A Travellerspoint blog

Portugal

The Algarve.

The Algarve is the southern most region of Portugal.

I visited this region twice. The first time I booked a room in Faro. The second time I visited the Algarve it was for a meeting of a (ex) travel web site; Virtual Tourist. The base chosen was Albufeira. The meeting included a trip to Cabo San Vicente, Sagres (to see the fortress) and Silves.

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Faro is the capital of the Algarve and the largest city in this region. It has a nice old core and some pleasant areas.

Vila Adentro is the old core of Faro. This large area is enclosed by walls. Here you can visit the cathedral, the monastery of Nossa S. ra da Assuncao, the Palacio Episcopal and many streets bordered by white buildings.

Inside Vila Adentro there are also some cafes and a shop where you can buy books, postcards and souvenirs.

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The cathedral was built in the 13th century on the site of a mosque. It was largely damaged during the 1755 earthquake.

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The Museu Municipal is housed inside the Monasterio de Nossa S. ra da Assuncao. This dates from the 16th century.

Here you can see various archaelogical finds. For instance here you can find a large Roman mosaic showing Oceanus, god of the sea. This museum also houses a collection of ancient paintings dated from the XVI to the XIX centuries. These were taken from several churches in the Algarve.

The monastery has a nice two storey cloister with a shrub maze at the center.

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Unfortunately I didn' t find a restaurant where I had a very good lunch or dinner in Faro. Adega Nortenha was one of the best places to have dinner.

The restaurant is a very simple place and the food was good. At Adega Nortenha they serve various kinds of fish and meat dishes.

There is only a dining room here, but it can accomodate several people.

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Gardy is a cafe-restaurant located in the modern area of Faro. It was founded in 1953.

At Gardy' s they have a large selections of pastries, cakes and ice creams. Here you can also have a menu of the day, several kinds of sandwiches and other things. I usualy wento to Gardy' s to have a ice cream.

This confectionery has two dining rooms if my memory serves me well. There is an ouside area there as well.

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The only downside of this cafe is that they close it quite early in the evening.

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Alte is a nice village in inland Algarve. It is some 35 kilometers far from Faro. It has lots of cafes and restaurants.

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You can go to Alte by bus from Faro, but first you have to go to Loulè. Then you have to take another bus. Unfortunately in the summer there are few buses operating in the afternoon. So I' d recommend to vist Alte in the morning.

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Estoi is a white village some 11 kilometers far from Faro. It is well known for its palace and for the Roman ruins of Milreu. Unfortunately when I visited Estoi the palace was closed for restoration (it will be turned into a parador). It was not permitted even to visit the gardens. The ruins of Milreu have various ruins of buildings, but there aren' t many mosaics.

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Estoi has a nice main square with a church and a couple of cafes.

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Tavira is a nice town divided in two areas by the river Gilao. This is crossed by three bridges. One of these is of Roman origin and was reconstructed in the 17th century. The town has lots of churches, cafes and shops.

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I didn' t stay much in Tavira; perhaps three hours. Anyway I enjoyed its 13th castle. Its walls are well preserved and there is a nice garden inside. The castle has also some towers. I climbed to the top of most of these to enjoy the landscape over the town and some private gardens.

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Albufeira is a cliffside town that once was a fishing village. Today it is a holidays resort with lots of beaches. It is situated 39 km far from Faro.

Its name comes from the Arabic "Al buhera" which means; castle on the sea.

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I liked very much the old center in Albufeira with whitewashed houses and narrow streets. This town has a large main square with cafes, restaurants and a pedestrian street full of shops; rua 5 de Outubro. Here you also find the tourist office.

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There are lots of restaurants in Albufeira.

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Cantinho dos Estudiantes is a cafe - restaurant where I usually had breakfast and dinner. It was a convenient place for me because my room was nearby.

The menu here included pancakes, crepes, salads, hamburgers; American, English and French breakfasts.

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I booked a room for five nights at Vila Emilia; in Albufeira. It was a simple twin room with bathroom en suite. It had a small fridge and a television. There was no wi fi.

