Lisbon’s Castle of St. George’s New Museum

St. George's Castle, LisbonA new attraction in Lisbon’s St. George’s Castle opens today. It’s a permanent exhibition made up of archaeological remains found throughout the years as the castle was renovated and excavated. These were important finds, as they shed a light into the life of the different people who’ve lived in the area, from the Romans to the Moors. The Moorish finds are the strongest highlights of the collection, especially those from the 11th and 12th centuries when the castle was given its current layout.

Before those fortifications there had been other cultures occupying the top of Lisbon’s highest hill, proven by the Iron Age findings which are displayed next to the more “recent” ceramic pieces from the 15th to 18th centuries.

The exhibition is included in the ticket price to enter the castle, and joins the periscope in the Tower of Ulysses as the major cultural attraction on the site. However, the highlight of a visit to Lisbon’s castle is, and will always be, the breathtaking views over the city.

New Year’s Eve in Lisbon

New Year's Eve in LisbonCelebrating Midnight in Comercio Square
Thousands of people choose to be in Lisbon’s largest square at midnight, when the new year is welcomed in a festive atmosphere. That’s where you’ll be able to see the city’s fireworks show more closely, with the square and the river being flooded with a variety of colors and lights.

A Michelin-Star Welcome to 2009
198 euros (per person and without drinks) gets you a Michelin-star ending to 2008 and start of 2009. Overlook Lisbon from Eleven, the restaurant standing at the top of Edward VII Park.  If you get the right table, its special menu (at that special price) will also get you views of the fireworks at midnight taking place down by the river. On the menu you’ll have both meat and fish courses and a varied selection of desserts.

Special Dinner by the Tagus
A cheaper but equally worthy alternative to Eleven is moving closer to the river and going for Virgula’s special New Year’s menu. It’s only 95 euros (without wine) and includes a special selection of two fish or meat dishes, ending with a chocolate pyramid for dessert.

Saying Good-Bye and Welcoming 2009
Last August, GoLisbon told you that the lounge-bar-restaurant-club Kubo was the place to be in the summer. Turns out it stayed open for the fall and it will only be closing its doors until the summer of 2009 on New Year’s Day. It made a few changes in its autumn season, and was no longer an open-air space, although it did it with glass, so the Tagus views are still there. The best way to guarantee a spot when midnight arrives is to go for dinner after 7PM and get ready for the New Year’s cheers which start at 10.

Where the Party is Always at
If you’ve been reading GoLisbon (and its blog), you already know that Lux is Lisbon’s party house, and even after a decade since it opened, it still is the club with the most happening New Year’s celebrations. Do note that it’s “New Year’s,” and not “New Years’s Eve,” as it opens its doors when it’s already 2009, at 1 in the morning.

An Alternative New Year’s Party
Lisbon’s Lesboa parties originally had the city’s lesbian community in mind when they first took place, but they’re now special events (taking place every couple of months or so) for every lifestyle and gender. Those looking for a more casual and cheaper (45 euros) alternative to the traditional New Year’s Eve parties, this is the one to choose, with an open bar (champagne will be served at midnight) and city views from its hilltop location (Tapada da Ajuda). DJ Ivan Pica (ranked in a magazine as Spain’s #1 house music DJ) and Miss Jools (from Berlin) will mix the music, and those staying until the morning will have breakfast available (hot chocolate and cake). See the Lesboa website for more.

Lisbon Remembers Nobel Prize Winner Dr. Egas Moniz

Nobel Prize winner Dr. Egas MonizRecently there’s been a lot of talk about Portugal’s last Nobel Prize winner, José Saramago. A major Hollywood version of his novel “Blindness” was just released in theatres, he just published a new critically acclaimed book that’s already a best-seller, and not too long ago it was announced that Lisbon’s landmark Casa dos Bicos will be the headquarters of a foundation and cultural institution in his name.

But today is the day to remember another Portuguese Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Egas Moniz. He died on December 13th, 1955, six years after winning the prize for medicine due to his discovery of the therapeutic value of leucotomy in certain psychoses. Basically what that means is that he was the inventor of the lobotomy neurosurgical procedure, the culmination of a long career that started as a graduate of the prestigious Coimbra University.

His accomplishments are honored with a hospital in Lisbon baptised with his name, and you’ll surely see it on your way to the Belem district on tram 15 when you visit Lisbon.

The 7 Portuguese Wonders of the World

7 Portuguese Wonders of the WorldInspired by last year’s international vote for the New 7 Wonders of the World and also the 7 Wonders of Portugal (which were both announced in Lisbon), Portugal is now conducting a vote for the seven Portuguese wonders around the world, officially called “7 Wonders of Portuguese Origin in the World.” A total of 27 nominees have been selected, and now it’s up to you to decide which ones are the seven most outstanding Portuguese constructions around the globe.

As you know, Portuguese explorers ended up in all corners of the planet, building forts, churches, and palaces along the way. Among the 27 nominees are constructions in Ethiopia, Kenya, Bahrain, Iran, and Malaysia, all places where the Portuguese made the first European contacts, but whose associations are usually forgotten.

Then there are the landmarks in Portugal’s most important colonies, from Goa’s iconic basilica in India, to the São Bento Monastery in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro, to São Paulo Cathedral in now China’s Macao.

To vote for your favorite check the following website (you’ll have to decipher what it says, as it’s only available in Portuguese):

For the final results, check here on June 10th, 2009 when the seven winners will be announced. That’s a very appropriate date, as it’s the national Portugal Day holiday which also commemorates Luis de Camões, the country’s most celebrated poet who glorified Portugal’s conquests around the globe.
Portuguese communities around the world are also remembered on this date, with many of them throwing major celebrations. A big one is around the Portuguese communities in New Jersey in the United States, with New York’s Empire State Building across the Hudson River lit up in the colors of the Portuguese flag on that day, looking like yet another Portuguese wonder.

For an overview of Portugal’s Age of Discovery, click here.

From The New York Times: 36 Hours in Lisbon

New York Times - 36 Hours in Lisbon

This upcoming Sunday’s New York Times travel section will feature an article entitled “36 Hours in Lisbon.” Although it will only be in print on Sunday, it’s already available online today.
It suggests an itinerary for a 3-day weekend in the city, highlighting several special places often overlooked by the typical tourist. One of them is the beautiful Tropical Garden that GoLisbon has already listed as one of the city’s top 10 off-the-beaten-path experiences, and the other is São Roque Church, so easy to overlook due to its austere façade.
The newspaper also mentions Lisbon’s most recent attraction, the Orient Museum, and includes a slideshow with photos of the most charming places mentioned in the article.

For that slideshow and to read the entire article, click here.