The original, independent guide to Lisbon
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The Baixa to Bairro Alto Lisbon Walking Tour covers all of the sights to the western side of historic Lisbon. The walking tour explores the districts of; Baixa, the theatre district of Chiado and Bairro Alto the higher area. The tour takes approximately 3 hours and as the tour traverses from Lower (Baixa) to higher (Bairro Alto) expect to climb a couple of Lisbon's 7 hills. The walking tour starts from the main square of Baixa, the Praça Dom Pedro IV but is more commonly known as Rossio. Rossio square is conveniently located on the green metro line.
The Praça Dom Pedro IV is the central square of Lisbon and is famous for it's nauseating wave pattern stone paving. The statue is of Dom Pedro IV but legend has it that the statue is that of Emperor Maximilian of Mexico, who was assassinated shortly before the commission of Rossio Statue, so the statue was give to Lisbon at a greatly reduced price - luckily the two men had similar features! Rossio is a hub for tourists, locals and ex-colonial immigrants alike all intermingling in the cafes and restaurants.
Rossio square is the heart of Lisbon
To the north of Rossio square is the grand National Theatre D. Maria II the most prestigious theatre of Lisbon with touring ballet, operas and musicals performed here. To the east (right) of the theatre is a small bar, home of Ginjinha a sweet cheery liquor. The Ginjinha bar and drink is popular with old Portuguese men who were given this drink during their childhoods to cure all mild illness.
Adjacent to the Ginjinha bar is a church that which was severally damaged during the earthquake but was rebuilt around the ruins. The partial ruined walls the dim lighting and the graphic statues of Jesus death give the interior interior of the church a very macabre atmosphere.
Bottles of Ginjinha
Stepping back into bright day light cross Rossio square to the north west (left of the National theatre) to Rossio Railway Station with its grand horse shoe entrances and gothic styled windows. The true technological triumph of the station is the 19th century tunnel which burrows below Lisbon for 1.5km. From Rossio Station trains depart of the delightful town of Sintra.
The square to the north of the Rossio is Praça dos Restauradores, this square is dominated by an obelisk commemorating the independence of Portugal from spanish rule in the 17th century. Also in Praça dos Restauradores are the art deco Eden theatre and the pink Foz Palace.
Praça dos Restauradores leads into the Avenida da Liberdade a 10 lane avenue, the avenue was once the central park of lisbon and still retains the atmosphere. The old trees of the park remain providing shade for shoppers to brows the exclusive shops which line the avenue. The Avenida da Liberdade heads to the Marquis of Pombal Square and Parque de Eduardo and this makes for a pleasant detour if you plenty of time and energy.
The Funicular Gloria climbing the steep hills
To the right of the Foz Palace is the Funicular Gloria, the two funiculars are connected by a steel rope so that as one lowers the other climbs the steep hill. As part of the walking tour climb aboard and let gravity pull you up the steep climb. The Funicular Gloria tends to be a prime target for damaging graffiti, this is a shame as the urban art walls the that the functionary passes show that the spay can create dramatic art. The Funicular Gloria halts next to the Praça Alegria, the square provides wonderful panoramic views of Baixa. There are two levels to Praça Alegria the upper square is tree lines while the lower has carefully maintained gardens.
The view from the Praça Alegria
Head south from Praça Alegria (down the hill) along the narrow foot path for approximately 150 meters the path opens up into a smaller square with a modest white church. The bland facade hides one of the hidden gems of Lisbon, the Igreja de Sao Roque. Inside is supernaturally decorated with an ornately painted roof and exquisitely detailed chapels lavished with gold leave paint.
Continue down the hill and turn left at the red painted Teatro da Trindade. In the Teatro da Trindade Fado is performed every night a 19:00 and no trip to Lisbon is complete without hearing the haunting sounds of Fado. This smaller side road passes a fantastic example of the painted tiles which Lisbon is famous for. The road ends a shady square dominated by the ruins of the Igreja do Carmo.
The gothic styled Igreja do Carmo was destroyed during the 1755 earthquake but was never rebuilt on the orders of the Marquis of pombal. The Igreja do Carmo skeleton ruins remain overlooking Baixa & Rossio as a permanent reminder to the tragedy that befell Lisbon. Contained within the ruins of the Igreja do Carmo is the Museu Arqueologico do Carmo.
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