By Gabriela Marichal, intern
Portugal lies in the westernmost point of the European continent. It’s capital city, Lisbon, established in the west coast of the country along the Atlantic ocean, is estimated to be one of the oldest cities in Europe.
This historical city harbors two of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recognized World Heritage Sites. The sensational infrastructure, rich cuisine and welcoming people of Lisbon are more than enough reasons to visit the gem that is this city.
Whether you’re walking up one of the famous “seven hills” the city was built upon while listening to some Fado (Portuguese soul music) in the distance or riding on one of its emblematic vintage trams, every corner of Lisbon holds a little bit of magic.
Here are the top seven places you can’t miss on your next visit to the Portuguese capital, as recommended from the perspective of a Lisbon native, my friend Inês:
Terreiro do Paço (Praça do Comércio)
With the city on one side and views of the ocean on the other, this plaza is located where the palace once was, before a big earthquake destroyed it in 1755. The emblematic arch that distinguishes the plaza features statues representing genius, glory and valor. It was built to commemorate the rebuilding of the city after the earthquake.
Created by the likeness of the Christ Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this monument was built as a signal of gratitude for Portugal not being greatly affected by World War II. The site compasses a sanctuary and galleries for exhibitions.
Ponte 25 de Abril
The longest bridge in Europe, this bridge connects the Lisbon city center with the municipality of Almada, where the Cristo Rei is located. It was named with the date of the Revolution of the Portuguese against the dictatorship of António de Oliveira Salazar on April 25th, 1974. Its resemblance to the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco, California makes it a must-see picture spot.
The Alfama is a little picturesque quarter in the hills to the south of the city. It has many spots from which you can have a panoramic view of the city and the ocean. It was built by the Moors, making it aesthetically rich. It has Moorish and Mudejar architectural styles within its infrastructure. The charming neighborhood is a bliss to walk through and appreciate a more authentic feel of the city.
Torre de Belém (UNESCO)
This iconic landmark lies at the foot of the Tagus river. The Tower of Belém was used during the Age of Discoveries as a point of embarkation for explorers. Its architecture combines Moorish, Romanesque and Gothic styles.
It can be recognized as one of the top, if not the top, touristic landmark in Lisbon.
Nearby you can also find the famous Pastéis de Belém bakery. This café makes the iconic Portuguese pastry with an original secret recipe originated in the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos next door.
Mosterio dos Jeronimos (UNESCO)
This monastery is recognized as an Unesco World Heritage site. The intricate details with which it was constructed can be attributed to the Manueline style and King Manuel I, who ordered the construction to honor the Age of Exploration.
Panorâmico de Monsanto
The building of an abandoned restaurant now serves as a spot where you can have some of the best views of the entire city of Lisbon. The restaurant closed in 2001 and the building was reopened as a viewpoint in 2017. The entrance is free, the inside of the building still holds some of the artistic elements it had in the beginning.
On the other hand, the scenic views are to die for. Even the Aqueduto das Águas Livres can be seen in all its glory.
Special thanks to my Lisboeta friend, Inês Teixeira, for her recommendations for this article.