JUL 17,2014 - JUL 17,2014 (1 DAYS)
Sant-George Castle and Alfama.
Start: Largo Martin Moniz.
End : Praca de Comercio.
Duration: 1/2 day.
Distance: 6-7 km.
Weather: Arrive to Sant-George Castle as early as possible to avoid high temperatures while in Alfama.
Take the Metro to Largo Martin Moniz. We start from this extensive square. There are several places in Lisbon that still remain unmentioned in tourism guides. It's one of Lisbon's biggest squares but has been one of the most overlooked over the last few years. Martim Moniz, a multicultural area, is still one of them. It seems like you’re in the Orient. There are small Chinese groceries, Turkish kebab houses, Indian restaurants and stores, and by the smell you can say you’re in Chinatown or Little Bombay. Great conglomeration of ethnic supermarkets and colorful lifestyle. it's been brought back to life and now attracts all kinds of locals and tourists. Inside the Mouraria shopping center, located in the Martim Moniz square, you’ll find Popat Store. There are African products, dried fish, coconut milk, Okra and hot Piri-piri. Ask the shops owners to find the most exotic spices and products from any corner of the world. On weekends there's a market offering everything from grocery products to clothing. The square is therefore now a meeting place, always accompanied by a view of the Sant-George Castle.
Take Tram 28 from Martin Moniz to Portas do Sol. From there it is 5 minutes walk to Castle Sant-George. Martin Moniz is one of the terminals of Tram 28. It's perhaps Lisbon's most popular activity: A ride back in time over hills and medieval streets in vintage trams that are still part of the city's public transportation network. Line 28 of Lisbon's iconic trams was inaugurated in 1914 and today it has a 7km route between Martim Moniz Square and the neighborhood of Prazeres (between Graça and Estrela in a shorter journey). It survived the rise of the automobile and of the bus by being the best way to squeeze through the narrow streets and corners of the older districts, for being an attractive tour, and for its clean energy. It's now an essential part of Lisbon's life, a city that would lose part of its soul without the constant rattling of these singular yellow, ringing "wagons". The trams are known as ‘electricos’ in Portuguese, so look out for ‘electrico 28’. The 28 line uses about fifty turn-of-the-century cars, built in wood with a capacity for twenty seating passengers and 38 standing (although many more cram in). The average intervals between each one is 15 minutes and the entire trip takes between 40 minutes and one hour (at a maximum speed of 50km per hour), depending on the obstacles (traffic and doubled-parked cars) along the way. The ride to Sant-George Castle takes 10 - 15 minutes. The first one starts the day just after 6AM, and the last one departs shortly after 11PM. Tickets can be purchased from the driver but most passengers use re-chargable / pre-paid cards, including most tourists who buy the Lisboa Card (recommended to avoid having to get a ticket each time you board, and to save money). Upon entering (always through the front door), validate your ticket by scanning it on the machine behind the driver. As you step on and off, watch your wallet and other possessions as this being a major tourist attraction it's a favorite target of pickpockets who easily blend in with tourists. It passes the Saint George’s (São Jorge) Castle, the famous viewpoint (miradouro) Portas do Sol (Gates to the sun) (see below) and the legendary fleamarket ‘Feira da Ladra’ in Alfama, Graça, Mouraria, Bairro Alto, (Lisbon’s bohemien haunt of artists and writers, and posssibly one of the best spots in Europe for a night out). Last stop: Cemetery ‘Prazeres’ (Cemetery of ‘Pleasures’), really worth a visit !
