What to see in Lisbon in one day
18 august 2016
Lisbon, the capital and the most populous city of Portugal, offers countless tourist attractions that deserve a visit of at least two or three days. Anyway if your free time in Lisbon is limited, you can find here the main attractions that, in our opinion, should not be missed.
Our day tour in Lisbon
starts from the huge Commerce square (Praca do Comercio), where visitors can easily get to by underground metro or bus. The square has a pavement of cobblestone creating a kind of mosaic, while an 18th century portico surrounds it on three sides. At the center of Commerce square there is the equestrian statue of Dom Jose I, while the great Triumphal "Arco da Victoria" serves as an entrance to a beautiful pedestrian street connecting the center of the city.
Photo of the equestrian statue of Dom Jose I and of the huge arch "Da Victoria" in Praca do Commercio
Soon after the big Victory Arch, coming from Praca do Commercio, visitors enter a wide pedestrian street with typical Portuguese mosaic floor
. The pebbles have been polished to look almost as a mirror, by decades (if not centuries) of walks and, although beautiful to see, in case of rain it becomes very slippery.
The church of Sao Domingos
is one of the most interesting churches in Lisbon, as it miraculously survived first to the devastating earthquake of 1755, then to a fire in 1959. However, the restoration work did not completely repair the damage caused by these two events. Once crossed the entrance door, it seems to enter into a catastrophic movie.
On the morning of November 1st, 1755, Lisbon was struck by a devastating earthquake
measuring between 8.5 and 8.7 of magnitude, for 6.5 minutes, which shook the whole Europe and North-West Africa. The church of Sao Domingos has survived, and inside it can be observed the damage produced not only by this earthquake, but also by a subsequent fire occurred in 1959.
Lisbon's public transport network is particularly efficient, including both different metro lines and surface vehicles. The most practical and quick way to get around Lisbon
is by public transport, and even if you have rented the car to travel in the rest of Portugal, it is better to leave it parked at the hotel during your visit to Lisbon.
Lisbon is built over a series of hills and the district of Bairro Alto
certainly deserves a visit, because it is particularly picturesque. A long staircase connects Bairro Alto with the lower district.
The church of Sao Roque
is located in the Bairro Alto district of Lisbon and its simple 16th century facade overlooks a beautiful square with palaces decorated by azulejos (ceramic tiles).
The austere facade of the church of Sao Roque contrasts with the sumptuous interiors where there is gold, paintings, marbles and azulejos, many of which made in Italy from the 16th century.
The splendid interiors of Sao Roque church in Lisbon, with the altar and chapels decorated by gold, Carrara marble (from Italy), lapis lazuli and alabaster.
The delightful sacristy of the church of Sao Roque, with frescoes and paintings covering all the walls.
From Bairro Alto
visitors can admire beautiful views of Lisbon, while the return to the lower districts can be either on foot or by a cable-way service that runs along a steep road.
Hiking among the streets of Lisbon, visitors often find themselves in front of churches with a simple but imposing facade.
The central Praca dos Restauradores
is a square dedicated to the liberation of Portugal from the Spanish domination during the 17th century. The central obelisk contrasts with the beautiful mosaic floor, typical of Portugal.
The Cathedral of Lisbon
(Se de Lisboa or Igreja de Santa Maria Maior) was built starting in year 1150, but underwent several modifications and restorations, especially after the earthquake of 1755. The Romanesque facade, with its characteristic towers, make it look like more a fortress than a church.
Moving by tram to Belem
, among the westernmost districts of Lisbon, visitors should not miss the Monastery of the Hieronymites
(Mosteiro dos Jeronimos). The building, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was used mainly as a church, but also as a school or orphanage and currently houses the Navy museum.
The church in the monastery of Jeronimos
has a striking colonnade supporting a ceiling formed by a thick network of stone ribs, in a quite unusual architectural style for Portugal.
The stone columns of the Dos Jeronimos church
resemble huge trunks and are decorated with splendid high reliefs.
The altar of the church of Jeronimos presents a series of ancient paintings depicting the life of Christ.
From the outside, the Mosteiro Dos Jeronimos looks like a huge building with a Manueline-style facade. One wing of the complex currently houses the Navy museum
, as the spiritual mission of the Geronimite monks was precisely to protect the sailors.
A stroll along the Belem promenade
, from where visitors can admire the April 25th Bridge (a two-kilometer long steel structure with highway and railway), leads to the famous Belem Tower
(Tower of Bethlehem) dating back to the 16th century. I had the function of protecting the mouth of the Tagus River.