Lisbon Travel Guide
Lisbon, Lisboa in Portuguese, is one of the oldest cities in Europe – older than even Rome! It has ancient quarters dripping with atmosphere – the likes of Belém and Alfama – where centuries-old churches and whitewashed buildings with burnt-orange roofs wind around narrow, cobbled streets that crawl up the coastal hills along the Atlantic, with trams rattling up and down them, until they are little more than steep, wide staircases. It has a fabulous old castle, Castelo São Jorge, that towers above the city, and no dearth of parks and well-endowed libraries and museums. It has a legacy tied to the Age of Discovery – think voyages and expeditions undertaken by Ferdinand Magellan, Vasco da Gama and other such illustrious explorers. It is the birthplace of fado music, at once mournful, lyrical and uniquely Lisboan, and the "Portuguese pavement" where sidewalks and plazas are adorned with tiled mosaics. It is a city, too, of poets and writers and café-lined boulevards, at once bohemian, melancholic, rhapsodic and romantic. Ultimately, Lisbon is a city with character and continuity, the city of Fernando Pessoa, 20th-century poet, writer and philosopher, who once reflected, "O comboio abranda, é o Cais do Sodré. Cheguei a Lisboa, mas não a uma conclusão." – "The train slows down, it's the Cais do Sodré (Lisbon’s train station). I arrived to Lisbon, but not to a conclusion."
Lisbon is situated on the central west coast of Portugal, at the mouth of the River Tagus, and is the westernmost capital in continental Europe.
The best way to reach Lisbon is by air. There are direct flights to the city from most European capitals and major cities such as Barcelona and London.
Lisbon is alive with sights and attractions, cultural, architectural and historical. It's not a matter of what to see, rather a question of where to begin. Still, if one must be selective, the top draws would have to include Alfama, the oldest quarter of the city, overlooked by the 10th-century Castelo São Jorge with its Moorish fortifications; Belém, the departure point of all the historic voyages of discovery, which is dominated by the UNESCO-listed Manueline-style Jerónimos Monastery, singularly the most-visited building in Portugal; Terreiro do Paço, Lisbon's most famous public square; Rua Augusta in Baixa, the city's downtown, which is a trip in itself; the 12th-century Lisbon Cathedral with its Gothic tombs and cloisters and Phoenician digs; and the Rossio Train Station and 25 de Abril Bridge, the latter with an uncanny resemblance to San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. There are myriad museums and galleries in the city, one more rewarding than the other, and scores of good cafés and restaurants and bars and clubs to whet the appetite of the visitor.
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