IDN Creative & Strategic Forum Lisbon 2017
Downtown – Baixa
The Baixa district is the heart of Lisbon, with magnificent broad squares, pedestrian streets, grand avenues and boutique shopping boulevards. The district is very popular among tourists, and has many of Lisbon’s major tourist attractions, along with a huge variety of restaurants and excellent hotels.
It was completely rebuilt after the great Earthquake of 1755 with streets flanked by uniform, neoclassical buildings.
In Baixa you can see the famous portuguese paving, calçada portuguesa, one of Lisbon’s trademarks. Playing a huge role in creating the city’s special atmosphere, as it reflects all of the light that falls on it, it is also one of the oldest features of the city. Made using limestone cubes shaped and placed by hand by skilful craftsmen, the designs can be geometric, figurative or specific depending on the particular location and the tastes of the time. Enjoy the undulating pattern in Avenida da Liberdade or stand back and observe the symmetry of the design in Chiado. It’s worth walking down the same street twice, once to look at the buildings and another to discover the impressive designs on the ground.
Baixa has a vibrant atmosphere, and is where the tourists should start their tour of Lisbon.
From Baixa you can go to:
Chiado – where you can see the architecture, special sights of the city, trendy and fashion stores
Terreiro do Paço – a huge square alongside the river Tagus.
Bairro Alto – Full of shops and bars
Alfama – one of the most traditional neighbourhoods of Lisbon
Avenida da Liberdade (Liberty Avenue) – A vibrant avenue, full of internationally renowned top brand stores,
Where to shop: Rua Augusta / Avenida da Liberdade / Feira da Ladra
- Elevador de Santa justa (Santa Justa’s Lift or Carmo lift)
- Castelo de S. Jorge (St George’s Castle)
- Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara
- Estação do Rossio (Rossio’s train station)
- Santa Maria National Theater
- Arco do Triumfo (Triumphal Arch in Rua Augusta – featured in the Gulliver’s Travels series)
- Igreja de S. Roque (São Roque Church – THE WORLD’S MOST EXPENSIVE CHAPEL)
What to do
Tram 28 takes riders on a tourist-friendly route, passing through some of the city’s most notable neighborhoods including Graça, Baixa and Bairro Alto, ald also popular attractions such as St. George’s Castle and Alfama.
Along with a scenic route, the cars themselves are also considered to be part of the experience. Many of Lisbon’s trams, including some used on the Tram 28 route, are the same that were used in World War II, so don’t expect air conditioning, or a smooth trip up and around the area’s hills. But don’t worry, recent travelers said it’s all part of the tram’s charm. Some visitors recommend taking the tram up the steep Alfama hill and then walking back down to explore the neighborhood. Due to the tram’s popularity, they tend to get crowded quickly, so make sure to arrive early or later in the day to avoid long lines.
Torre de Belém (Belém Tower)
Built in 1515 as a fortress to guard the entrance to Lisbon’s harbor, the Belem Tower was the starting point for many of the voyages of discovery, and for the sailors it was the last sight of their homeland.
It is a monument to Portugal’s Age of Discovery, often serving as a symbol of the country, and UNESCO has listed it as a World Heritage monument.
Built in the Manueline style, it incorporates many stonework motifs of the Discoveries, sculptures depicting historical figures such as St. Vincent and an exotic rhinoceros that inspired Dürer’s drawing of the beast.
The architect, Francisco de Arruda, had previously worked on Portuguese fortifications in Morocco, so there are also Moorish-style watchtowers and other Moorish influences. Facing the river are arcaded windows, delicate Venetian-style loggias, and a statue of Our Lady of Safe Homecoming, a symbol of protection for sailors on their voyages.
Miradouro de Santa Catarina
Behind Camões Square, Rua do Loreto separates Bairro Alto from the neighborhood of Santa Catarina. This area of endearing streets with pastel-painted houses has a few restaurants and bars but is mostly known for its garden with a terrace offering river views. Facing the terrace, the river, and 25 de Abril Bridge is a stone figure of Adamastor, a mythical sea monster from the epic poem “The Lusiads.” There is also a pleasant cafe where locals go to admire the dawn view over the Tagus.
