“The Lisbon life”

Lisbon, Portugal. May 2019. (12 photos)

This is Part 9 of my Portugal 2019 photo series, and also Part 14 of my Europe 2019 photo series.

Recently I spent a month visiting France and Portugal, with a short visit to Singapore for good measure.

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.

“8pm Lisbon”

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.

Other posts in my Lisbon photo series:
The Lisbon life
The Lisbon life (3)

In May and June 2019, I visited France, Portugal and Singapore.

This is Part 14 of this photographic series and Part 9 of the posts about Portugal.

Leica Etcetera, Photography Etcetera

The Lisbon life (2)


51 thoughts on “The Lisbon life (2)

  1. Lovely photos LD. I have enjoyed revisiting Lisbon with you. I liked this city as it doesn’t feel too big and busy, and it has the feeling of many villages. Not sure I agree with that street being one of the most beautiful in the world though!

    • Thanks, Jude. Indeed Lisbon has an ambience and lifestyle that I enjoyed greatly, even in my short time there. I think a lot of people feel that way about it.

      Beauty exists at many levels. I didn’t walk more than a couple of blocks of the street, but I have to agree with you.

  2. Heide says:

    Your description of the word “saudade” is the best I’ve ever read! You clearly absorbed more than just the scenery and the port on this trip, Mr. Draco. 🙂 Gorgeous photos as always, and especially loved the portrait-within-a-portrait of Antonio and Isabel.

    • Thank you so much. My souvenir suntan has almost completely gone now, but the memories of Portugal will linger forever. It has that effect on you, like that place in Normandy we spoke about before.

      Yes, that outdoor exhibition by Camilla Watson is a wonderful idea. As a tourist, I stopped to look at each and every one I came across, and then realised most of them are still around in the neighbourhood. If only one of them had come up to me whilst I was looking at their photo.

      • Heide says:

        How wonderful to hear that you’ve found another place you will carry with you for the rest of your life! But … as you’re accumulating so many favorite destinations, how will you be able to decide between them in the future? Or is there still a single, clear go-to destination in your heart and mind?

        • I just enjoy the trips/destinations for what they offer at the time. There’ll always be favourites, but it’s not necessary to me to revisit them regularly. Australia seems so far away much of the time.

    • That’s the thing about going to a foreign city for work or conference. I would always prefer just to be wandering around instead. 🙂 That particularly to a beautiful city like Lisbon. My biggest anxiety most days was deciding where to watch the sunset from.

  3. I think I need one of those hexagon shaped things! Not sure that it would work on our roof but wouldn’t the neighbours be jealous 🙂 🙂 Lovely shots full of street life, Draco. Our next door neighbours in the Algarve returned to their home on the Lisbon coast today, leaving us an invitation to visit. I shall be sorely tempted. Not least because they are very nice ladies. 🙂

    • Oh, to be back in Lisbon. Without hesitation, I say go! 🙂 Strangely I have a craving for pasteis de nata and port as I write this.

      Thank you kindly, Jo. I waited for quite a while for that woman to vacate that hexagon so I could recline there, but it wasn’t to be.

  4. Such an interesting project by Camilla Watson. Perhaps that project made the locals in the Sao Cristovao area closer. As an introvert, it’s not in my nature to have my face displayed outside like that. Didn’t know Lisbon had trams. They really are so much more old school than the ones we have here in Melbourne and the rest of Australia as you probably know all too well.

    • I do believe Camilla’s photography project has brought the locals closer. On a food tour, my guide mentioned she met one of the locals who’d been photographed. Immediately they had something to talk about and bonded.

      Lisbon has had trams since 1873. Very useful considering how hilly Lisbon is.

  5. I’m sure I probably said it before, but Lisbon is sensory overload, in the best possible way. And you captured it marvelously, as usual. I love “A tribute”. What a beautiful idea to add a human touch to the area.

    • Thank you very much. Yes, “A Tribute” is a wonderful community spirited artwork. I just wish I had met one of the subjects whilst I was looking at their photo. That would have been so special.

  6. Another nice set. I can relate to the Belem comment, we did stop there in a very quick visit. Such are the joys of guided tours, we taste the frosting but rarely the cake.

    • Yes, that Belem bakery gets a solid workout daily but even without that, there is so much to see there. I would have liked to have visited the Jeronimos Monastery there, but it was closed due to a large military procession/function.

    • Thank you very much, Julie. I didn’t know that fact until afterwards, either. But not surprising given the history of Portugal and its influence on the world. It’s such a beautiful place.

  7. The wall painting deceived my eye – I’d not have known it was a painting if you hadn’t explained.I love the way you’ve captured the guy in the yellow t-shirt looking down Rua da Bica de Duarte Belo – he seems to embody our amazement and delight in seeing the sight.

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