Old Quarter, Lisbon

Old QuarterOld Quarter

Located on the southeastern slope of the hill crowned by Castelo de Sao Jorge is Alfama, Lisbon's oldest quarter, which sufferred only slight damage in the 1775 earthquake. Visitors will find the unique atmosphere prevailing in the streets and alleyways of far greater interest than individual buildings.

Some houses in this quarter still stand on foundations dating from the times of the West Goths, but the whole structure of the area was essentially shaped by the Arabs. Although no houses remain from this era, the confused arrangement of its maze of streets and alleyways does. The name Alfama is also derived from Arabian origins and probably evolved from the word al-Hama, the name of the thermal spring which once bubbled here.

Casa dos Bicos

Casa dos Bicos is a Renaissance structure built in 1523. The facade is quite striking with geometric patterns of pointed stones that earned it the nickname "House of Diamonds".

Sé Patriarchal

Miradouro de Santa Luzia

On Alfama's northwestern edge on Rua do Limoeiro lies the Miradouro de Santa Luzia, one of the city's finest view points. From here a marvelous view across Alfama's roof tops to the Tagus, the Igreja de Santo Estêvao and the white dome of Santa Engrâcio can be enjoyed.
The viewpoint is in the form of a small park situated on part of the old city wall, which King Ferdinand I had laid out between 1373 and 1375. The original wall contained 34 doors and 77 towers, although only a few relics remain today.
Address: Largo da Santa Luzia 1100 - 487 LISBOA, Portugal

St George's Castle

St George's Castle was built on the site of an Iron Age settlement. It is visible from a distance as it stands on a hill above central Lisbon.

Igreja de Santa Luzia

A tile on the south side of the now closed Igreja de Santa Luzia (18th C.), built directly by the viewpoint, depicts the Praça do Comércio below on the Tagus in a view dating from before the earthquake and then still called Terreiro do Paço. A second tile shows the Portuguese conquest of the castle in 1147.
The square immediately to the north of Santa Luzia viewpoint offers a comprehensive view of Alfama.

Igreja de Sao Tiago

The Igreja de Sao Tiago, located opposite the Miradouro de Santa Luzia, dates from the 12th C. It was rebuilt after the earthquake. Of interest are the ceiling paintings and some painted tiles in the interior.

Largo das Portos do Sol

The modern statue on the Largo das Portos do Sol is dedicated to St Vincent, after whom the monastery is named and whose life is perpetuated on Lisbon's coat of arms.

Igreja de Sao Vicente de Fora

Igreja de Sao Vicente de Fora was built in the late 16th C at the direction of the Spanish king Philipp II. It replaced a 12th C church.

Igreja de Sao Miguel

Steps lead from the Largo das Portos do Sol (immediately behind the Igreja de Santa Luzia) down to the Igreja de Sao Miguel on the square named after it.
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.

Igreja de Santo Estêvão

Follow the Rua de Sao Miguel to reach the Igreja de Santo Estêvao on the raised Largo de Santo Estêvao. 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. Steps lead down from here to the Pátio das Flores, which is surrounded by decorated houses.

Igreja de Santa Engrácia

Built on the site of a 16th C church, Igreja de Santa Engrácia took approximately 300 years to build, and was completed in the 1960s.

Ermida de Nossa Senhora dos Remédios

The inconspicuous, mid 16th C. Ermida de Nossa Senhora dos Remédios, which stands somewhat below the Igreja de Santo Estêvao in the Rua dos Remédios, still has the Manueline entrance portal dating from before the earthquake. Some fine plates are on view in the interior.

Rua de Sao Pedro

The Rua de Sao Pedro ends at the northwestern boundary of the Largo do Chafarizde Dentro. This narrow street is very lively; an open air fish market takes place here every morning. Building number 6-10 is representative of the houses in this quarter.

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.

King's Fountain

The Rua de Sao Pedro leads into the Largo de Sao Rafael, from where Lisbon's oldest fountain, the Chafariz d'El Rei, can be reached via the Rua da Judiaria, the center of the former Jewish quarter, and through the Arco do Rosário to the Largo do Terreiro do Trigo.
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.

Thieves' Market

Lisbon's best known flea market, the Feira da Ladra, has taken place every Tuesday and Saturday since 1881 on the edge of Alfama on the Campo de Santa Clara near the Igreja de Sao Vicente de Fora.
The origin of the market is considerably older, with a market thought to have been held in the 12th C. In 1610 the name "Feira da Ladra" first appeared in a municipal decree. Before the market occupied its permanent site here it had been located on the Praça da Alegria, on the Rossio, on the Campo de Santaria and near the castle. Most of the professional traders on the flea market have meanwhile adapted themselves and their wares primarily to tourists, so a lucky bargain is unlikely to be found. Amateur traders can only be found in a small area of the market.

Museum of Decorative Arts

The 17th C. former city palace of the Count of Azurara stands on the Largo das Portas do Sol and currently houses the Museum of Decorative Art. The banker Ricardo do Espirito Santo Silva, whose family was one of the richest in Portugal, acquired the palace in 1947 and donated his collection to be the museum.
Portugal's most important furniture collection can be viewed here during a guided tour. Valuable wooden Portuguese, French and English furniture dating from the 16th to the 19th C. are presented in suitable surroundings. Bedrooms, dining rooms, function rooms, music rooms and dressing rooms from different eras have been reconstructed in their original forms here. The furniture is completed by wall hangings, silver work, porcelain, ceramics, collections of old books as well as some original tiling and ceiling paintings.
Part of the collection includes furnishings belonging to José I and his wife Maria: a bedroom and a children's room, both retained in the Manueline style. One of José I's coaches stands in the entrance hall. The museum contains a training workshop for craft workers, which is likewise affiliated to the foundation. Bookbinders, gilders and cabinet makers are trained here in traditional techniques.
Address: Largo das Portas do Sol, 2, 1100-411 Lisboa, Portugal

Convento da Madre de Deus

Convento da Madre de Deus is a former convent, founded in the early 16th C but rebuilt following the 1755 earthquake. Of particular note are the Renaissance Cloister, and the National Tile Museum housed in the cloister.