Vila Emilia is practically a group of buildings used as rooms. The rooms at Vila Emilia are cleaned every day, except on sundays and festivities.

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Outside the rooms there is a nice courtyard with several chairs and tables.

Note. You have to check in at Vila Branca hotel...https://vilabranca.com.pt/; then somebody will take you to your room. Vila Branca is some 150 meters far from Vila Emilia.

Vila Emilia is a bit uphill from the old town, but it is only fifteen minutes from there; by foot. There is a small supermarket and a cafe (Cantinho dos Estudiantes) nearby.

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Fumos and Mitos is quite a large shop where you can find various things to buy. It is situated in the modern area of Albufeira.

Here they sell cigars, cigarettes and alcooholic drinks. At Fumos and Mitos there is a good choice of Porto wine bottles and other kinds of wines.

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Other items you can buy at Fumos and Mitos are; postcards, stamps and books; I saw several very nice photo books over the Algarve here. Here they have candies and ice creams as well.

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One of the reasons why people go to Albufeira; as in other places in the Algarve is to spend some time on the beaches. There are around 25 beaches in Albufeira and nearby.

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Praia do Peneco (reachable through a tunnel) and Praia des Pescadores are the beaches closer to the city center. Other beaches are; Praia da Oura; at three kilometers from Albufeira. Praia Da Gala; at six kilometers from Albufeira old center and Praia de Santa Eulalia, which is around four kilometers from Albufeira.

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The bus station in Albufeira is situated around a couple of kilometers from the old core.

Inside there are some shops where you can find magazines, newspapers and souvenirs. There is a cafe and other facilities as the toilettes and an ATM machines.

You can take a taxi or a bus (the "Giro" buses) to go the the center of Albufeira.

The Giro buses go from the bus station to several places in Albufeira and its neighbours. For instance you can take a bus to Santa Eulalia, Oura, Ferreira and also to the Albufeira train station. Most of these buses operate every 30 minutes. Tickets are sold by the driver.

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Caldas de Monchique is a little spa town located in a narrow gorge some kilometers far from Portimao. It is known since the Roman times for its sulphurus waters. They are said to be good for rheumatism, respiratory and digestive problems.

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Here there is a nice park which is part of a wood where there are paths, several stone chairs, tables and running water.

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Caldas de Monchique has some cafes, restaurants and three or four hotels.

It is here that the famous mineral water gets bottled.

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Silves is a beautiful town situated on a hill.

It was settled by Phoenicians; then it became a Roman city (Sibilis). From the 8th century it was names Xelb; it was a Moorish city.

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Silves is overlooked by a very large castle. It was built between the 8th and the 13th centuries by the Arabs; probably on the site of a late Roman or Visigothic fortifications from the 4th - 5th centuries.

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The castle once had walls that encircled the town. It has eleven towers. Inside there is a small museum, a cafe and a beautiful garden.

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Silves has a cathedral; built in the 13th century on the site of a mosque. It was destroyed by the earthquake of 1755 and later reconstructed. I didn' t visit it, probably because it was closed around lunch time.

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Cape Saint Vincent is the most south westernly point in Europe. It takes its name from Saint Vincent; a priest martyred by the Romans. Centuries ago it was thought as the end of the world. Here it is where Henry the Navigator is believed to have set up his school of navigation in the fifteen century.

I enjoyed much the high cliffs and the ocean when I visited Cape Saint Vincent.

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At Cape Saint Vincent you can see a lighthouse built in1846. It is said it is one of the most powerful in Europe.

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After your visit to this place you can head to the Fortaleza de Sagres. This fortress was originally built in the 15th century and rebuilt in 1793. It was restored in the mid 20th century. It is a very large fortress.

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There is a nice church inside; the church of Nossa Senhora da Graca that dates from 1579. It replaced the original church of Dom Henrique of 1459.

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I had a long stroll into the fortress not realizing my companions (Virtual Tourist members) were waiting for me on the bus. I was in the Algarve for a VT meeting that time I visited the fortress, Cabo San Vincente and Silves.

