Where to start? We spent a lot of December and January with Lisbon as our base of operations. This gave us plenty of time to explore the city at our leisure. Which was a very good thing, because there is a lot to do in Lisbon, and it can get pretty overwhelming, especially when it is crowded. Having a base of operation was a nice way to balance how much you can do with some down time.

Most of the roads, sidewalks, and squares are paved with stones. This started after the earthquake that devastated the city in the 1700s. In order to reduce mud and make getting around cleaner and easier, the rubble was used around the city. Today? The paving is known as Calçada,  and very often includes beautiful and whimsical patterns. This merperson is located in a park near the river.
Our stay was over the Holidays. There were lots of lights and decorations around town. We walked past this tree daily as our lodgings were near by. We dubbed it the “cat proof tree.”
The city, as seen from one of several miradouros on a hill. Miradouros are viewpoints, often with a park and cafe. Lisbon is a city on Seven hills, so lots of veiwpoints!
At the Church in the Graca neighborhood. It began as a Monastery and the dining hall was ringed with these tile murals telling the history of the order. This tile memorialized the conversion of some African Leaders.
Inside the chapel. We got some advice early on to always look up. So, here is a shot of the ceiling.
One of the enclaves in the church. This one shows some of the black saints, which you don’t see very often.
Fado is the music of Portugal, and this is a calçada mural of one of the most famous Fado singers of the 20th century. The mural was done by an artist know for public art around the city and elsewhere. No, I did not have the chance to record the name, but we did see many examples of the art he has done around the city.
More street art in the old sector of the city. We saw a piece by the same artist in Coimbra, and there were several more around Lisbon.  No, I didn’t get his name either.
We were told to look up, but don’t forget to take a quick look at the floors too!
Around the corner from our lodgings we found the Bistro Carioca, a recently opened restaurant run by a wonderful couple from Brazil. Both were musicians, and Rafael will bring out his guitar and serenade customers whenever there is a chance. The food was amazing too! Since we were there at Christmas, we got to take advantage of their “take and heat” Holiday Dinner. It was a traditional Portugese cod dish with rice and Brazilian Farofa – ground casava root – made with grandpa’s recipe. Delicious!
A wonky lock in our accommodations meant a service call. The very nice man spent a good amount of time trying to fix the electronic lock before he had to just put in a physical key lock. Fortunately, he had the right tools! We sent him off to his dinner with a beer for thanks.
At Castelo de São Jorge there are peacocks and peahens roaming the grounds.
Very pretty Peacocks.
The walls of the castle.

We took a walking tour, one of three we took with the same guide, and were advised to check out the Lisbon Geographic Society to see the collection. We took that advice and enjoyed an informative time looking at the building and many treasures from Portugal’s 19th Century explorations. They had items from India, China, and Africa. Brazil was already independent when the Society was formed, so it was not represented in the collection. The building is worth the visit, and the displays were very interesting.

This is a stone marker left on the southwest coast of Africa several hundred years ago as Portugese explorers expanded trade routes.
The Portugal Room. There are display cabinets with artifacts circling the main meeting room for the society.
They have a smaller meeting room that also holds a map with the routes around the world blazed by the Portugese.

Our guide for the walking tour, Peter, also recommended we go to the Pantheon and  the Monestary nearby. Both buildings were well worth the visit. Many notable Portugese are entombed in the Pantheon, politicians, poets, sports figures, and explorers are all there.

The impressive Rotunda of the Pantheon.

From the Pantheon, it is a short walk, and only slightly uphill, to the Mosteiro de Sao Vincente de Fora. The monestary is well worth the visit for both the building and the exhibits.

Some of the tile work in the receiving room of the Monestary.
The floor and railings in the receiving room of the Monestary. It makes for an impressive introduction.
The courtyard of the Monestary.
A bench in the Monestary with some lovely tilework.
The ceiling. Always look up when roaming around buildings, you are going to see some lovely stuff!
And look down. Often, there are these markers on the floors of chapels noting burial sites.
A view of the river from the roof of the Monestary. This may be the best reason to visit – you can wander on the roof and get many great views of the city.
One of the views from the roof of the Monestary is the roof of the Pantheon – which you can also access and look over to the Monestary.
The roof – yes, we enjoyed the perspective up here.

We happily recommend the walking tour we took, it was very informative and served as a “sampler platter” of the area because Peter, our guide, recommended various places that were worth a more in-depth visit. One of those places was the 11th Century Se, or Cathedral. Harking back to the rule of Portugals’ first king and rebuilt after the earthquake, it holds a wealth of history and artifacts. And, across the street in the small square, the public toilets are built above some Roman ruins. They are visible from the steps before you need to pay to use the toilets, so you can visit even if you don’t need a pit stop.

Another roof view point, this from the Se (Cathedral) in Lisbon. Another stop well worth the visit. Parts of the 11th century building survived the earthquake, and it has been in use for a long time. That square is where the Roman ruins can be viewed.
A view into the Catherdral from the Choir loft.
A stained glass window in the Catherdral.
More beautiful stained glass.
The organ in the Se.

The municipal trains around Lisbon will take you to many notable sights, some are historic, some are beaches, and all are easily accessible and affordable. We took the train out to the west of the city center and enjoyed a lovely day walking along the river and looking at the lines of people to visit some of the iconic sites of Lisbon. As we waited for our return train, we noticed the Coaches Museum across the way from the train station. As it was late in the day and we were a bit punchy, the speculation included “sports museum” and “train engine barn.” When some expats living in the city said ‘it’s well worth the visit,’ but didn’t tell us why, we added it to the plans. It is an amazing museum. There are royal coaches – you know the horse-drawn carriages, like the one that took Cinderella to the ball – dating back to the 1600s on display. They are in great shape, and, even better, the displays have really good interpretive signs detailing the provenance, engineering, and other significant information about the coaches.

The building is modern, and the coaches are laid out in an orderly and chronological fashion. And there are a lot of them.
And they are elaborate. The signs expain who built them, and why. We aren’t huge museum people, but we both agreed that these explanations made the exhibit more interesting and fun.
The signage explained that this coach was an early user of a suspension system from Berlin that used the thick leather straps to smooth the ride.
A concept vehicle. Not a royal coach like everything else in the place, but totally deserving of its parking spot!
coach – just go to the museum when in Lisbon. In fact, if you’re on the fence about a visit to Portugal, this place is a reason to go.

With so much time in Lisbon, we indulged in many random activities, including weekend craft and art markets, museums, and long walks that may have included checking out scenic and fancy cemetaries.

This fancy tilework is on the wall of a building where the LX Market, a craft and art market with some amazing booths, art galeries, and restaurants.
Another big map that caused me some map envy. This map is in the entry to the Maritime Museum. The museum was very informative and fun.
This is a navigation sphere, and representations of these appear all over Portugal.
The cannons are both deadly and whimsically decorated.
The museum houses many models of sailing vessels, showing the breadth of Portugese naval accomplishment.
And a fair number of actual ship parts, not just the cannons.
There is an entire wing to house various Royal Barges used in the river. Not quite as extensive as the Coaches Museum, but included is the barge used by the last King of Portugal. This barge was brought out to carry Queen Elizabeth on the river during her first Royal Visit in the 1950s.
An impressive succulent growing in the botanical garden.
A whimsical mauseleum in the Cemiterio de Prazeres. This cemetery is actually at the end of one of Lisbon’s iconic street car lines. Of course, we didn’t find this out until we had walked, uphill, of course, quite a distance from the train stop. The trolley ride back was fun, and the views from the cemetary were well worth it!

Lisbon has a lot going on, and this long post is just a small sampling of what we were able to do!

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