Lisbon is best toured by foot or on one of the city’s vintage trams to fully appreciate its gorgeous restored medieval facades, wonderful art-nouveau buildings, black-and-white mosaic sidewalks, fine museums, and pedestrian zones with plenty of outdoor cafes and diverse shops. A friendly, romantic city, take your time, and allow yourself to get lost in its old neighborhoods, such as the Alfama and the Bairro Alto, which are the proverbial mazes of twisting streets.
After an earthquake destroyed most of the city in 1755, Lisbon was rebuilt around one of Europe’s most beautiful piazzas: the Praca do Comercio, dominated by the equestrian statue of King Jose. Relax and enjoy a coffee or hot chocolate to savor the ambiance.
Two of the most photographed landmarks are the Padrao dos Descobrimentos (Discoveries Monument) and Castelo de Sao Jorge, which hovers over the city and provides a breathtaking view.
Many of the city’s historic churches come complete with authentic jewels. Igreja de Sao Roque, for example, is decorated with precious stones, and Igreja de Sao Vicente de Fora has extraordinary azulejos (painted tiles) in its cloister. Portuguese tiles, including the blue and white azulejos, are also on display at the Museu Nacional do Azulejo, a museum dedicated to this special art.
Did You Know
Tiles (called azulejos) are everywhere in Portugal. Painted tiles became an art form, and by the 18th century no other European country was producing as many tiles or displaying them more imaginatively and consistently than Portugal. They decorate everything from walls of churches and monasteries, to palaces, ordinary houses, park seats, fountains, shops, and railway stations. You can see tiles used in murals portraying scenes from history or simply serving as street signs, nameplates, or house numbers. Your visit will not be complete without selecting a ceramic keepsake to take home.