“The Lisbon life”
Lisbon, Portugal. May 2019. (12 photos)
I stayed for 8 nights in Lisbon (Lisboa in Portuguese), using it as a base for making a few day trips in Portugal. In between eating pasteis de nata and drinking port, I found some time to go wandering and enjoy the Lisbon life.
Lisbon is the second oldest capital city in the world, the first being Athens, Greece. It is a city built on seven hills which according to legend references the seven gates of Heavenly Jerusalem, as represented by Lisbon’s seven principal Christian churches which stand at the top of each hill: São Cristóvão, São Vicente de Fora e Sé Velha, São José da Anunciada, Nossa Senhora da Graça, Chagas de Cristo, Santa Catarina, and São Roque. On the hills are various miradouro (viewpoints) which offer views across the city, some of which are particularly popular at sunset.
The photo above was taken from one of the lesser frequented miradouro of Lisbon. In the background is the Igreja de Sao Vicente de Fora.
“Convento do Carmo”
After checking into my hotel in Lisbon I made the short walk to the Convent of our Lady of Mount Carmel. Built in 1389, the Convento do Carmo was one of the largest churches in Lisbon at the time of the most catastrophic earthquake in Portuguese history in 1755. The roof of the church collapsed and has never been replaced. The ruined church has been left in its devastated state as a reminder of the tragedy and is now a museum.
“In the Mouraria”
The Mouraria is the Moorish Quarter of Lisbon, located across the foothills of Castelo de Sao Jorge. After the first Portuguese king, Afonso Henriques, conquered Castelo de Sao Jorge and reclaimed Lisbon from the Moors, the surviving Moors were allowed to remain and the Mouraria was established for them. Once a ghetto, it is now one of the most culturally diverse areas of Lisbon, and includes Lisbon’s Chinatown, offering a true essence of the history of the city. It is considered by many as the birthplace of “saudade”, the essence of Fado music.
Saudade is a Portuguese word that is hard to define in English. It may be interpreted as “the love that remains” or the longing and emptiness one feels, after someone is gone, in the knowledge they will never return. Saudade is the recollection of feelings, experiences, places, or events that once brought excitement, pleasure, well-being, which now triggers the senses and makes one live again. It’s a desire to be melancholy. You have to hear Fado music to appreciate it.
“Antonio and Isabel”
In the Sao Cristovao area of Mouraria, photographer Camilla Watson began a community project in 2009 where local residents volunteer to have their photograph taken and have it on outdoor display in the area. It has been a successful venture – the elderly are proud and love the attention and it brings an imediate intimacy/welcome for visitors. The photographs are printed either onto wood or directly onto the wall using a liquid silver emulsion. This permanent outdoor exhibition is entitled, ‘A Tribute’.
In an interview with The London Evening Standard Camilla is quoted, “When I began this project, the old part of Lisbon had not been renovated for at least 200 years. The walls were full of holes and cracks – and the area had a high density of elderly so for me the old people were ageing together with the old buildings. They were one and the same. So I imagined their faces as part of walls in the streets. And I set myself the challenge of printing them onto the walls themselves”.
“Capela de Nossa Senhora da Saude”
The Chapel of Our Lady of Health is in the Mouraria district.
The art of Portuguese paving is alive and well in Lisbon. Portuguese pavement (calçada portuguesa) is a traditional-style pavement used for many pedestrian areas in Portugal. It consists of small flat pieces of stones arranged in a pattern or image, like a mosaic. It was pointed out to me that at this chapel, the pavement on all four sides is a mirror image of that side of the church.
How the light falls in Lisbon, whilst wandering around on my last evening there.
“Rua da Bica de Duarte Belo”
I’m standing at the top end of Rua da Bica de Duarte Belo. According to a popular vote across a series of websites, this street in Lisbon, which connects Travessa do Cabral to Largo do Calhariz was chosen as the most beautiful street in the world alongside the Champs-Élysées and 5th Avenue. The funicular railway was built in the 19th century. The Bica district offers a beautiful view of the river, and maintains the colorful 17th- and 18th-century buildings, many of them with flower-filled balconies and laundry out to dry.
“In the Alfama”
The Alfama is the oldest part of Lisbon and is a labyrinth of narrow cobbled streets and ancient houses, which lead up the steep hill from the Tejo Estuary to the Castelo de São Jorge. Contained within this district are many of Lisbon’s most important historic buildings. Historically, the Alfama was a poor and squalid district. Today it retains its unique character and heritage but now has a more artisan ambience.
“A place to rest”
I happened across this small oasis in the Alfama. There were a couple of works of trompe-l’oeil in this area such as you see here.
“Looking across the Tagus River to Lisbon”
Click on the link for Part 1 of my The Lisbon life series.
“Portugal discovers the world”
Portugal has a long and distinguished history for establishing maritime trade routes and exploring the world, particularly along the coasts of Africa, Canada, Asia, and Brazil, in what became known as the Age of Discovery.
Along the Tagus River, in Belem (everyone who visits Lisbon goes to Belem, don’t they?), one finds the Padrao dos Descobrimentos, a monument that celebrates the 15th and 16th-century Portuguese explorers and visionaries who established Portugal as the most powerful seafaring nation of the era. In the background is the Ponte 25 de Abril. It was built by the American Bridge Company which constructed the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge, but not the Golden Gate Bridge. Also in the background is the statue of Cristo Rei, inspired by the Christ the Redeemer statue of Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil.
Nightfall in the Praca do Comercio, Lisbon’s main plaza on the banks of the Tagus River, rebuilt under the direction of King Jose I after this entire area was destroyed in the earthquake of 1755. The statue of King Jose I on horseback is a major feature of the plaza, and he is depicted symbolically crushing snakes.
This is Part 14 of this photographic series and Part 9 of the posts about Portugal.