Friday, 27 January 2012

Lisbon - Day 2. Afternoon

Praca do Comersio

Praca do Comersio

We had lunch at a restaurant close to Praca do Comersio.The food was well prepared and very tasty. I was so thirsty that I committed a sin: I had a beer instead of wine....MEA CULPA! Haha.! Seriously, in Portugal drinking beer instead of all those yummy wines is a sin. OK that was a joke. Let's move on.

Rua Augusta
The nearest place to visit was the Praca do Comersio.When we reached the square we were surprised to be in such vast space. While preparing for this journey I read the book and looked at many pictures, I have created some sort of idea about every sight of the city including this square, but when I found myself there, the place left me speechless. Huge is not the right word for the Praca do Comersio. This waterfront square is the place where the royal palace stood for over two centuries until 1755 when it was destroyed by the Great Earthquake. The royal family moved to another residence in the district of Belem, and the new arcaded buildings acted as the port of entry to the city. Right next to the square is the most famous street in Lisbon, Rua Augusta. In the evening we took a stroll down the street and I was very satisfied with what I saw. It's a pedestrian zone that's crowded with people during daytime. Lots of stores and coffee shops make this place very lively. I regret that I didn't manage to see it in daylight. Next time I will!

Tram 28 passing by Cathedral
One of the best ways to get a little rest from a long walk is to get on a tram number 12 or 28. Number 12 runs a short tour through Alfama and number 28 runs the longer tour around Lisbon, if I remember well. We went to Lisbon Cathedral-Sé de Lisboa on foot and after got on a tram number 12 to reach the castle. The ride didn't take long but enough to pass through the narrow streets of Lisbon. The streets constantly lead somewhere up. Passing through them made me feel I was passing through time. The past and the present share this place. You get the feeling that the time stopped yet it didn't, like the past and the present are intertwined in some way. A very unusual experience if you ask me!

Lisbon's Cathedral
Speaking of the cathedral I must say that Lisbon's ancient cathedral was built on the site of an old mosque in 1150 for the city's first bishop, the English crusader Gilbert of Hastings. If you look at it from the outside, with its two bell towers and a glorious rose window, it resembles a medieval fortress. Inside it appears predominantly Romanesque, with a Gothic choir and ambulatory.

Sao George Castle

Sao George Castle can be seen from almost everywhere in the city. Its oldest parts date from the 6th century. 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. Today it's, I could say, a small excursion site. Every day numerous people visit the castle, or better said the fortress.
Walking through the park and watching peacocks strut around and sitting in a restaurant was a lovely experience but the most amazing one was a walk around the walls and 18 towers.
It's a place that gives you the most breathtaking view of the city.

Sao George Castle
One of the castle's inner towers holds the Camera obscura and Periscope that projects sights from around the city.
Since it was a veeery busy day, we really needed a break. The next day however brought some new "tasks" and adventures.....
To be continued....

View of Praca do Comersio
Towers of Sao George Castle
View from Tram 12
View from Tram 12
Inside Cathedral
Inside Cathedral

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