It was on November 5, 2016, 9 am when I went up the Triumphal Arch. The mystical sunlight, coming from the Tagus River, had been getting quickly replaced by the dark clouds coming from the hills and upper parts of the city. It was my first morning in Lisbon. To be clearer, it was my first morning in Lisbon in 2016.
Yes, I had been in Lisbon a lot of times before. Anyway, this viewpoint was only opened to public about 3 years ago. Now, at least in my opinion, this is the best place to get your first views and perspectives of Lisbon when you are here for the very first time. You may have heard that Lisbon has lots of viewpoints; nobody really knows how many. This one is the best choice for an introduction to Lisbon – I’ll tell you why.
First of all – you can come here very easily! It’s right at the riverfront, easy to get here before you make any research about getting to the tops of the hills. This place provides you a pretty clear idea about the urban structures of Lisbon and its connection with the Tagus (Tejo) River. You just need to be lucky like I was, and get this interesting and lovely weather moment.
Furthermore, the entrance is situated right on the street of Rua Augusta, right in front of the monument. The entrance costs 2.5 euros and there is an elevator. Once you get to the upper terrace, there is a small gallery and a fun staircase that takes you straight to the top. The staircase is very narrow, and the reason for that is simple – it used to serve only a couple of timekeepers maintaining the clock tower.
A Gallery with a View
Time to go down. This square is known both as Praça do Comércio and Terreiro do Paço. It’s incredibly large, surrounded by arcades on three sides, and with the Tagus River on one side. Its total area surpasses 6 hectares. I’ll be repeating the fact that Lisbon is the city of perspectives. Once coming to the very edge of the Tagus, you’ll notice the proud Sao Jorge Castle.
Turning to the river view, you will notice the 25 de Abril Bridge, many times stated as a “European Golden Gate”. So many attractions in such a small amount of time, isn’t it?
The monumental buildings that surround this square used to be exclusively government offices and ministries. But most of these institutions moved away to the other parts of the cities, leaving these spaces to be occupied by boutique hotels, art galleries and bars.
This monumental wing has a temporary exhibition gallery. There is always something inside, and at the time of my visit, there was an exhibition that compares the urban development of Lisbon with Edinburgh, Scotland. With vivid and fun comparisons, this exhibition must have been loved by architects, urbanists, artists and other creatives.
Have a Beer and a Codfish Cake 😀
On the other side of the square, there is a series of bars. One of them is called The Museum of Beer – Museu da Cerveja. This is a bar with a museum. The entrance ticket is 3 euros – but you will get a glass of craft beer at the entrance, and enjoying while observing the exhibits. This is the history of beer manufacturers in Portugal and Portuguese-speaking countries. Many bottles, mugs, and even machines can be observed and everything is situated on a gallery providing nice views over the bar-restaurant.
After visiting the museum, you can have a snack here, and drink another beer of course. There is a typical snack called codfish cake, an authentic Portuguese recipe enriched with creative cuisine. They make it here with cheese; not any kind of cheese, but the cheese from the region of Serra da Estrela, something that makes the taste of these cakes particularly delicious. Some friends told me that in Portugal everything is very sweet, but this cake is salty and I love it.
So, this is a museum with gastro experience. Foodies will love it. Of course, this is a fun museum 😀
While walking around the square you can spot these land artists creating sculptures in sand, or take pictures in front of this unique, newly refurbished urban park, like I did 😀
This is an initial guide, for a nice first morning in Lisbon. You can also read my text about a weekend in Lisbon for greater fans of that city, or my text about a not-so-famous palace with lavish interiors and splendid gardens. I also wrote about two museums situated next to each other which present how the industry used to be, and how it is in the times we live in. You can also read about Cascais.