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Cataplana is both the name of a dish and a pan.

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It is shaped like two clam shells hinged at one end. Traditionally it was made of copper. It is thought it was introduced in the country by the Moors.

You can buy a cataplana in the Algarve. They are quite expensive.

Cataplana as food is a slow cooked stew of fish, seafood, chorizo (a kind of salami) and vegetables. Here the food is put inside raw and is let simmer after having clamped the saucepan.

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In the Algarve you will surely notice the ornamental chimneys on the roof of the houses. There are not many information about these, but it is said that the builders use to ask the customers how many days they wanted their chimneys building last. So that they could calculate the cost of the chimney they were about to make that was based on the time that this would take to build.

These chimneys have cylindrical, prismatic, rectangular or square shapes. Some houses have four or five of them. Usually only one is functional.

Posted by Maurizioagos 09:20 Archived in Portugal Tagged the virtual algarve faro sagres alte albufeira tavira estoi silves tourist.com Comments (0)

Some day trips from Lisbon.

You can do several day trip from Lisbon; even without a car. For instance you could head to Cascàis, to Sintra and to many other towns and villages.

I' d also recommend a visit to the palace of Queluz. I re visited it some years ago.

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The national palace of Queluz was begun in 1747 on order by king Pedro III and completed in 1787. It was originally a hunting lodge.

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Inside this palace you can visit the Throne Room, the Music Room; the Ambassadors Room and many other smaller rooms. There is even a chapel.

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Once you visited the palace you can spend some time to explore its gardens.

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One wing of the palace is used as a residence for foreign head of state visiting Portugal.

The palace is seat of many concerts and exibitions.

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Cascais is a small town on the Atlantic coast, located some 30 km west of Lisbon. Once it was a fishing village. Today it is a famous tourist resort.

One of the attractions of Cascais is the Palace of Castro Guimarães. It was built in 1902. It is opened to visitors.

The Igreja Matriz (the main church) has some paintings by Josefa de Obidos. Unfortunately I couldn' t see them, because the church was closed when I visited Cascais..

If you happen to find the church and the palace closed you could rest on one of the beaches of the town, have a good lunch at a restaurant and do some shopping. There are lots of shops in Cascais!

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The Palace of the Counts of Castro Guimarães. It is opened to visitors.

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A fountain near the palace.

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The palace is surround by a large park. The Parque Marechal Carmona.

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A beautiful boy who lived at the park.

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Dom Pedro I is my favourite restaurant in Cascais. It is a small reastaurant situated just some meters from the town hall. It is well hidden in a narrow street, but you will easily find it.

At Dom Pedro I you can sample various typical Portuguese dishes. They also have a menu at a fixed price which includes soup, a main dish, a dessert, a drink and a coffee.

It has only a small dining room and a small outdoor area where you can have your meal if the weather is fine.

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There is a beautiful shopping center on the road that connects Cascais to the Guincho beach. Its name is Casa da Guia. This is a restored 19th century house. There are around 20 shops inside. Here you can buy furniture, clothes, some souvenirs, flowers and other things.

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In its gardens you can find some kiosks, restaurants and cafes. Casa da Guia is also a place to rest having a meal or a drink.

I went there by foot from the center of Cascais and it was a long walk. So; I' d recommend to take a taxi or a bus to get there.

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Sintra is a hilltop village made by three areas. Estefania; the modern area; with the train and the bus stations. Sintra-Vila; with the Royal Palace. Sao Pedro; located at some kilometers from Sintra-Vila.

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Sintra National Palace. This palace served as a summer residence for the Portuguese kings since the early 14th century. Probably it has Moorish origin. What you see today mostly consists of the buildings ordered by king Joao I (around 1415) and by king Manuel I (1497 and 1530).

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Inside you can see various rooms and a chapel. Some rooms opened to visitors are; Sala dos Cisnes (= swans) with the ceiling divided into panels decorated with swans. Sala das Pegas (= magpies) and Sala dos Brasoes, with a domed ceiling decorated with 72 coats of arms of the king and noble families.

