When we’re visiting a new city, we always want to make the most of our time and hit the best spots, especially if we are up for a short stay. Lisbon has a lot to offer and some fantastic places to discover so we’ve made a list with the best neighborhoods to visit in Lisbon.
Article by: Kleiber, the founder and guide at Hi Lisbon Walking Tours
Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in Europe with more than 3000 years and everything has started in this charming neighborhood. The area that stretches from the shores of the Tagus River to São Jorge Castle is definitely a must with its magnificent influence of several civilizations like the Romans, the Visigoths, the Moors and the Jewish.
Get lost on its charming streets and enjoy the beautiful architecture, with some buildings dating from the 16th century, discover parts of the old wall that protected Lisbon in the old days, try the delicious local food, ride one of the famous old fashion trams and discover the soul of Portuguese culture, Fado.
We recommend visiting the church of Santo Antonio and see the local where he was born (yes, he’s Portuguese), Lisbon’s Sé Cathedral (the oldest church in Lisbon), Casa dos Bicos, the viewpoints of Santa Luzia and Portas do Sol and to enjoy a fantastic sunset from São Jorge’s Castle.
During the Moors period, Lisbon was a very mixed city with Muslims, Jewish and Christians living all together but with the conquest of the city by Portugal’s first King, D. Afonso Henriques in 1147, things were about to change. If the Moors wanted to stay, they would have to live outside of the city walls and that was the beginning of Mouraria (place of Moors).
If you want to learn a bit more about the Portuguese culture, this is the place to be. Most residents have been living here for a very long time and still keep the old way of life and the traditions. Most houses are very old and some of them date from before the Great Earthquake of Lisbon in 1755.
We recommend visiting the oldest house in Lisbon (dating from the early 16th century), the house that is still damaged by the Earthquake in 1755 and was never recovered, the beco do Fado with the pictures of the most famous “Fadistas” of Lisbon, some of them born and raised in Mouraria, the Cerca da Graça Garden with its amazing view, the church of São Cristovão (one of the only churches that survived the Earthquake) and to have a delicious meal in one of the many local restaurants.
With the destruction of the Great Earthquake in 1755, most of Lisbon was in ruins and the Royal Palace located at the shores of the Tagus River was destroyed. The king named the Marquees of Pombal, Lisbon’s Prime Minister, to be in charge of rebuilding the city.
This visionary man wanted to modernize Lisbon and based on the French architectural trends of the 18th century, chose a project composed of parallel and perpendicular large streets with different categories of importance and big squares. The structures were also built with anti-seismic characteristics and Lisbon became one of the first earthquake proof cities in the World.
We recommend visiting the spectacular Commerce Square (the biggest square in Lisbon) with its famous arch, wonder around the beautiful Augusta Street, Rossio Square, the incredible Rossio Station, the Municipal Square, Lisbon’s City Hall, the church of São Domingos and the Jewish Memorial.
Chiado is one of the most expensive and fancy neighborhoods in Lisbon and famous for its shops, historic landmarks, museums, theaters and has been the meeting point of poets, politicians and artists since the 19th century. The origin of the name Chiado is related do António Ribeiro, a popular poet who lived in the area and whose nickname was Chiado (squeak).
This was one of the most affected areas by the Great Earthquake of Lisbon and the rebuilding plan organized by the Marquees of Pombal also included the area. New streets were built, connecting the area to Baixa along with the reconstruction of churches, monasteries and buildings with the same anti-seismic characteristics.
We recommend visiting the ruins of Carmo Church, Santa Justa elevator, São Roque Church (one of the most expensive ones in Portugal), São Pedro de Alcantara viewpoint, São Carlos National Theater, the beautiful Camões Square and the Bertrand Bookshop (the oldest one in the World according to the Guinness Book).
Belém is one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in Lisbon and is known as the birthplace of the Discoveries. From the shores of Belém, famous navigators like Vasco da Gama, Fernão de Magalhães and Afonso de Albuquerque departed its harbors to navigate through the unknown, facing the dangerous of the Oceans to discover a new route to India and the lucrative spice trade.
There is a lot to do in Belém, as this is the area with the most important landmarks and museums. We recommend visiting the Tower of Belém, the Jeronimos Monastery (both UNESCO World Heritage Sites), the Monument to the Discoveries, the Cultural Center of Belém, the Imperial Square, the Presidential Palace, the Coaches Museum and the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology.
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