The Jeronimos Monastery
Oooooh, I was so looking forward to visit this cloister! I had seen so many pictures of this Gothical and royal place, I was already in love with it before we even stepped one foot inside. I thought I couldn’t have chosen a better way to spend my birthday. But destiny decided differently. It was a bank holiday and the cloister was closed.
As I was also very tiered at the beginning of our trip through Portugal, we decided to do the typical tourist thing and bought a ticket to the hop-on-hop-of tour. As we entered Belem and passed by the Jeronimos Cloister, we already faced the uncomfortable truth, there where tourist everywhere. Even now the building was closed, the area was surrounded by tourists.
After all, maybe it was good that we couldn’t go inside on the 10th of June, at least now we were prepared for what was coming and the mass tourism would not surprise us anymore.
Eventually the tourist didn’t even bother me anymore as I was so impressed by the beauty of this building. This architectural beauty is built in Manual style, al Portuguese late Gothic style with influences from Spanish Plateresque style, Mudéjar, Italian urban architecture and some Flemish elements.
We started with the Church chapel, although I was actually way more eager to enter the courtyards, Ben had the idea to start here. I had seen many catholic churches already and I wasn’t really impressed when stepping inside, except for enormous space especially in height will always make me feel a bit small. What mostly got my attention was the ceiling, with its round weird decorations. Manuel style was new for me and I hadn’t seen this circling architecture before. Although Manuel style was mainly based on the late gothic style, this was wat made it different for me.
After the church we finaly got in to the two layered courtyard. There is one simple reason why I have a weakness for courtyards. It’s the combination of being outside in a flowering garden with fresh air, when on the same time being in an impressive building decorated from the top to the ground. This is really all I need to awaking the childish princes in me.
Got your attention? You surely wish to see this:
Ponte 25 de Abril
Feeling the vibes of San Francisco in Europe’s Lisbon, the Ponte 25 de Abril looks almost like a copy of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. This is not surprising as it is built by the same company. Meant to survive earthquakes, just like in San Francisco. There is really not much to tell about this bridge, only that it is a quite impressive one and on its best during sunsets.
Funfact, Ben and I crossed the bridge by care and the most right part is covered with metal grids with made the trip to the other side of Lisbon very noisy.
This is not at all a touristic place and I am sure many of you will prefer to avoid this area. However after I have lived in Athens for over two years and I know what it is like to live in an area where people have no money but anyway find a way to enjoy life the fullest by giving each day the most of it, I cannot help myself but felt a bit home here.
It is not that I am ashamed of this, not at all, but I can imagine my wealthy privileged family and friends, born and raised in the middle class areas of the Netherlands, where everything is in perfect symmetry, every garden is in perfect condition, even every street is perfectly made with not one stone missing anywhere, I can imagine that they not understanding this part of me at all. Why would you think of living in an area where houses are empty or in bad condition? Why would you like to live in a house where your interior does not look like it comes straight out of a magazine but rather like your grandmother had decorated it? Where cats and dogs live on the street and children are playing in the streets in the late night hours, while school is waiting for them tomorrow.
I think you can only now why when you have spent some time in these parts of Europe. When you have experienced that this is where food taste the best. This is where neighboors bring you home made cookies because they are truly interested in who you are rather than feeling good about themselves. This is where you can hear your neighboors TV withougt anyone bothering, while on the same time have a life show on your balcony from two weirdos dancing through the streets.
While entering the Almada area, it was the first time I saw the poor side of Portugal. I was a bit shocked, because after two weeks traveling through the country, I wasn’t expecting it anymore. But while walking through the streets with colourful houses, surrounded by real lisbonease people, not tourist, I felt so comfortable and so great. It was busy at the food tavernas, although it was already quit late. It smelled good also, I am sure the food here would have been much better than in the touristic part where Ben and I had already consumed dinner.
Ben and I walked to a place where we could enjoy the sunset and although the clouds where covering the actual sunset, it was magical. I just wished it could endured forever.
Elevador de Santa Justa
Its first service was simply bringing people from one area (Baixa) to the other (Largo do Carmo). Some sort of public transport. I do not believe it was as functional as it sounds, but it is a functional money maker as a tourist attraction these days.
The neo-gothic arches and geometric patterns look quite nice although the elevator has an iron structure. But what mostly impressed me was the stunning view on the city once we arrived at the top. One side you can admire the central part of Lisbon, its colourful building with orange rooftops and the many squares that come with the city. Altough this view point is not the highest part of the city, the view is wide enough to be stunning impressive. On the other city there is a great view on the convento del Carmo, one of remains after a devastating eartquacke took place in this city in 1755.
Altough Lisbon has a real royal feeling with its large squares The Baixa area, especially around the Convento del Carmo is a much more living area but also relaxing, where people (not only tourists) come together to sit down for a coffee. I enjoyed the vibe of this area and as the national holidays where celebrating almost felt like dancing in the middle of the small squares and streets.
Already mentioned before, Alfama is the oldest part of the city. As I am a real authentical lover, this was the part of the city that attracted me the most. The area lies on a hill with small narrow streets, laundy hanging to dry form one part of the street to the other. It also one of these typical trams you will find when you search for Lissbon on Google
As Ben and I visited the city during Portugals Holliday month, June, there was life music on each corner of the streets. Beside the tavern bars there were also occasions to drink on the small squares and streets.
When you walk through the streets from Alfama you don’t have to worry to get claustofobia. Ben and I were surprised by several amazing views on the city, its churches and of course its river the Tagus. There are several spots were you can sit down, take a rest and enjoy the view of this amazing city.