Damir Klekar i Mila Batinica
Source: Croatian Traveller
Lisbon is a monumental city spreading on the mouth of river Tejo into the Atlantic, and a revelation for all those who come to visit it for the first time, because the building facades covered in typical ceramic tiles, and its narrow medieval streets that are resounding with the sounds of the traditional Portuguese music of Fado, as well as the broad avenues with the Art Nouveau and Art Decor architecture will leave you breathless and make you come back to the Portugal’s capital.
The territorial foundation of the city is made of four quarters: Baixa, Alfama, Bairro Alto and Belem. The central part of Lisbon, known as Baixa, was created in the 18th century near the interesting square of Rossio, and the perhaps even more impressive square of Praca do Comercio, that are connected by the main Lisbon street of Avenida de Liberdad. Baixa is in fact the lower part of the city built after the great earthquake that destroyed Alfama in 1755.
Alfama is located east of the Praca do Comercio arcade, and includes the majestic Castelo de Sao Jorge (castle of St. George), with seven towers and belvederes that open the view of the entire Lisbon and river Tejo. Alfama is a typical quarter of the old Lisbon, with its narrow streets that you can wander for hours beneath the arches that carry the air of the ancient medieval times.
Opposite Alfama is the old quarter of Bairro Alto, with Baixa between them. Bairro Alto is currently very “in” and a quarter for the night out on the town, a place where the entertainment is lively and Fado melancholic. It is most exciting to reach Bairro Alto by funicular or trams that drive along the old part of town, ascending and descending on the seven hills of Lisbon. However, the most interesting way to reach Bairro Alta from Baxia is the Elevedor de Santa Justa elevator, designed and built by the French architect Gustave Eiffel, father of the Eiffel tower. This romantic neo-Gothic structure was opened in 1902, and has two elevators that can transport 25 people in one go to the height of 45 meters.
Another region of Lisbon you should not miss is the monument honoring the discoveries of the great Portuguese seafarers Padrao dos Descobrimentos, erected in honor of Henry the Navigator and Vasco da Gama.
Park of Nations was built eleven years ago when Lisbon was host to the world exhibition EXPO, as an urban area on the coast. Near the Parque das Nacoes is the Vasco da Gama bridge that crosses the river Tejo. At seventeen and a half kilometers long, it is the longest bridge in Europe. The Park of Nations is also home to the impressive Oceanario de Lisboa. The Lisbon Oceanarium is the biggest in Europe and one of the most beautiful and impressive in the world, with more than eight thousand flora and fauna specimens from all world seas.
The central aquarium, with a capacity of five million liters, is truly impressive. It is twelve meters tall and more than 300 square meters big. Lisbon Oceanarium is conceived in the way so it is possible to see different Ocean habitats: Atlantic, Pacific, Indian Ocean and the Antarctic. Especially interesting is the tour of aquarium from different levels, on two floors, so numerous fish can be viewed and photographed from various perspectives. As you descend, it might seem as if you are diving deeper and deeper into the ocean.
Still, of all the landmarks of Lisbon that truly are impressive, one of the things makes Lisbon a very special destination and a city with a special atmosphere – its people. The people of Lisbon are unbelievably friendly, but unobtrusively, which is very important, and very outgoing. People of Lisbon love going out at night, so we recommend you pick the places the Portuguese people go out at night, and some of these places can be found in the already mentioned Bairro Alto or the river docks. Going out in Bairro Alto or the Dokes is not any more expensive than going out at night in Zagreb, if not cheaper.
We recommend getting around Lisbon in a cab. Cab drivers are low key and quiet, unless you start the conversation first. We also recommend public transport. Still, the best, cheapest and simplest mode of transportation is the Lisbon metro. Metro stations in Lisbon are truly fascinating, because they are full of various art, from azulejos – Portuguese mosaics, sculptures, even huge wall comic comics, so sometimes you might wish that waiting to catch the next train lasts even longer than the maximum four minutes.