Our Blog - Lisbon, Portugal - March 2008

In March, we made our first trip to Portugal, spending a few days in Lisbon with a side trip to Sintra and Estoril.

Down at the southern end of Lisbon and near the Tagus river is the Praco do Comercio. The original construction was built in the 1500's as a Palace but was destroyed during the great earthquake of 1755. After the earthquake instead of rebuilding the palace a large square was built where there are government buildings and shops.

The main rail station for Lisbon called the "Estacio do Rossio" has an unusual style for a rail station as it is built to resemble a lavish palace.

Torre de Belem, also known as the Belem Tower was built in the early 16th century as military outpost to guard the river approach into Lisbon. It was built in the Portuguese late gothic style known as Manueline.

A short distance from the Belem Tower is the Monument to the Discoveries, it was built in 1960 as a tribute to the Portuguese seafaring explorers. It sits on the Tagus river and was the departure for many of the sea explorations, an example being Magellan's trips.

Again, not too far from the Belem Tower is the Monastery dos Jeronimos. The monastery was conceived in the late 15th century but took almost 100 years to complete. It was also built in the Manueline style, the late gothic Portuguese style.

This time we have another view of the monastery but from the outside.

Lisbon has a huge collection of old royal coaches in the National Coach Museum. The oldest of the coaches date from the 1600's, here Susan is in front of an example from the 1700's.

Ginjinha is a drink that originated in Lisbon by a friar. At the beginning of our walking tour on Saturday morning we had the opportunity to sample the alcoholic drink, which was both sweet and powerful.

Here is a view of the Rossio Square from the Elevador de Santa Justa. The Rossio Square has been Lisbon's main square since the Middle Ages, where it had been the site of the torture and death of infidels. Surrounding the square are many restaurants and shops.

This is the Lisbon Cathedral, called Santa Maria Maior de Lisboa. It is the oldest church in the city, dating from 1147. There have been several modifications and is an interesting mix of architectural styles.

The Castle de Sao Jorge sits at the top of a hill overlooking Lisbon, where human occupation has existed since the 6th century BC. The castle has been built, destroyed and rebuilt many times through history.

The next six pictures are from the inside of the Castle de Sao Jorge showing multiple views. From the castle you can see great views of Lisbon and the Tagus river.

On one of our days in Lisbon we took a tour of the surrounding towns. Pictured here is the town of Sintra which is about 25 miles outside of Lisbon, situated in the hills. Like many of the houses you see in Spain and Portugal you will find houses in yellows, pinks and reds.

The major tourist stop in Sintra is the National Palace, built in the 15th and 16th centuries. It had been inhabited off and on by the Portuguese royalty since its creation. One of the more famous rooms is the "Swan Room", so named because of the paintings of swans on the ceiling.

In many of the rooms there are tiles on the walls, the tiles give the palace a combination of a Spanish and Moorish feel as the tiles were done in two different styles. The tiles here are a few hundred years old and show the different styles in evidence throughout the palace.

We thought this was the most impressive room in the palace due to the combination of the blue tiles on each wall and the ceiling completely covered by paintings.

On our trip outside of Lisbon we stopped at a national park the marks the Westernmost spot of Portugal and Europe as a whole. It sits on a cliff 450 feet above the Atlantic ocean, buffeted by winds. You can see that Susan is both cold and annoyed by the wind whipping her hair across her face.

On the last leg our tour outside of Lisbon we stopped at the towns of Estoril and Cascais, two popular seaside resorts.