You can spot the palace from afar because it has two huge white chimneys.

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Artnis is quite a large shop where you can find a good choice of home textils and various other items.

Here you can find table cloths, napkins, dish cloths, bath towels, aprons, soaps and other things. At Arnis they also sell clothes and accessories for small children.

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This is a fine shop to look for some presents to take home.

I' ve read that Artnis is "Sintra" written in reverse order. I don' t know if the proprietors of this shop thought about it when they choose a name for it.

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Quinta da Regaleira is a estate built between 1904 and 1910. It was designed by an Italian architect; Luigi Manini for a wealthy Brazilian merchant; Antonio Augusto Carvalho Monteiro.

The palace has five floors. Here you can visit the kitchen, and several rooms. You can visit the palace with a guided tour or by yourself.

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Here you can visit a palace, built in neo-Manueline style, a chapel built in 1904 and a very beautiful garden with several fountains, grottoes, turrets and two artificial lakes.

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There is a nice sculptures museum in Sintra; The museum Anjos Teixeira. It is housed inside a former watermill built at the beginning of the XX century.

If you are interested in sculpture you should visit this museum. Here you can see a large collection of sculptures made by two local artists named Anjos Teixeira (Pedro Augusto dos Anjos Teixeira; the father and Arturo Gaspar dos Anjos Teixeira; the son). Besides the sculptures here you can see lots of drawings and plaster studies.

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Palacio da Pena is a palace situated quite far from the center of Sintra.

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This palace is a mixture of Arab minarets, towers and domes. It was built between 1840 and 1850.

Prince of Baviera D. Fernando of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, husband of D. Maria II ordered it to be build on the site of the ruins of the monastery of Our Lady of Pena.

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Inside the palace you can see a large ball room, the kitchen and several rooms.

The palace has been painted yellow and pink in the 90' s. These were its original colours.

It is quite expensive to visit the palace, but there are some discounts if you buy a special ticket that entitles you to visit this palace and also the national palace, and maybe some other attractions in Sintra.

A note; don' t leave Sintra without having tried some queijadas! The queijada is one of the two typical pastries of Sintra (the other is travesseiro). They are made of a thin pastry case filled with a mixture of cheese, flour, sugar, egg yolk and cinnamon. Queijadas are sold at some other shops and cafes in Sintra.

Its recipe dates back to the 13th or 14th century. It seems that in the middle ages they were used to pay part of the fixed rent of landed properties in the Sintra area.

Some notes about the buses in Sintra.

Bus n. 434 takes a circular route from Sintra to various attractions in the area; including the National Palace, the Moorish Castle and the Pena Palace.

Bus 435 stops near the Museo do Brinquedo and the National Palace (Sintra Vila) then goes to Quinta da Regaleira; to the Palace of Seteais and to Montserrate.

These buses depart from a bus stop near the train station. Tickets can be bought from the driver.

Note; if you have to go only to Sintra Vila, where the National Palace is; take n. 435 bus. You will only pay some cents. Tickets for bus n. 434 costs lots more. I suppose around 5 or 6 euros per person.

Posted by Maurizioagos 01:18 Archived in Portugal Tagged sintra cascais queluz. Comments (6)

Lisbon.

Lisbon is a large city situated on seven hills; like Rome. It is the capital of Portugal.

It is not possible to write about all the things to see in this city in a single post. In fact, there are lots of things to see in Lisbon.

I have visited this city several times, but I have still to see some things here.

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Rossio is one of the main squares in Lisbon. Its official name is "praca Dom Pedro IV". Long ago it was used as cattle market, public execution place, bullfight arena and carnival ground. In the middle of this square a tall column with a statue of king Pedro IV is located. This square is surrounded by the Dona Maria II National Theatre, by various cafes, shops and some restaurants.

