Lisbon, Portugal: Day 1 – The Baixa Neighborhood

Lisbon was a city that I thoroughly enjoyed. The people were incredibly friendly, the food was delicious, and the sights were beautiful. That said, Jeremy was on the tail end of his Barcelona cold and I was just starting my cold, so we really didn’t do as much as we would have liked. Some trips are like that, and you just have to go with it and enjoy what you can. I’m just glad this was before all the Covid-19 problems, or we would have been stuck in our hotel room for quite a long time. I wonder if the world will ever return to the days where it is semi-acceptable to have laryngitis in public. In any case, Portugal is on my bucket list of places to return.

Afternoon Arrival

With a late morning departure from our hotel in Barcelona, we did not arrive at our 2-bedroom, apartment style hotel in Lisbon until about 3:00pm. Wow! The place was amazing. Huge, lots of character, and a great location. It’s been a few years, but I would highly recommend Lisbon Short Stay Apartments Baixa.

The Waterfront

At this point we decided to take a stroll around the Baixa neighborhood, starting with a walk to the waterfront.

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Rua Augusta Arch

Next we headed towards the Arco da Rua Augusta, which was built sometime after 1755 to commemorate the rebuild of the city after a devastating earthquake, tsunami, and fire.

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During that 1755 earthquake, there were about 200,000 people living in the city and (depending on your source) between 10,000 and 40,000 people lost their lives. Scientists guess that the earthquake was somewhere between a 8.5 and 9.0 magnitude, which was then followed by a 20-foot tsunami.

To make matters worse, the earthquake occurred on Saturday, November 1, during the All Saints Festival. There were candles lit throughout the city, so when the earthquake hit, they all toppled over and started a massive fire that swept through the city. The city was almost completely destroyed, so this arch was a symbol of hope and victory.

Shopping Streets

We then continued up Rue Augusta (Augusta Street) and explored the shopping areas of the Baixa neighborhood.

It was quite pleasant to wander through the pedestrian zones. When traveling with children to large European cities, the ones that have car-free areas are always more pleasant than when you have to keep a close eye on them to keep them safe.

Carmo Convent

Eventually we made our way to the Convento do Carmo, a convent that was founded in 1389.

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The library was completely destroyed in the 1755 earthquake, the convent was abandoned, and the Guarda Real de Polícia (Police Royal Guard) eventually moved in. In 1864 the building was donated to the Association of Portuguese Archaeologists, who turned it into a museum.

King Pedro IV Square

We then continued to Praça Dom Pedro IV, which is better known as Praça do Rossio, or Rossio Square, which is a popular meeting and hangout point for both locals and tourists.

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Around 1450 the Palace of Estaus was built on the square to house foreign dignitaries, then it became a seat for the Inquisition, so the square was frequently used for executions, the first in 1540. Better was the hospital that was constructed on the square between 1492 and 1505. The square has also been used for revolts, bullfights, and other purposes.

Dinner

For dinner, I really wanted some fish, Lisbon is on the coast after all, so we wandered until we found a place that had a nice setting and a menu that we all agreed on. My sea bass was delicious!

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Evening Stroll

After dinner, we headed up to Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara, which a lovely park with amazing views of the city. I’m not sure why we didn’t take any pictures, but it was a lovely spot to enjoy the sunset. While there we bought some churros from a street vendor, then one of the boys got pooped on by a bird. Oh well.

We then spent the evening strolling back to the apartment through some of the same streets that we had explored earlier in the day.

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What a lovely day!

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