Tram 28, near Lisbon’s legendary flea market ‘Feira da Ladra’ ('Market of Thieves'):
The best stop for St George’s Castle, and there we drop, is at the Largo Portas do Sol viewpoint, which affords delightful views down to the river Tagus, with its boats docked in the harbour and the Alfama rooftops dropping away below. Next stop on the tram 28 route is St George’s Castle itself, sitting at Lisbon’s highest point, perched right on top of a hill and overlooking the Alfama and the river Tagus. Portas do Sol, is a panoramic viewpoint where you can relax or enjoy the cocktail bar and a restaurant offering delicious coffee and light fare:
Statue of St. Vincent - Patron of the City of Lisbon with a boat (symbol of the city) in his hands:
From the square walk south to Largo de Santa Luzia and, immediately, turn right to climb Travessa de Santa Luzia. There are brown signposts leading to Castle of S. Jorge. This is a shady road with houses decorated with Azulejos on your left:
The steep road bends left to Rua do Chão da Feira, bends again left and we arrive to the Entrance gate to Castle of Sant Jorge:
Here, starts Rua de Santa Cruz do Castelo and, 2-3 minutes climb and you face the tickets office of Castelo do Sao Jorge. Open (Last admission: 30 minutes before closing time): 1 November - 28 February (Closed - December 25 and January 1) 09.00 - 18.00, 1 March - 31 October (Closed - May 1) 09.00 - 21.00, Periscope - Tower of Ulysses | Subject to weather conditions 10.00 - 17.00. Prices in euros: Adults 8,50, Students < 25 years old 5,00, Families (2 Adults and 2 children < 18 years old) 20,00, People with disabilities 5,00, Senior (> 65 years) 5,00.
Castelo do Sao Jorge:
In brief: It’s located on one of the seven hills in the city and a huge part of the castle was destroyed by the Great Earthquake of 1755. However, the main structures were recovered and, these days, visitors can enjoy the magnificent castle, the views and many cultural activities that are promoted on its grounds. This fortification is situated in the area most difficult to access at the top of the hill, making use of the natural slopes to the north and west. The purpose of the castle was to house military troops and in case of siege. The elite who lived in the Alcáçova (Citadel). Unlike most European castles it was not meant as a residence.
Saint George's Castle can be seen from almost everywhere in Lisbon. Its oldest parts date from the 6th century, when it was fortified by the Romans, Visigoths, and eventually the Moors. It served as a Moorish royal residence until Portugal's first king Afonso Henriques captured it in 1147 with the help of northern European crusaders on their way to the Holy Land. It was then dedicated to St. George, the patron saint of England, commemorating the Anglo-Portuguese pact dating from 1371, and became the royal palace until another one (that was destroyed in the Great Earthquake) was built in today's Lisbon's Comercio Square. It is now an oasis of peace, but just past the main gate is a statue of King Afonso Henriques and a series of cannons, reminders of the castle's original purpose. What remains of the Alcaçovas Palace where medieval kings lived, is a stone building now housing a restaurant, and round the back, a small archaeological museum in three underground chambers (including the one where Vasco da Gama was once received by King Manuel). Most of the castle was destroyed over the years, especially in the Great Earthquake of 1755, but still includes a long extension of walls and 18 towers. Visitors can climb the towers and walk along the ramparts for the most breathtaking views of Lisbon, or relax in the gardens where peacocks, geese and ducks walk around. One of the Castle's inner towers, the Tower of Ulysses, holds the Câmara Escura, a periscope that projects sights from around the city.
Immediately, after your entry - you face a bronze statue of Afonso Henriques, the Portuguese monarch who took the castle from the Moors. This statue is a copy of the 19th-century original by the romantic sculptor, António Soares dos Reis, which is located near Guimarães Castle in central Portugal:
This is one of the most intact castles in Europe with much of the ramparts and keeps still intact. It is awesome to be able to walk the perimeter of the old ramparts and get up into the turrets. It still retains eleven towers, the most outstanding being the Torre de Menagem (Tower of the Keep), Torre do Haver ou do Tombo (Tower of Riches or Trumbling Tower), Torre do Paço (Tower of the Palace), Torre da Cisterna (Tower of the Cistern) and the Torre de São Lourenço (Tower of St. Lawrence) located on the hillside. Ruins of older structures and a cistern still remain in a second courtyard. Also found here is a small door on the northern wall called the Door of Treason which allowed secret messengers to enter or exit when needed.
Tower of Ulysses:
Don Manuel I "O Venturoso", King of Portugal (1495 - 1521):
On your way out - you'll see the Icon of Sant Jorge, protector and defender of Portugal:
Part of the castle grounds are being dug up for archaeological purposes, as it’s known that the hill has been inhabited for millenia. The museum on the grounds has artifacts that date back to roman times. The ruins are of two times, some Roman, and some Islamic.