Standing behind it is a yellow mansion housing the Museum of Pharmacy which presents the historic evolution and technology of pharmacy through instruments, old flasks, and other pharmaceutical paraphernalia.
Mosteiro dos Jerónimos (Monastery of St Jerome)
The Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, also known as the Monastery of St. Jerome or the Jerónimos Monastery, is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in Lisbon’s Belém district. Exemplifying Portugal’s Manueline style – a highly ornate style of architecture named after the king of the time (Manuel I) – the monastery was built during the Age of Discoveries to honor explorer Vasco Da Gama, as he and his crew spent their last night in Portugal at the site before embarking on their famous journey to India in 1498. During the 17th century, the structure served as a monastery for monks, whose job was to comfort sailors and pray for the king. It eventually became a school and orphanage until 1940. Today, visitors can explore the grounds at their own pace while admiring the detail present in the intricately carved pillars, cloisters and vaulted ceilings.
Tourists can also stop by the Chapel of St. Jerome and the tombs, which contain notable Portugese people in history including a handful of royals and Vasco de Gama himself. Travelers found the attraction’s unique architecture to be stunning, and recommended a visit for that reason alone. However, some travelers complained about long lines, so plan to get here early to beat the crowds
Considered the best aquarium in the world by Tripadvisor, in 2015, Oceanário de Lisboa creates emotions through the oceans and its 8,000 marine creatures. Among these, rays, coral reefs, sharks and sea otters. Touring through the permanent exhibition is an exalting experience for the senses. A big central aquarium, with five million litres of saltwater, symbolizes the Global Ocean.
Surrounding this big aquarium, four marine habitats create the illusion that there is only one aquarium. The visit it’s between two levels, at surface and underwater. The temporary exhibition, “Forests Underwater by Takashi Amano”, presents tropical forests and their aquatic systems through the largest nature aquarium in the world, created by the famous aquascaper, Takashi Amano. An experience of pure engagement with these environments, where art, beauty and nature are perfectly connected.
5. Jardim Botânico (Botanical Garden)
Although covering 10 acres, this enchanting botanical garden in the Principe Real district is almost invisible from the surrounding streets.
Laid out between 1858 and 1873, it was once considered the best botanical garden in Southern Europe.
Today, although showing some clear signs of neglect, it still has one of the largest collections of subtropical vegetation in Europe.
Its dense vegetation and exotic plants make it one of the most calming spots in the city, with over 18,000 species from all over the world (each one is neatly labeled).
They include a large number of cycads, weird Australian trees with twisting colossal trunks, and ancient palm-ferns that have been around since the time of the dinosaurs.
MUDE – Design and Fashion Museum
International design and style
Lisbon’s exceptional Design Museum is one of the world’s leading museums of 20th century design and several critics see its collection as the best in Europe.
It opened in 1999 in the Belem Cultural Center and closed in August 2006 only to reopen in a new space in 2009.
It was renamed the Design and Fashion Museum or simply MuDe(which also means “change” in Portuguese), and now also includes Portuguese businessman Francisco Capelo’s fashion collection made up of 1200 couture pieces, including a famous Jean Desses gown that Renee Zellweger wore to the 2001 Oscars and Christian Dior’s landmark 1947 New Look.
The design collection consists of works by some 230 designers representing trends in design from around the world. There are works by design icons such as Phillipe Starck, Charles Eames, George Nelson, Arne Jacobsen, Paul Henningsen, Vener Panton, Masanori Umeda, Henning Koppel, and Tom Dixon, and includes almost 200 design classics embracing innovative furnishings, glass, and jewelry from 1937 to the present.
In total it’s 1000 design objects and over 1200 pieces of fashion by famous names such as Jean Paul Gaultier, Vivienne Westwood, and Yves Saint Laurent.
Belém Cultural Center
Lisbon’s cultural and arts center
Originally controversial for its striking modern architecture next to the historical Jeronimos Monastery, the Belem Cultural Center (simply referred to as CCB) was built to host Portugal’s presidency of the European Union in 1992.
