Posts About 'Sights'

The 5 Best Free Attractions in Lisbon

Monday, October 17th, 2011

Lisbon is already Western Europe’s least expensive city, but in addition to the lower prices in accommodation and restaurants, you can also save on many of the city’s main attractions. Most of them are always free with the Lisboa Card, and others are free all the time, for everyone. Here are the five where money should be no excuse to miss:

Museu Berardo

This museum has one of Europe’s best modern and contemporary art collections and also presents temporary exhibitions. It’s right next to the city’s must-see monument, the Jeronimos Monastery.

Mude - Museu do Design

With a permanent collection of fashion and design by many of the world’s leading designers, this will become one of Lisbon‘s main attractions in the next couple of years. At the moment only a couple of the floors of the building are open to the public, and only part of the collection is on display, but it’s enough to make a visit worthwhile, especially when it’s free.

Museu do Teatro Romano, Lisboa

This tiny museum is for history buffs or for those wanting to know more about Lisbon’s Roman past. It’s next to the archaeological ruins of a Roman theater and shows pieces found on the site along with multimedia displays explaining the Roman times in the city.

Sé de Lisboa

Most cathedrals around Europe now charge admission, but not in Lisbon. You can visit the rather gloomy interior of this 12th-century monument for free, there is only admission charge for the cloisters and the treasury.

Basilica da Estrela

It’s one of the city’s biggest monuments and most tourists pass by during their journey on the famous tram 28. Everyone’s free to see the grand marble interior, including a royal tomb and a monumental nativity scene by one of Portugal’s all-time best sculptors.

Lisbon’s 10 Most-Visited Attractions

Monday, September 5th, 2011

Based on official reports and semi-official numbers, these are Lisbon’s 10-most visited attractions. Some are understandably so, others less worthy of a visit than a few sites missing from the list.

Jeronimos Monastery, Lisbon

This World Heritage Site is Lisbon’s most important monument and naturally receives the most visitors. The church is free and is extraordinarily ornate, but the real attraction are the cloisters.

Attracting over one million visitors every year, this is one of the world’s largest aquariums and it just got bigger with a new extension this year, guaranteeing even more people through its doors for temporary exhibitions.

Locals and tourists (close to a million of them) flock to this ancient hilltop monument every year. It’s seen from almost anywhere in the city, so it constantly invites you to its ramparts.

Apparently everyone thinks “It’s free, so why not go inside?” The reward is one of Europe’s most important modern art collections and it’s now visited more than other famous European museums such as Bilbao’s Guggenheim.

Leaving Lisbon without seeing Belém Tower is like going to Paris and not seeing Eiffel’s. The city icon is on the riverfront almost by the Atlantic, but it’s a pilgrimage everyone must make.

This one is almost inevitable: It’s found halfway between the Tower of Belém and the monastery and is featured on almost every postcard and guidebook of the city. The colossal images of Portugal’s famous explorers also make it a must-stop for photos.

The ride only lasts a few seconds, but the real attraction are the views at the top of this towering elevator with an Eiffel Tower-like structure.

This is Portugal’s most-visited national museum and the reason is that everyone is told that it has the world’s largest and best collection of royal carriages. It’s like entering a Cinderella world that attracts visitors of all ages, making it a perfect family attraction.

The number of visitors has risen every year and that is due to a few important temporary exhibitions that have led many to discover its noteworthy permanent collection, in large part related to Portugal’s Age of Discovery.

Everyone who visits Lisbon will at least pass by on their way to the castle on tram 28. Many end up going inside, and although it’s far from being one of Lisbon’s most beautiful churches, it is its oldest and it is the cathedral.

Discoveries Monument, Lisbon

Thailand Celebrates 500 Years of the Arrival of the Portuguese with a New Attraction in Lisbon

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Belem, LisbonMost people remember that the Portuguese were the first Europeans to reach Japan and have colonies in China and India, but what’s often forgotten is that they were also the first ones to reach another Asian location — Thailand. That happened exactly 500 years ago this month and until late 2011 there will be a permanent reminder of that in Lisbon’s Belém district.
That will be a Thai pavilion made of teak (hard timber), built in Bangkok to be shipped and assembled in Lisbon. The exact location will be the gardens by the Jeronimos Monastery, it will be 22 feet high (close to seven meters), and will have Portuguese and Thai motifs. It will present exhibitions and musical shows throughout the year, and may also include a tea room. The name of the monument will be “Sala Thai,” using a word that arrived in Thailand with the Portuguese (in both countries “sala” is a living space within a building).
It will be open to the public before the end of this year but the official inauguration will be in early 2012. Although the king of Thailand apparently won’t be able to attend, he’ll send one of his daughters. The princess will therefore be the guest of honor for an event that will not only unveil a new attraction in Lisbon but also remember the first contact Thailand made with Westerners. Among the interesting results of this cultural exchange was the introduction of sweets, pastries and desserts in Thai cuisine, using eggs for the first time and incorporating sugary traditions from Portugal.
In the meantime, those interested in the Europe-meets-Asia art and culture can visit the Orient Museum in Lisbon.

