Portugal’s capital is a mosaic, comprised of different neighborhoods that all come together to form the cohesive metropolis that is Lisbon. Each district has its own indelible character, from the graffiti-covered party of Bairro Alto to chic Chiado and on to touristy Baixa and the crumbling tiles of Alfama—cross a single street or descend one steep staircase and you’re someplace new. As is typical in Europe, the classic-to-the-point-of-cliché juxtaposition of ancient and modern holds here. But the true joy of Lisbon comes in peeling back the different layers of “old” that simultaneously exist. Pre-WWI tram cars run through the streets past buildings reconstructed after the earthquake of 1755. These are mixed in with remnants of the Renaissance, the Moorish invasion, and the Iron Age. Together, all of these layers form Lisbon, a city as full of surprises as it is of history. To experience its character to the fullest, get lost here. Let your nose lead you to sardinhas assadas; stumble through an alleyway to find an architectural marvel; talk to the locals at the hole-in-the-wall and take their advice. We promise you won’t regret it.
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The Lisbon Top 5
Igreja de São Roque
The alms box on the left side of the nave echoes the awestruck words of many who enter: “Jesus, Maria, Jose."
Mosteiro dos Jeronimos
The Hieronymite Monastery was established in 1502 to honor Vasco da Gama’s expedition to India. We’re guessing the explorer’s spirit is pleased with this ornate tribute.
Museu Nacional do Azulejo
Some of the tiles are whimsical, others saucy, and others just impressive.
Torre de Belem
Be prepared to relive childhood games (no, not The Floor is Lava) as you pretend to fire cannons on two different levels.
Salazar rededicated the building with its current name, although it now, ironically, houses the remains of some of his staunchest opponents.