And the views of the city from the castle are breathtaking. I think you can see the ocean from here. Due to its exceptional location, Castelo de S. Jorge stands out among Lisbon’s belvederes for its unique and majestic sights:
Within the inner courtyard of the castle ruins a small park with water courses and with some animal enclosures has been laid out. Peacocks sit in the old trees or walk along the paths, here and there there are quiet corners in which little fountains babble. There were peacocks roaming the grounds. It is weird. I wonder if they’re natural to the area.
Another cool thing about the St. George Castle are the falcons and owls that you could hold and have your picture taken with for money:
We leave Castelo do Sao Jorge and return to Portas do Sol in the same way. With our face to the Tagus river (south) we take, on our RIGHT, the stairs down to Alfama. The flight of steps (starting from Bar Cerca Moura) is DOWN along Rua Norberto de Araújo. On your right walls from the Vizigoth period, the 10th century:
Alfama is Lisbon's one of the most picturesque and rewarding for walkers and photographers thanks to its medieval alleys and outstanding views. It survived the 1755 earthquake, and a walk through this old-fashioned residential neighborhood is now a step back in time. It is an Moorish-oriental village within a city still made up of narrow streets, tiny squares, churches, and whitewashed houses with tile panels and wrought-iron balconies adorned with pots of flowers, drying laundry, and caged birds. It was settled by the Romans and Visigoths. It was also an important Jewish quarter in the 15th century. But it was the Moors who gave the district its atmosphere and name (Alhama, in Arabic, means spring or bath - a reference to the hot springs found in the area). The Moors were also responsible for its web of streets created as a defense system, while at the same time enabling their homes to remain cool in the summer. Most of the older residents have lived here all their lives and retain a strong sense of community. An increasing number of wealthier people are investing in their properties and moving in. Several renovated buildings directly below the Sant-George Castle have been converted into some of the city's most atmospheric and unique hotels or pensions. The quarter has a quality that needs to be experienced to be truly appreciated, and the best way to get to know it is wander around admiring the postcard-perfect views, visiting the churches, and walking up to the Sant-George Castle for the most breathtaking panorama of the city and the greatest sunsets.
Turn LEFT in the first intersection to Calçadinha da Figueira.Soon, you arrive to Beco de São Miguel:
After 5 minutes of walk you'll see the white towers of the Sao Miguel Igreja (church). The original church was built in 1150 and was renovated several times in the 13th C. and 17th C. After the earthquake it had to be almost completely rebuilt, although old parts of the building were incorporated, such as the valuable carving. The ceiling is of Brazilian jacaranda wood:
With your face to Sao Miguel church - turn right to Calçadinha de São Miguel. From there, immediately, left to Beco de Cardosa. Climb the stairs. On your left:
On your front:
In the end of the flight of stairs - turn right to Rua Castelo Picão:
Turn right to Beco das Cruzes. Bend left along this alley:
In the end of the stairs - climb LEFT to Rua da Regueira:
After 180 m. steep climb in Rua da Regueira - we arrive to Largo do Salvador. Turn RIGHT to Rua de Guilherme Braga. Bend slightly, with the alley, to the right - arriving to Largo de Santo Estêvão and Santo Estêvão church. The church was founded in the 13th C. by Dinos I. It originally consisted of five aisles, a unique feature in Lisbon. The earthquake almost completely destroyed it and it was rebuilt in 1773 to an octagonal plan. The ceiling paintings in the chancel and the sacristy come from the original church. The small square in front of the church offers a fine view across the quarter to the Tagus:
Largo de Santo Estêvão:
Go down with the stairs with your face to the sea:
In the end of the stairs you arrive to Escadinhas de Santo Estêvão. On your right a splendid, typical Portuguese fountain with Azulejos:
Continue descending along the flight of stairs and you arrive to Rua dos Remedios. Do not turn left (we finished with climbing up...). Turn RIGHT, and look on your right on this Manueline door / entrance portal dating from before the 1755 earthquake:
Continuing along this road and we arrive to a broad street with a nice square - Largo do Chafariz de Dentro. On the Largo do Chafariz de Dentro is located the unobtrusive fountain of the same name. It was called Chafariz de Dentro (inner fountain) as it was unusually positioned, i.e. within the old city walls. Originating from the 14th C., it once also bore the name "Horses' Fountain", as the gargoyles portrayed two bronze horses heads. These were stolen in 1373 by Spanish troops. The fountain was built in its current form in 1622. Here you find the Museu do Fado. OPENING TIMES: Museum: Tuesday to Sunday, from 10.00 to 18.00 (last admission: 17.30). Closed on 1st of January, 1st of May and December 25th. Documentation Centre: Monday to Friday, from 14.30 to 18.00 (by previous appointment), Museum School: Monday to Friday, from 14.00 to 20.00. PRICES: Admission – 5.00€, Reduced admission prices for: under 30 years of age and adults over 65 years of age and other pensioners, organized groups and families, Lisboa Card. Go ONLY if you want to know what Fado is and it's history. How to make a museum about music? Answer: include substantial selection of Fado and the artists to listen to. The €5 entrance includes an audio guide which as well as the usual voice overs includes a vast array of music samples. There are many photos of fado singers within this small museum and for each one you can dial the number into the guide and hear a sample of their singing. You can sit on a comfy chair, tune the headphones and choose from a menu of singers - this gives you songs to enjoy while reading about particular singers. Sights and songs with the same ticket:
Opposite the Museu there is charming market of handicrafts and antiquities:
With your back to sea - cross the market and turn left to Rua de Sao Pedro, a narrow and shady alley/road. The Rua de Sao Pedro starts at the northwestern boundary of the Largo do Chafarizde Dentro. This narrow street is very lively. In addition to the open air handicrafts market - there is also an early-hour fish market which takes place here every morning. Building number 6-10 is representative of the houses in this quarter:
On your right you cross Rua da Galé and on your right Largo de São Rafael:
Turn sharply down LEFT to Rua da Judiaria. On your right a fountain with running water. Continue walking down along the steps. Again, another fountain with water. This is Lisbon's oldest fountain, the Chafariz d'El Rei. Rua da Judiaria is the center of the former Jewish quarter. It originates from the 13th C., although a fountain possibly stood on this site in Moorish times. The current fountain dates from the 18th C. The King's Fountain is built right by a piece of the old city wall. Not only did Lisbon's inhabitants come here to fetch water, ships anchored in the harbor were also supplied with water from this fountain. The high demand for water must have led to fights amongst the users as an official decree passed in 1551 regulated exactly the withdrawal of water according to sex, race and position.
Pass through the Arco do Rosário to the Largo do Terreiro do Trigo. During the 16º century it was built a small palace upon the wall. We can still see the windows of it, in the characteristic "Manuelino" style.
Turn RIGHT to Rua Cais de Santarém and you see the wall with the empty windows of it:
There is "hole" in the wall. Pass through the "hole" and turn left to Travessa de São João da Praça. This small road continues west as Rua de São João da Praça. Walking further WEST along Rua de São João da Praça - you pass Pois Cafe (#95) on your left. If you want a break in general with an eclectic but homey atmosphere, this is where you want to go. Not only do they have books to peruse through here, but you can have your cake and eat it too! Their cakes are delicious. Depending on time of day and availability, it's hard to go wrong with any of them. The place is cozy, with large tables if you need to work, and comfortable couches if you're there to just relax. They have free Wi-Fi, which is always a plus.
Continue west along Rua de São João da Praça. It changes its name to Cruzes da Sé. On your right is the Lisbon Se' (Cathedral). It is 650- 700 m. walk to Praca do Comercio. It is a good idea to spare the second half of the day (if it is not so hot...) to Belem. You catch Tram #15 from Praca do Comerci to Belem. Head west on Cruzes da Sé toward Largo da Sé, 67 m. Slight left onto Largo da Sé, 40 m. Continue onto Largo Santo António da Sé, 51 m. Turn left onto Rua da Padaria, 26 m. Turn right onto Rua de S. Julião 170 m, Turn left onto Rua da Prata, 100 m. Continue straight onto Praça do Comércio.