Last updated on December 5th, 2018
Lisbon Walking Tour 1: Alfama East (2 km)
1. Campo de Santa Clara
Take Electrico Tram 28 and get off here. We’re starting our walk on the edges of Alfama with noble residences and stately homes. But you are not far from the underbelly of Lisbon. Set up in the 12th century, the Feira da Ladra (market of the woman thief) takes place every Tuesdays and Saturdays from sunrise to sunset… Load up on trinkets and cheap treasures that include second hand clothes, DVDs, books, antiques and a lot more of absolutely legitimate origins. To the north of the Campo de Santa Clara, have a look at the elegant Palácio Lavrado built in 1745, which now houses the Supreme Military Tribunal. Don’t miss the Jardim Botto Machado, a small green haven towards the centre of the square built in 1862. Your kids will enjoy the playground and you can play checkers with the old folks. The view on the Tagus is also worth a snapshot or two.
2. Panteão Nacional – Igreja de Santa Engrácia
For all Lisboans, the Church of Santa Engrácia is synonymous of long delayed work that never ends. The common expression obras de Santa Engrácia just means that. Construction began in the year 1681, after a wish of Princess Maria, a daughter of Manuel I. The architect dies, the new King has no interest in finishing the work. Eventually, some three centuries later, in 1966, a central dome was quickly added to the church which was turned into a National Pantheon. Portugal’s greatest is buried here: Amália Rodrigues. There are also empty tombs for others such as Vasco de Gama.
3. Igreja de São Vicente de Fora
The imposing Monastery of Saint Vincent “outside the walls” was built outside of Lisbon’s city limits in 1582. This is the resting place of the “most serene” Braganza Royals: marbled sacristy, cloister walls covered with 18th century azulejos (tiles) illustrating the Fables of La Fontaine, superbly decorated caretaker’s house, and monks’ refectory turned into a Pantheon for the Casa de Bragança.
4. Lago de São Miguel
This small square is surrounded by 17th century houses. The guard’s tower was part of the Moors’ wall and probably saw a fair amount of bloodletting through the ages. The church of São Miguel, rebuilt after the Earthquake, opens only for mass on Friday late afternoon and Sunday Morning. If it is, do take a peep at the baroque woodwork.
5. Rua de São Pedro, Rua dos Remédios, Igreja de Santo Estêvão
You’ve reached the pulsing and busy heart of Alfama and hopefully you have gotten lost a few times on the way here. Relax at one of the taverns, buy something from the shops, groceries or cheese maybe. There is a morning fish market on Rua de São Pedro where you can haggle for your big fat tuna steak to bring home! Note the Manueline doors of the two surrounding churches: Espírito Santo and Santo Estêvão. Santo Estêvão has great Baroque interior but opens only for mass on Sundays. Don’t miss the little veranda overlooking the Tagus. From here, you can either head up towards the Castle of Saint George and the Gate of the Sun to start our Alfama West walking tour, or find yourself a nice little fado place for some wine and music.
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