A Visit to Lisbon’s Renovated Greenhouse

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

Estufa Fria, Lisbon

Lisbon’s most surprisingly little-visited attractions are its green spaces (parks and gardens), but one you should not miss is the greenhouse of Edward VII Park. It underwent a major 1.8-million-euro renovation in the last two years and reopened just a few weeks ago. One reason why you should not overlook it in your sightseeing itinerary is because your hotel will very likely be located nearby — it’s found right in the center of the city’s main hotel district — but above all, it’s worth a stop for its wonderful collection of plants from all over the world.
You’ll feel transported to a magical wonderland created in 1933 with species from Portugal’s colonies in Asia, Africa and South America (Brazil), while others were brought from diverse locations like Australia, Mexico and Peru.
Although it’s known as “Estufa Fria” (cold greenhouse), it includes a “estufa quente” (hot greenhouse) which feels like a sauna as soon as you enter. It’s home to tropical plants and several cacti, and is perhaps the most fascinating section of the park.
Throughout the entire greenhouse (cold and hot), you’ll also see small ponds, tiny waterfalls and statues dotted around.

Greenhouse, Lisbon

Estufa Fria, Lisbon

Estufa Fria, Lisbon

5 Places to Discover in Lisbon Right Now

Monday, May 30th, 2011

Museu do Chiado, Lisbon

Medeiros e Almeida Museum
It’s celebrating its 10th anniversary on June 1st with free admission, but despite being open for a decade, only a couple of guidebooks have found it. So it remains one of Lisbon’s least-known attractions, even when holding one of its most important private collections of art. From paintings to decorative art, this is an extraordinary collection that could complement a visit to the Gulbenkian Museum.

Chiado Museum
Also celebrating a birthday, but this one with an extra zero, is the National Museum of Contemporary Art. Better known as the Chiado Museum, it is found in a very small space for such a large collection, so only part of it is on display in temporary exhibitions. Finally, at 100 years old, it will apparently expand at the end of the year. The building next to it will be vacant and the process of incorporating it into the museum will begin.

Monsanto Park
Very few know it, but Lisbon has one of the largest urban parks in the world. It’s a protected forest that’s been cleaned up in the last few years, and in addition to outdoor activities, it’s also been used as a stage for concerts. This June, on Sundays, you’ll be able to catch free concerts, part of the annual OutJazz festival that takes place in several parts of the city.

The Greenhouse
It was closed for almost two years for restoration works, and just reopened last month. This greenhouse in Edward VII Park is a wonderland of hundreds of species of plants from around the world, and with a certain magical atmosphere to relax in the middle of the city.

Sky Bar
It’s only open in the summer, and it’s now back for another season of cocktails overlooking the city. Found at the top of the Tivoli Lisboa Hotel in Avenida da Liberdade, this rooftop terrace is perfect to admire Lisbon after a day of sightseeing, and having a drink before or after dinner.

The New and Bigger Lisbon Oceanarium

Monday, April 25th, 2011

Lisbon Aquarium

It’s one of Lisbon’s most-visited attractions and one of the world’s biggest aquariums — and it just got bigger. A recently-inaugurated 4.8-million-euro extension added space for temporary exhibitions (at the moment you can see sea turtles), a new auditorium and a new restaurant.
It reinforces the mega-aquarium‘s mission to alert its nearly 1-million visitors each year to near-extinct species and a cleaner environment, while also providing other services such as family-friendly programs in the auditorium and extra space to relax with a meal.
The new all-white restaurant is open from 10AM to 7PM and serves a kid-friendly menu: pastas, hamburgers, soups, salads, snacks.
The Oceanarium is one of only a couple of attractions in the city that never close. It’s open throughout the year, even on Christmas day. It’s an especially good destination to include in your itinerary if you’re in the city on a Monday when most of the museums and monuments are closed. It’s also perhaps the attraction most enjoyed by all age groups, and the Lisboa Card gives you reduced admission.

