The 10 Best Things to See in Lisbon


Lisbon: Exploration and the Golden Age

On my recent trip to Lisbon, I was able to reconnect with a chapter in history that I have neglected: exploration. And the city proudly shows its golden age, the age of the explorers. It displays its power and riches through its remaining treasures. But it also has a beautiful culture and a city on a river by the ocean with incredible views. So here is what I think are the top ten things to see and do in Lisbon.

Cannon at Castello Jorge
10. Vasco da Gama Memorial: from far away, this memorial looks kinda ugly. It looks like an rectangle with waves. But from close up, it is beautiful. It shows an explorer eager to press forward to discover new things. This explorer is followed by people, inspired by his determination. But what makes this memorial beautiful is its position on the river Tejo. You can see across the river, the bridge leading up to it. You can see the Belem Tower, and the river feeding into the Atlantic Ocean. Its a beautiful location.

9. Sao Roque Church: what makes this church famous is that it is home to the world's richest chapel. It is adorned with gold and art that shows the riches of the city. Just beware of the hill you have to climb to get there.

Jeronimo Monastery
8. Trams: what makes Lisbon so memorable are its trams. While it does have a metro system, the trams are a great way to see the city without giving yourself a heart attack from all the hills. The most famous is Tram 28 which takes you up the hill, giving you a beautiful view of the city.

7. Calouste Goulbenkian Museum: this is Portugal's Louvre, or Spain's Prado, or Italy's Uffizi Gallery. It has a collection of art from all around the world. It has Rembrandt and Monet.  Right next to it is Lisbon's modern art museum.  If you're an art person, this is the museum to check out.

Vasco da Gama Memorial
6. Se Church: in the late 1700s, Lisbon was badly affected by an earthquake. This meant that many of the churches and other buildings were completely destroyed, leaving behind very little evidence of the Golden Age. But the Se Church was not destroyed and inside you can see the old style of architecture used in Lisbon during that time period.

5. Jeronimo Monastery: what makes this monastery so famous is its history with Vasco da Gama. Inside the church, Vasco da Gama is buried. He was closely affiliated with the monastery before departing, just a short walk south of the location, on his historic journey. Can you tell that Lisbon is proud?

4. Baxia: this lively neighborhood is beautiful because of its sidewalks and plazas. The white and black tiles make beautiful designs on the paths that you are walking on. The houses have tiles on them, giving them beautiful and lively colors. This neighborhood, while a main shopping destination, is the center of the city and within easy distances of many attractions.

The Belem Tower
3. Triumphal Arch: I think that I have a thing for arches. I always find them very beautiful and they convey a lot of importance. The Wellington Arch in London, Titus in Rome, Arc de Triomphe in Paris. This are is just as beautiful and as impressive as the the others. Leaving the Baxia neighborhood, you walk under the arch to be met with the smell of the ocean and the sight of the river.

2. Castello Jorge: of course this castle on a hill, and of course you have to walk up the hill to get to it. The trams won't take you that far. So its a workout, but the views are worth it. Its strategic location allows for a great defense of the city but also some great views. You can climb the old towers or wander in the romantic gardens. But my favorite was seeing the peacocks. Yes they keep peacocks there, and they just add to the beauty.

A tram in the Baxia Area
1. Belem Tower: let me take a minute and appreciate the beauty of this tower. Its white stone and intricate designs. But this tower isn't all about beauty. It was the first thing that people were met with when coming from sea. And if you were the bearer of bad news, well this tower had the power to destroy you. To visit the tower you have to cross a bridge and hope that a wave doesn't spray you as it slaps against the tower. And while it is the furthest attraction from the city, it is worth it.

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