: when taking the Elevador da Lavra, going left, from there it's signposted. Wonderful views over Baixa and Bairro Alto from a small park. Especially fantastic during sunset!
3/ Miradouro de Santa Luzia: pretty close to the castle, next to the church. From here you have an overview over the roofs of Alfama. Pretty charming.
4/ Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara: views over Baixa and the Castle. Just to your right when you get out of the Elevador da Gloria.
5/ View from Elevador da Santa Justa. If you get out of the elevator, take the steps towards the terrace. Beautiful views of Rossio and the river Tagus.
6/ Miradouro de S. Catarina: views over the Tagus, the least impressive one, in my eyes.
7/ McDonalds, indeed the fastfood restaurant. :-)) I entered in the one on Rossio, which offers a great view over the square. And from the McDonalds terrace in Vasco Da Gama shopping centre, you have a great overview of the Parque das Naçoes! ( no, I didn't eat in this one too, don't worry:-))
If you're into watching and enjoying the sunset, the city of Lisbon has several hills, seven prominent ones, from which you can situate yourself with a 'bica' or tea with a 'pastel de nata' or 'bolo de arroz', my favorite and proceed to find a moment's contentment under a cool protective dark goggles to watch the sun go down.
One of city's great spots to do this is high up in the Castelo de Sao Jorge upon its craggy ramparts, battlements and highly evocative grounds set among ancient olive trees and aleppo pines overlooking the westerly and southerly skies of the city into which the paling ball of fire sets itself free to retire. Down beneath lies the old city with her jigsaw puzzle of a uniquely Portuguese architectural expression, orange tile roofing of houses. From this magnificent vantage can also be enjoyed Lisbon's ambitious suspension bridge - the Ponte 24 de Abril -and nearby the sky-touching statue of an open-armed Christ seeming to be the city's protector with hills cascading down towards the vast expanse of the River Tejo.
Best time to get here is from early afternoon onwards til gate closing.
You'll encounter a fabulous view of Lisbon from the Castelo de São Jorge.
If you don't have a chance to go to many miradouros (view points) in Lisbon, I would recommend this one.
You can do two in one...see the castelo and view the city at the same time.
Daily 900-1800 (Nov-Feb), 900-2100 (Mar-Oct).
Castle and Gardens Admission: Free.
Not very many cities possess views such as these. Pause from a walk and from a roaming about the old city and go up to one of her fine miradouros or lookout and contemplate the place.
The miradouros of Lisbon are the ideal vantage points from which to look at and admire this city. A city that is without comparison. Lisbon has many hills and upon these hills there are three most prominent perches or miradouros perfect to survey the breathtaking expanse of the city. The highest point above the Baixa is the most famous of all, the besieged and war-weary walls and terraces of the Castelo de Sao Jorge. Right pararell to it on the next hill is the miradouro of Nossa Senhora do Monte - solemn and least visited.
The other great and astonishing lookout is the Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara in the Bairro Alto district on the opposite hill across. This is a miradouro with a view of a thousand histories. A view like no other...so captivating and let's you never forget...to not forget her shattered past, triumph and a most generous face. A past traversed by Phoenicians, Celts, Vandals, Sueves and Alans, Romans and the Moors. Not to mention the brazen Spaniards. The first king of Portugal Afonso Henriques made the final claim in 1147.
You will never see a view of a city from a hill such as hers. Embracing and potent in her eternal narcissism. In the mid-1800's, an English traveller upon seeing the city declared Lisbon to be 'the most narcissistic city of all cities.' A narcissism which came about as a result of her frontal face having been smashed, defiled and shattered by the a most devastating earthquake of 1755.
From this destruction which brought about a wholesale flattening of land mass, a tsunami killing more than 40,000 souls, a conflagration that followed levelling everything in its path. The high-rising hill which all had sat there before, brought down in gravel and dust. A sunken and flattened out plateau, afterwards a concerted rebuilding carried out to resurrect the levelled off area to make the Baixa which has since become the lower part of town and the central hub of Lisbon.
On both sides, the other hills stood intact, shaken but unrepentant. A new and much-reconstructed face of Lisbon after 1776.
You look down below either from the citadel upon the ramparts of the castelo high above the Alfama or from a slope in Bairro Alto. From either miradouros you survey a sentiment-filled city caldera and across the entire expanse of Lisboa's countenance. As your look lingers, her hand touches your face and a gaze to make you - along with her - so gladdened and forever longing for returns.
From the Saint George Castle, at the Miradouro you can look down upon the city, you can see the big bridge 25 de Abril, the Cristo Rei Sanctuary on the other side of the river Tagus (Tejo), the Praça do Comercio, the Baixa and all those narrow streets and alleys.
Just an amazing view, you can’t miss it.
> Transport: Tram 12 or 28; bus 37.
> Opening hours: Daily 09:00-21:00 (Apr-Sep); daily 09:00-18:00 (Oct-Mar).
> Admission: Free.
In this fabulous view point we can have views over the Alfama and the Tagus estuary and south bank. It is located at Largo das Portas do Sol e de Sta. Luzia.
>Transport: Tram 28 or 12; bus 37.
>Opening hours: Daily 24 hours.
> Admission: Free.
On this view point we have panoramic and amazing views over the rooftops of the Mouraria and Baixa quarters to St. George's Castle and the ruins of the Carmo Convent.
> Transport: Tram 28.
>Opening hours: Daily 24 hours.
If you're walking to the Alfama or Castelo de São Jorge you will pass the Santa Luzia's Church with its miradouro. Although you can overlook the huddle of Alfama's roofs down to the Tejo river, there are more beautiful outlooks in Lisbon.
This miradouro is special for another reason: There are several artistic wall-paintings consisting out of azulejos at the facade of the church. The most exceptional is one depicting Lisbon before the great earthquake in 1755 in a very vivid scene.
Park benches will also invite you to rest a little in the shadow before you continue your arduous walk through Alfama or to Castelo de São Jorge.