Lisbon from 3 Monumental Rooftops

Monday, April 18th, 2011

Basilica da Estrela, Lisbon

One of Lisbon’s most monumental churches never really opened itself to tourists. Its doors were only open for mass and prayer, with tourists just taking a quick look inside. But it’s now finally decided to open its terrace and dome for tourist visits, on guided tours taking place every half hour.
Many will find it overpriced (it’s 5 euros per person with no discounts available with the Lisboa Card), but anyone will enjoy the views from the top. You reach it through a dizzying spiral staircase, and may enter the dome to see the interior of the church from above.
The views from the terrace by the twin towers include the river, 25 de Abril Bridge and the castle in the distance.

Mosteiro de São Vicente de Fora, Lisbon

It’s one of the city’s main landmarks but it’s often overlooked among so many other attractions. The interior includes a fascinating series of tile panels telling La Fontaine’s fables, while the terrace offers a magnificent view of the city, including of the dome of the National Pantheon right below.

National Pantheon, Lisbon

You can see the dome of the National Pantheon from several parts of the city, and you can also lean against it as you admire a view of the city. You can do it for free on Sundays until 2PM or at any time with the Lisboa Card. Those views include the towers of St. Vincent Monastery and the river.

Coming Soon to Lisbon: A New Cultural Center and Architectural Icon

Monday, April 11th, 2011

EDP Building, Lisbon

It’s just been announced that the neighborhood with the most cultural attractions in Lisbon will have yet another one by the end of 2013. That’s a new cultural center next to and managed by the Electricity Museum which will mostly present temporary exhibitions of contemporary art and also have an auditorium, a café and shop.
The 19-million-euro project will be designed by British architect Amanda Levete (who’s recently also been chosen for the expansion of London’s Victoria & Albert Museum), and will literally be on the river, with the water rising over the steps of the façade.
The top of the building will also be used as a big open space which you’ll be able to walk through and admire the views of the surroundings, further making this a future icon of contemporary architecture in the city.

Lisbon’s New Tourist Office is Also a Cultural Attraction

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Patio da Galé, Lisbon Tourism Office

Lisbon’s main tourism office is found in one of the arcaded buildings of Comercio Square and starting this Friday the 25th it is expanding to most of the building. That includes a courtyard that’s been closed for over a decade, but that’s just been renovated to become a cultural venue. Tourists and locals will now find two restaurants of contemporary Portuguese cuisine, a traditional ice cream shop, space for exhibitions and special events, a souvenir shop, and all the useful information about the city. It will also be the headquarters of ModaLisboa, the organization behind the local fashion industry’s regular events.
All this after an investment of over 4 million euros thought to be a vital addition to the ongoing revitalization of Lisbon’s biggest and most monumental square.

Lisbon’s 5 Best Small Museums

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Lisbon is essentially an outdoors city, so few visit it with a long list of museums to see. That’s despite some wonderful collections such as that of the Berardo or MuDe museums. Most who do go to a museum, often choose the Gulbenkian, the Ancient Art or even the Coaches Museum, overlooking other smaller spaces.
But if you’re coming to Lisbon with culture in mind, you’ll likely want to see quite a number of collections (the Tile Museum is especially magnificent).
Of the smaller or least-visited museums, these are five you may want to consider:

Museu do Fado, Lisbon

Fado Museum

Medeiros e Almeida Museum
After Gulbenkian’s, this is Lisbon’s best private art collection. Housed in a mansion where a rich local businessman used to live, it presents European paintings by names such as Tiepolo and Rubens, as well as a Rembrandt self-portrait, classic European decorative art, and Chinese porcelain.

Fado Museum
If you’ve never heard Fado or are not a fan, you’ll surely overlook this museum. However, you just may gain a new appreciation for Lisbon’s music after a visit, or at least will leave with a better sense of the local culture. This is a very well thought-out museum, with a multilingual audio guide and multimedia displays which place the music within the social and political context of 19th and 20th-century Portugal.

Chiado Museum
This museum suffers from lack of space. Its collection is the biggest of the country’s contemporary artists, but not everything can be displayed at the same time. So it arranges thematic exhibitions with a number of the works of the permanent collection together with other temporary ones. Once a planned expansion is finally completed, it will certainly become one of Lisbon’s best museums.

Arpad Szenes – Vieira da Silva Museum
Vieira da Silva was one of Portugal’s top contemporary artists, and Arpad Szenes was her Hungarian husband. Although they spent a large part of their artistic life in Paris, they had a studio in Lisbon close to where this museum is now found. It reunites many of the husband-and-wife’s works in a former silk factory, and should not be missed by anyone who enjoys contemporary art.

São Roque Museum
Created by the Jesuits in the 17th century, this museum has a small but very rich collection of sacred art, including sculptures, paintings, tapestries, and relics said to be unique in the world. Adjoining the museum is a church with a very plain façade but with an extraordinary interior, including “the world’s most expensive chapel,” built in Rome in the 18th century using only the most precious materials.