Tribute to a city:
Last spring I visited Lisbon on a short filigree course but stayed only four days and got just a glimpse of this beautiful city. So now I returned in late February and early March for two weeks. The plan was that my son with girlfriend should join me but their plans changed so I spent my stay in Lisbon on my own. It was much of an escape from the Swedish winter, which is nice around Christmas but is far too long too grey, windy and freezing cold. You never get used to it, on the contrary, it is harder and harder to endure as the years pass by.
I had hired an apartment in the district of Alfama, which is the old town of Lisbon, much-loved by tourists. The view from my windows is to die for and I start with some photos from my apartment during various hours day and night. There is the river Tajo, some anchored ships, the rooftops of Alfama, the São Miguel church, orange trees at the stairs. I saw fireworks and a children’s carnival from my windows among other things.
Day temperature 17-23 °C.
Alfama around my apartment: 66 steps up is the Largo Santa Luzia full of life all day long, street music, cafés the breathtaking view from Portas del Sol. A lot of steps down the São Miguel church, Largo São Miguel, winding narrow alleys ( beco in Portuguese), beautiful houses, many tiled, and some a bit neglected. Laundry on lines.
You can’t talk about Lisbon without mentioning tiles, azulejos, a heritage from the islamic rule. Many, many houses are tiled in amazing patterns, so common I think people living in Lisbon don’t think much about it. But it is a real treasure. One of the joys of strolling around Lisbon (as I did a lot) is admiring the tiled walls. Here is a little collection:
Lisbon is full of outstanding museums and I made a strict selection after all the time was limited to two weeks. The museum of filigrana was an obvious choice. A small museum but a very interesting and I got a personal guiding. With roots from prehistoric times, it was practised among farmers in the north of Portugal in their spare time. They worked in gold and it is only the last decades that silver is more common. Unfortunately, there are no books on this fascinating subject.
Another really important museum that should be a must for every tourist is Museu da Aljube Resistência e Liberdade. A whole museum dedicated to all men and women who worked in the underground resistance movement under the fascist dictatorship under Salazar. Incredible bravery and sacrifice who finally led to liberty in 1974. Very thought provoking and gives a background to understand Portugal today.
Another museum I have to mention is the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum. Exquisite is the word I want to use to describe this museum with selected objects from Ancient Egypt to modern art and everything in between. Gulbenkian was a rich engineer and businessman from Armenia who ended up in Lisbon during world war two. His love for art made him buy the very best of the best and build this outstanding collection. After his death, a museum was built exclusively for his collection, an interesting concrete building from 1969 situated in a beautiful park.
Fado can be heard from bars and restaurants everywhere around Alfama, and the district also hosts the Fado museum. Of great importance for Portuguese identity, this museum tells the story of the fado, and you can listen to recordings of all the famous artists as long as you like.
The iconic yellow trams of Lisbon are still in use, built in 1930:s. The engines and brakes were replaced in 1990:s. No new coaches were found on the market who could manage the sharp curves and steep hills of Lisbon so they kept the old ones. I spent half a day travelling with trams. Very picturesque but I have to confess that I prefer the metro: fast, cheap and comfortable.
A real treat in Lisbon is Street art. I am very interested in street art and Lisbon appeared to be one of the best street art cites in the world. One reason could be that Lisbon has quite a few rather derelict buildings and Lisbon city council is said to encourage artists to decorate them. Street art has become a big tourist attraction and all guided tours were full for weeks ahead. Instead, I found an app that guided me to Street art around Alfama and I spent a lot of time hunting to find them. I can’t say what it is in Street art that is so exciting and fascinating. It has something to do with the rebellion side of it, and the contrast between derelict and run-down sites and the bright and stunning colours of art. Here are a few of my finds:
In Cascais, a coastal town 40 minutes from Lisbon by commuter train, I appreciated a break from the hustle and bustle and to stroll along the sea. Cascais has both beaches and rough cliffs, a spot called ” Boca da inferno” ” the hell’s mouth”.
The entrance of Lisbon is guarded by five lighthouses. One of them is the “Farol da Santa Marta” in Cascais. Being an old sailor, l have a special affection for lighthouses. They are often beautiful buildings and represent safety and reliability. Farol lighthouse is both a working lighthouse and a museum.
I visited Cascais twice, the second time was my last day in Lisbon. Two weeks went by quickly. The last I saw of Lisbon was when the aeroplane lifted from the airport early in the morning, white houses with terracotta roofs shining in the sun, the Atlantic sea glittering in green-blue. Goodbye Lisbon and many thanks for this time!