It has since become the host of numerous international exhibitions (from photography to mixed-media installations), cultural events and congresses, and is also an arts complex with the city’s largest auditorium.
For years it was also home to the Design Museum, but that space is now occupied by the Berardo Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art.
The terrace cafe on the first floor with a garden overlooking the river and the Discoveries Monument is a great place to relax.
CALOUSTE GULBENKIAN MUSEUM
Northeast of Eduardo VII Park is the Gulbenkian Museum, one of the world’s great museums and one of Europe’s unsung treasures. Part of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, it houses a magnificent collection of Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Islamic, Asian, and European art. It was substantially renovated and modernized in 2001 (many of its masterpieces were on display in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art during renovation), and can’t be missed during a visit to Lisbon. This is one of the world’s finest private art collections, amassed over a period of 40 years by oil magnate Calouste Gulbenkian, who was one of the 20th century’s wealthiest men. In his later years he adopted Portugal as his home, and donated all of his stupendous art treasures to the country when he died in 1955 at the age of 86.
Of the many highlights is a haunting gold Egyptian mummy mask, an exquisite 2700-year-old alabaster bowl, a series of bronze cats and other priceless treasures in the Egyptian section, a stunning collection of Hellenic coins and a 2400-year-old Attic vase in the Greek and Roman section, rare pieces of Chinese porcelain, Japanese prints, and rich 16th and 17th century Persian tapestries.
In the huge European art section (many of the works were bought from the Hermitage in St. Petersburg), are pieces by Rembrandt (Potrait of an Old Man, and Alexander the Great), Peter Paul Rubens (Portrait of Helene Fourment), Claude Monet, Van Dyck, Ghirlandaio (15th century Portrait of a girl), Rogier Van der Weyden (St. Catherine), and Pierre-Ausguste Renoir (Potrait of Madame Claude Monet), along with French furniture and textiles.
There’s also a white marble statue of Diana by French sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon, silver made by François-Thomas Germain once used by Catherine the Great, and René Lalique jewelry considered to be unique in the world.
Sharing the lovely serene gardens of the Gulbenkian Museum is the Modern Art Center, containing modern and contemporary Portuguese and foreign art displayed on two floors. There are more than 10,000 items, including works by Paula Rego, Almada Negreiros, Souza Cardoso, and Vieira da Silva.
Vehicles made for royalty
One of Lisbon’s most visited sights, the Coaches Museum (Museu Nacional dos Coches) has the largest and most valuable collection of its type in the world. It opened in 1905 in a richly-decorated 18th-century royal riding school that was part of Belem Palace, illustrating the ostentation and staggering wealth of the old Portuguese elite. On its 110th anniversary it moved across the street to a new building designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha. The new premises made it possible to also show accessories and carriages that weren’t previously shown.
Each carriage is more magnificent than the other, showing how artisans went to extraordinary lengths to make their vehicles stand out. One of the most outstanding has gilded figures on the tailgate showing Lisbon crowned by Fame and Abundance. Another one, used in an embassy to France’s Louis XIV, depicts cherubs with bat’s wings. Yet another splendid example was built in 1716 for Portugal’s ambassador to Pope Clement XI, decorated with allegorical scenes representing Portuguese military and maritime triumphs.
More wonderful examples belonged to several European royal families, from Spain to England, including a 19th-century coach built in London last used by Queen Elizabeth II on a state visit.
The old building still presents several wonderful examples, and may be visited on its own.
An indestructible feat of engineering
Built in 1746 to bring the city its first clean drinking water, Lisbon’s remarkable aqueduct is made up of 109 stone arches, which were the tallest stone arches in the world when they were built. Its total length is 58km (36 miles), but the most visible part are the 14 arches crossing the Alcantara Valley (the best views are from Campolide train station), the tallest of which rise to a spectacular 65m (213ft) from the ground with a span of 29m (95ft). Astoundingly, it all survived the 1755 earthquake.
The Water Museum and the Mãe de Agua reservoir explain this rare and complex 18th century water supply system, a space that was awarded the Council of Europe Museum Prize in 1990. The cool stone chamber of the Mãe de Agua site is also often used for art exhibitions.