Marionette Museum

Puppet theater has a long tradition in Portugal. It reached its cultural zenith in the 18th C. with a marionette opera written especially for this form of theater. The originality of the opera has led it to be described as unique in the history of the theater. The members of the internationally famous Marionetas de S. Lourenço theater also present archaic, medieval and Baroque theater and undertake theater tours through Portugal. The collection, which is supported by the Gulbenkian Foundation, includes almost everything that should be in a marionette museum: puppets, props, sets, old illustated broadsheets, posters and some oriental puppets.
The Museum a variety of workshops for children, and serves as an ideal location for children's birthday parties.
Address: Rua da Esperança, 146, 1200-660 Lisboa, Portugal

Military Museum

The 18th C. classical building on the Largo dos Camnihos de Ferro houses the Museu Militar (Military Museum; entrance on the west side). In 1851 General José Baptista da Silva founded the Artillery Museum here and since 1926 it has been known as the Military Museum. A site was chosen with a relevant past history. Since the beginning of the 18th C. guns had been manufactured in an earlier building which burnt down in 1726. Weapons were produced in the present building up until the 20th C. For a long time the building served as the "Royal Arsenal". The main portal was built in the 18th C. by the French architect Maurice de Larre, the portal on the west side was completed by the Portuguese sculptor Teixeira Lopes at the beginning of the 20th C. On display are a variety of historical war documents, rows of weapons from different eras: cannons of all sizes, rifles, clubs, crossbows and a sword belonging to Vasco da Gama. Two rooms are devoted to the origins and development of Portuguese weapons. The museum's collection also includes reports from the Colonial Wars between 1961 and 1974. Parts of the ceilings and walls are extensively painted with glorified battle scenes.
Address: Largo do Museu da Artilharia (Santa.Apolónia), 1100-366 Lisboa, Portugal

Santa Apolónia Station

The Santa Apolónia Station is situated on the eastern side of the Largo dos Caminhos de Ferro. The building dates from 1886, although 30 years previously the first train ran along this stretch from the station which was then provisionally located in a former monastery. Trains for the north of Portugal as well as for France and Madrid use this terminus. In 1981, following an initiative by the newspaper "Tempo", a memorial was erected commemorating the many Portuguese who emigrated in search of work and better living conditions.

Igreja do Menino de Deus

A church well worth visiting, and one which evokes Italian associations, can be found on the eastern edge of the Castelo de Sao Jorge outside the castle walls.
The Igreja do Menino de Deus on the square of the same name was commissioned by Joao V. It is one of the few churches which survived the earthquake relatively undamaged. Construction began in 1711 but even today it has not been completely finished. This is why there are no towers and no sculptures in the niches made for them in the exterior above the main entrance and the side entrance.
The proportions of the interior, built on an octagonal ground plan, and the choice of warm colors radiate harmony and peace. The interior appears light and barely over ornate. Through its simplicity, the effect of the unusual ground plan comes to the fore.
Geometrically stylized flower decorations made from different colored marbles convey a friendly ease, almost elegance. The wall paintings in the eight discreet side chapels are the work of the Portuguese artists Jerónimo da Silva and Vieira Lusitano.
A small three story cloister with lovely blue and white tiling on the walls is linked to the church building. The church is closed apart from when Mass is celebrated, but requests to view can be made at the side entrance on the left.

Casa do Menino de Deus

A small, ochre colored building in the Igreja do Menino de Deus square (no. 4, with an extended bayed entrance), the Casa do Menino de Deus, dates from the 16th C.

Igreja da Conceiçao Velha

The Manueline portal of the Igreja da Concao Velha stands out noticeably from the rather inconspicuous, self contained row of houses on the Rua da Alfándega. The portal comes from the former, important Igreja da Nossa Senhora da Misericórdia which was built here at the beginning of the 16th C., but was almost completely destroyed by the 1755 earthquake.
This predecessor of the present church was built on the site of a synagogue on the request of the sister of Manuel I, Leonor von Bragança, who also initiated the Convento da Madre de Deus. The form of the Manueline portal is attributed to Joao de Castilho, who is considered one of the finest architects of this age.
Most typically recognizable embellishments are the Knight's Cross of Christ, the armillary sphere (a globe of metal rings representing the equator, tropics, etc.) on the right and the left and the Portuguese coat of arms.
The group of people above the portal include Leonor, her brother Manuel and Pope Leo X, above whom Nossa Senhora de Misericórdia spreads her protective coat.
The present entrance was the southern side door of the transept in the earlier, considerably larger church. The arrangement of the ground plan has therefore become completely different. Both of the two remaining, preserved windows on the southern facade and the altar chapel in the interior have been included within the new church.
Inside the one aisled building the painted stucco ceiling, the "M" of Manuel I and a crown make reference to the original church. The chancel is vaulted by a faceted barrel ceiling.
All in all, the interior appears isolated from the older entrance portal. While in the early 16th C. Manueline decoration was now and then added to the structure of older buildings already in existence, here the exact opposite was unavoidable. In both cases, however, the impression is easily formed that the different elements of style are isolated and disorganized when placed next to one another.
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