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Rua das Portas De Santo Antao is a pedestrian street near Rossio where you find a good choice of restaurants, some guesthouses, several shops and a small bar where you can have a glass of ginjinha. This is a drink made by infusing sour cherries in alcohol; adding sugar and other ingredients. Ginjinha is a typical drink in Lisbon, Alcobaca and Obidos. I am sorry but I haven' t any picture of this street.

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Confeitaria Nacional is a cafe and a confectionery, but it is also a restaurant. It was founded in the XIX century.

The cafe is on the ground floor. The restaurant is on the first floor.

The restaurant is divided in two areas; one of these is a self service. The other area is a restaurant. There is no need to say that you will spend less if you order your food at the self service area.

At Confeitaria Nacional they usually serve two menus of the day.

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Tram n. 28 is a yellow vintage tram. It departs from praca Martin Moniz to the Graca and Alfama districts. Then it heads to the cathedral and the church of Saint Anthony. It carries on to the Baixa (the lower area of the city) and to the districts of Chiado and the Barrio Alto. Its last stop is at Campo Ourique station.

The tram stops near lots of main sights. Its entire route lasts around 45 minutes. You can make use of it as a budget hop-on hop-off bus.

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The Santa Justa lift (elevador in Portuguese) was designed by an apprentice of Gustave Eiffel and was opened in 1902.

This lift connects Baixa (the lower city) to the Bairro Alto (the upper city) by a passageway. It has two cabins (one to gou up and another to go down) which can house 24 people each.

At the top of this lift there is a platform with a cafe. From here you can enjoy a beautiful landscape over the Rossio, the Tagurs river, the castle and some other areas of the city.

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Wiev from the top of the Santa Justa lift.

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Another wiev from the top of the lift.

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The miradouros are vantage points. These are mostly gardens that are usually located at the highest points of the city. From these you can enjoy beautiful views over the city. There is a cafe at some of them.

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Here's a list of some miradouros.

Miradouro das Portas do Sol. From here you can have a good view over the Alfama' s rooftops.

Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara. You will have a great view of the castle for this lookout point.

Miradouro de Santa Luzia. From here you can have views over the Alfama' s rooftops, over the Tagus river and the dome of the National Pantheon.

Miradouro de Santa Catarina. From here you can have a good view over the 28 de Abril bridge.

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Leitaria Academica is one of my favourite restaurants in Lisbon.

On a window of this restaurant you can read a small list with the names of the food available that day. Almost every dish includes some vegetables.

Everytime I visited this restaurant the food I had was good and the personnel (I think they are a family) really kind.

Leitaria Academica is a small restaurant, but there are some tables outside; on the Largo do Carmo. This is a nice and large square near the entrance of the Carmo monastery. See the previous two pictures.

I liked very much their bacalau (cod fish) with nata and lasagna with salmon.

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Saint Vicente de Fora monastery.

This church (and its monastery) was located outside the city walls. De Fora means "0n the outside". It was dedicated to Saint Vincent of Saragossa; the patron saint of Lisbon.

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The construction of the present church started in 1582 and was completed in 1629. It was built on the site of a previous church that had been built around 1147. The monastery was finished in the XVIII century.

There is a very rich collections of azulejos inside the monastery.

Into the monk's old refectory is housed the pantheon of the king and queens of the Braganca dinasty. They ruled from 1670 to 1910.

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Alfama is one of Lisbon' s oldest area. It was founded by the Arabs. They named it Al hama could mean springs or bath. It survived the 1755 earthquake. This district stretches between Saint George castle and the banks of the Tagus river.

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Have a stroll here and you' ll see some small squares; a maze of narrow streets, various staircases, whitewashed houses, restaurants, cafes and shops. It feels like being in a village inside the city when you are at Alfama.

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Belém is a district of Lisbon. It is located six kilometers from the city center. It was the starting point for many discovery voyages. For instance it was from here that Vasco da Gama embarked on his voyage from Portugal to India in 1497.

One of ithe main sights in Belém is the Jeronimos monastery (1502-1551); a huge white building with a magnificient carved portal and a large two-storeys cloister.

