Read Part 1 Here
Beside the charming single carriage tram, the rich and sweet egg custard tarts, Lisbon attracts tourists with its architecture style that is a mixture between Gothic, Baroque, and Neoclassicism. Taking a walk around Lisbon is to weave your way into narrow alleys that barely fit two people holding hands, to gaze at colourful houses cascading on the hills, and to admire churches and stations with entrance that is finely carved.
Most of all, don’t forget to look down, because Lisbon is full of streets and pavements with artistic mosaic patterns.
Bài viết tiếng Việt: Phải lòng Lisbon (Phần 2)
Take a walk to the city centre, down the Santa Justa street and you will immediately see the 45-meter “giant” Santa Justa lift built in 1900, connecting the city centre with Carmo square. Since it’s connected with the Carmo square, the lift is also known as the Carmo lift. In the beginning the lift was operate using steam, but an electrical system was implemented in 1907. The lift is decorated in Gothic style, with a different pattern on each level.
Instead of taking the lift to the viewing platform, we chose to walk to Carmo square, and from there took the passage connecting the square with the city centre, and then the spiral staircase to the platform. From this platform, tourists can let their eyes go as far as they wish to admire the Tagus river, the squares with buildings in Neoclassicism style…
Photo: The ruins of Carmo Convent
…and the Castelo de São Jorge in the distance.
The city of Lisbon is located on 7 hills, and the fortress Castelo de São Jorge is located at the centre of the tallest hill. Although the name is Castelo de São Jorge (The Castle of St Jorge), this structure was actually built by the Wisigoth for military purpose and not for residential purpose. In 1147, Alphonso Henrique (who after was the first king of Portugal), determined to take back Lisbon, surrounded and took back the fortress with the help of the Crusade. Castelo de São Jorge was then used as a royal resident, a theatre, a prison, and a weapon storage. After the earthquake in 1775, the fortress was left in ruins, and only in 1938 that António Salazar (old Prime Minister of Portugal) reconstructed the whole place and it was open for the public to visit.
Since it’s located on the tallest hill of Lisbon, this castle is the ideal place for you to observe the whole city of Lisbon spreading till the Atlantic Ocean. Tourists can also climb up to the towers and stroll along the small roads on the ramparts.
Talk about the cuisine, beside the fragrant egg custard tart Pastéis de nata, Lisbon is also famous for its seafood. Since the city is perched on the edge of the ocean, seafood is always fresh and abundant in Lisbon, from modest brasseries to high-end restaurants, and the most stood out is salted cod/bacalhau. I had the chance to taste this specialty in Martinho da Arcada restaurant, which is one of the oldest retaurants in Lisbon (it was founded in 1778), and was also a popular place among poets during that time, with tables covered in yellow cloth under the arcades, and the view of the huge Commercial Square.
The salted cod dish that I chose was simply grilled, served with steamed potatoes, green beans, broccoli and black olives, but it was seriously delicious. The salt was not overpowering at all, the fish was really firm and still manage to keep its natural sweetness. Lisboans usually joke that they can cook the salted cod in 365 different ways, each for a day of the year, and I kept wishing that I could have stayed in Lisbon for a few more days to taste more dishes from salted cod.
Beside restaurants, Time Out Mercado da Ribeira is also an ideal place for tourists to enjoy Lisbon cuisine as well as cuisine from neighboring countries, adapted to the style and flavours of Portugal.
This place was originally a market, but in 2014, the building was divided into two parts: one being kept as a fresh food market, and the other was turned into a food court, with a total of 35 stalls offering different regional specialties.
It was unfortunate that we visited this place after lunch, so we only took a walk around and could not taste anything since we were still too full.
Indulging myself in the curvy small alleys, with the grinding noise of the old trams, with the sweet scent of the egg custard tarts, with the lively sound of welcoming from seafood restaurants, with the ever changing colours of the squares, the 4 days passed by in a blink of an eye. The trip was so short that I still didn’t have a chance to experience the Fado music, to weave my way into the delightful maze of narrow streets of the Alfama, to breath in the ocean air in Cascais. But that is no problem, because all of that just make me so much more excited to come back to this peaceful and charming destination. See you soon, Lisbon. Até logo, Lisboa.