In our latest post, we return to Lisbon (where our journey actually began) and pay a visit to the Lisbon Cathedral, the Praça do Comercio (where we spent New Year’s Eve) and the Miradouro das Portas do Sol.
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If you’ve been following this series of photographs from my three week father/daughter trip to Portugal from back in December 2022 – January 2023, you’ll remember that our journey actually began in Lisbon when we arrived in Portugal on December 14th.
We spent our first couple of days in the western Belém district of Lisbon before driving about 45 minutes NW to the city of Sintra. And that’s where our journey really got started.
Over the next two weeks, we drove about 40 minutes north, stopping at the majestic Palácio de Mafra before continuing north to the Alcobaça Monastery, up to the city of Coimbra, a 90 minute drive up to the “Second City” of Porto, then north again to the city of Braga. We continued north, crossing the border into Galicia, Spain to spend Christmas with “miña familia galega”.
We then started our journey south, back into Portugal, stopping at the charming city of Guimarães, (The “Birthplace of Portugal”), the Dominican Monastery of Batalha, the medieval Convent of Christ (and Castle) in the city of Tomar before taking about a 90 minute drive back to where this whole journey started (and where it would end), Lisbon.
We arrived back in Lisbon on December 29th and checked into the lovely five-star Áurea Museum by Eurostars Hotel (I wasn’t about to pinch pennies on the last few days of a 21-day trip). The hotel, on the banks of the Tagus River, put us right in the heart the Alfama District, Lisbon’s oldest and most emblematic quarter. And an 8-minute walk (up and down steep hills, of course) from our first destination, the Sé de Lisboa (Lisbon Cathedral).
The Lisbon Cathedral (Sé de Lisboa), also known as the Cathedral of Saint Mary Major, is the oldest church in the city. Built in 1147, the cathedral has survived many earthquakes and has been modified, renovated and restored several times. It is nowadays a mix of different architectural styles. It has been classified as a National Monument since 1910.
Lisbon Cathedral’s rose window and west façade feature a very thin balcony with a lovely view of the street below…
View from the inside of the huge and splendid rosace that ornaments the Romanesque façade. The current stained glass windows, reproducing the twelve Apostles around the central figure of Christ the Saviour, were executed in the 1930s by the Ricardo Leone factory, based on the reconstitution of several fragments found of the ancient rosace, destroyed after the earthquake of 1755.
The Treasury of the Cathedral of Lisbon occupies four distinct rooms and covers areas as diverse as goldsmithing, clothing and sculpture or painting, having arrived to the Cathedral between the 16th and 19th centuries.
The current chancel, of baroque typology, was conceived after the earthquake of 1755. It has a stucco ceiling, formed by groined vaults with three branches coated with polychrome panels. On the front wall, a painted panel depicting the “Assumption of the Virgin” can be seen, a work by José Inácio Sampaio from 1825.
The deambulatory and the radiant chapels, built in Gothic style between the reign of D. Afonso IV (1325-1357) and D. João I (1357-1433), transformed the Cathedral into a pilgrimage church. The chapel of St. Cosmas and St. Damian hold the Gothic tombs of Lopo Fernandes Pacheco, comrade-in-arms of D. Afonso IV, and his second wife Maria Vilalobos.
It’s already nighttime when we head out of the cathedral so I pulled out my iPhone 13 Pro and captured the trams heading up and down the street in front of the cathedral. The Lisbon tramway network, in operation since 1873, presently comprises six lines (known locally as “eléctricos”).
The Praça do Comércio (Commerce Plaza) is a large, harbour-facing plaza opening southwards onto the huge Tagus estuary. It is one of the largest in Portugal. Until the era of mass aviation, this was Lisbon´s great reception hall for visitors arriving by sea even better able to enjoy its beauty from their vantage points on slowly docking vessels.
The plaza is adorned by the Arco da Rua Augusta, a memorial arch-like, historical building and visitor attraction. It was realized in 1875 and designed by Veríssimo José da Costa to commemorate the city’s reconstruction after the 1755 earthquake. It has six columns and is adorned with statues of various historical figures such as Viriatus, Nuno Álvares Pereira, Vasco da Gama and the Marquis of Pombal.
In the center of the square you’ll find the equestrian statue of King José I, inaugurated in 1775 (I mean, are you really in Europe if you don’t see a statue of a king in the center of a plaza?). This bronze statue, the first monumental statue dedicated to a king in Lisbon, was designed by Joaquim Machado de Castro, Portugal’s foremost sculptor of the time.
One one of the most picturesque locations is all of Lisbon is the Miradouro das Portas do Sol (which translates to “Gate of the Sun”), which is pretty much a balcony above the ancient Alfama neighborhood looking out to the Tejo River.
Lisbon based singer Charlotte Algar entertaining the crowd on New Year’s Eve…
A statue of St. Vincent (the city’s patron saint) holding a boat with two ravens (the symbols of Lisbon) welcomes visitors to the “Gate of the Sun”
Unless you’ve taken a selfie (or three!) at Lisbon’s most popular lookout, you really can’t say you’ve been there…
Yeah, we spent New Year’s Eve in Lisbon in the Praça do Comercio and it was pretty special. Didn’t take a lot of photographs but did manage to grab several video clips with my iPhone 13 Pro and put together a quick edit that’ll give you a better idea how lively the plaza can be – check it out below…
It was a New Year’s Eve we’ll never forget. Nuff said.