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The construction of this monastery was commissioned by king Manuel I to commemorate Vasco da Gama' s voyage; to give thanks to the Virgin Mary for its success and to create a royal pantheon for the Aviz-Beja dinasty.

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The monastery was built on the site of a hermitage founded by Henry the Navigator around 1450. They begun to build it in 1502 and it took nearly the entire 16th century to complete it. Its predominant architectural style is Manueline. It was built in stages and designed by three architects. Diogo Boitac designed the lower floor in Manueline style.

The church of the monastery is also the resting place of Vasco Da Gama, Manuel I, his wife Maria and Luis De Camoes.

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The naval museum (Museu de Marinha) is a large museum with lots of exibits. These include paintings, lots of scale models of ships from the Age of Discoveries onwards; navigations instruments, maps and other things related to the sea travels. This museum occupies a part of the western wing of the Jerònimos monastery.

What I liked most at this museum were the royal barges. These are large boats used by the Portuguese kings and queens. I also liked very much the cabins of the royal yacht Amàlia; dating from 1900.

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A cabin of the royal yacht Amàlia.

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Another cabin of the same yacht.

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After the visit to the monastery you could have a break at the Antiga Confetaria de Belém. This is a very large cafe-confectionery with several rooms. Some of these are decorated with azulejos (blue tiles).

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Here you can have some good custard tarts called pasteis de Belém.

These pastries are served warm and sprinkled with cinnamon and/or sugar (if you like). Their original receipt is kept secret. Only three persons know it. This sweet is believed was created before the 18th century by the nuns at the monastery of Jerònimos.

Antiga Confeitaria de Belém was the first place to sell these tarts since 1837.

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The coaches museum (Museu Nacional dos Coches) is also located in Belém. It is housed in a two storeys building that was an old horse riding arena used for training horses and for horse riding exibitions. Here you can see a large collection of horse drawn carriages, chaises and sedan chairs dated from the 17th to the 19th centuries. These belonged to the Portuguese royal family and nobility.

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Once you visited the ground floor (it is made of two rooms) you can climb a staircase to the first floor where you can see several portraits of the Braganca dinasty and various other things.

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After quite a long walk you arrive to the tower of Belém. It was built between 1515 and 1520. This is the only monument built mostly in Manueline style in Lisbon (some of its decorations date from the renovation of the 1840). It served as a lookout point over the Tagus river and to defend the port of Lisbon. It was used as a fortress, a prison, a lighthouse and also as a telegraph office and a custom post.

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Mercado da Ribeira is a large covered market that has been opened since 1892.

On its ground floor there are lots of stalls with fresh produce as fruits and vegetables, meat, fish and other food. There was a good choice of food last time I visited it.

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On the ground floor there is also a food court with 35 kiosks where you can sample various food specialities. It occupies a half of this market. Here you can have lunch, a ice cream (see Santini ice creams) or a pastry.

As it is situated opposite Cais do Sodrè train station, a vist to this market is a good place to spend some time if you have to wait for your train.

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Coringa is another favourite restaurant of mine. It was very convenient for me because it was just some meters far from my hotel. Address; Av. Fontes Pereira de Melo nº 3B. Metro; Parque.

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This restaurant is modern furnished. It has a dining room and some tables outside.

The menu of the day there consists in a meat or fish dish with vegetables. It doesn' t include a drink and a dessert or coffee. It is a budget choice anyway. Their menu a la carte has a good choice of fish and meat dishes.

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The Oceanario is more than an aquarium. In fact this structure was set to recreate the five ocean habitats. Here you' ll see various kinds of fishes and other sea creatures.

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I liked very much watching at some large groups of fishes swimming; the mantas that seemed to fly and two otters swimming on their back. There are also some penguins there.

The Oceanario is located within the modern area of Parque das Nações that was developed for the World Expo held in Lisbon in 1998.

Lisbon has lot more to offer beside the attractions and the places I wrote about in this post!

Posted by Maurizioagos 11:12 Archived in Portugal Tagged lisbon portugal. Comments (0)

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