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Lisbon is Portugal’s capital and one of the fastest growing tourist destinations in Europe. Somehow Lisbon has gone under the radar for years, but finally people are catching on. There are many reasons why this is the case. It is one of the warmest cities in Europe seeing more sun than Athens, Rome and Madrid!
It is also steeped in history thanks to the great Portuguese Empire being birthed here. Even stag do’s are realising its potential for a weekend away. It is easy to see why Lisbon stag do’s are catching on. The city is only a short two and half hour flight away and boasts prices comparable to eastern Europe…. for now.
You might not have heard of them yet, but Lisbon also boasts some amazing landmarks too. Here is just a handful that you should be adding to your tour list.
Sao Jorge castle is the pinnacle, literally, of Lisbon’s historical landmarks. It is situated at the highest point in the city and thus provides incredible views if you can get up there. It is a Moorish castle harking back to a medieval period of Portuguese history filled with Game of Thrones style swords and shields. The walk up there takes you through old winding streets, but it is very steep, so not for the faint hearted. It is definitely worth the effort though as Lisbon is blessed with a riverside location and seven hills filled with incredible coloured buildings to view.
A Lisbon institution is the tram system that trundles it streets. These old trams are from America originally and arrived in the 1930’s giving them a fantastic Art Deco appeal. The number 28 is world famous because of the route it takes. The tram travels between Martim Moniz and Campo Ourique stations. This means it goes through historic neighbourhoods or ‘bairros’ of Graca, Alfama, Baixa and Estrela. While it has become a popular tourist activity and route, locals still use it and you will enjoy watching their daredevil antics trying to hang on.
You will find the small yellow trams printed on virtually all tourist souvenirs as they have become so iconic and this journey is a must when in Lisbon.
This iconic bridge stretches right over the river Tagus. The suspension bridge has more than a passing resemblance to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. It was built by Americans and has the similar red colouration that adorns the famous bridge in California. It connects Lisbon with Almada to the south and has room for both cars and trains making it a vital transport artery. It’s immense size which makes it the 32nd largest suspension bridge in the world makes it perfect for photos especially in the early morning or evening when the sun is at its lowest.
Lisbon seems to be a city of many replicas and this one is a pretty blatant one. Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro is an icon not just of that city but of Brazil itself. Its colonial father Portugal decided to have a bit of that fame in 1959 when they decided to build a similar statue, but call it Christ the King. The statue plays a similar role to its Brazilian counterpart. It watches over the city and is used as a reminder of the sacrifice Jesus made for his people. It is placed on top of a hill in Almada on the other side of the River Tagus. Its location close to the 25th April Bridge makes for some iconic pictures that looks as if San Francisco and Rio de Janeiro have slammed together.
Comercio Square is not the centre of the city, but it is the focal point that bring the city of Lisbon in contact with the river Tagus. It used to be the home of the Portuguese Royal Family who of course demanded the best location in the city. However, Lisbon was struck by a huge earthquake in 1755 which destroyed most of the city and the palace.
Sensibly the Royal family wanted to get out of this potential disaster zone again and moved away from the riverfront. In its place the Praca do Commercio was built. A fantastic 18thC square with as grand an appearance as any royal palace. It is placed at the base of all the main roads in the city and on the banks of the river. The grand styling makes for perfect photo opportunities. At the centre of the square is a statue of King Joao I astride a horse, which is treading on snakes. A strange but fun selfie!
Belem Tower is recognisable all over the world and the unofficial symbol of Portugal. It is a naval fortress that used to protect Lisbon from attacks. You will get a close up look on a boat ride on the Lisbon river. It’s unique architecture and location jutting out into the river Tagus has made it a popular tourist spot.
Because of its importance it has gained UNESCO World Heritage status. It is just a short drive or train ride to the west of the city, on the way to the Atlantic ocean. What also makes it famous is the fact that it was where Vasco Da Gama set out on his voyage to India and thus plays an important role in the history of the world!