Its buildings sparkle candid on the borders of Europe, the light is transparent, the soul speaks and turns into music. That’s why to go there
Some compare it to the bow of a ship intended to sail the horizon. Others call it simply the white city. Perhaps for the color of its buildings, streets, transparency of light.
Lisbon seals the border of the Old World, looking out over the Atlantic from the west of continental Europe flap. Here we share the gaze of so many navigators of the past. The look, melancholy and anxiety. Fernando Pessoa, the greatest Portuguese poet of the twentieth century, has even dedicated a book to the concerns of the soul. There is a bit ‘of this feeling in the wind folds that refreshes the city during the summer, when they turn yellow in the paved streets, at night, in the light of the street lamps and especially the poignant voice of fado, the Portuguese song par excellence . It happens to hear it from a cafe, a restaurant. The atmosphere becomes languid, as in expectation of a return. It is the spirit of saudade, alchemy of loneliness and nostalgia.
Unfortunately we can only imagine the medieval ruins of the city. Lisbon was in fact almost totally destroyed by an earthquake in 1755, which killed thousands of people. The magnificent ruins of Convento do Carmo still bear witness to the scale of the disaster. He saved the Alfama district, between the São Jorge Castle and the Tagus River, where today can be seen some of the most ancient monuments. The same name of the neighborhood (from the Arabic Al-hamma, meaning fountains or baths) takes us back in time, when the city was ruled by the Moors. It is in this maze of streets that you can breathe the most authentic taste of Lisbon, between houses with whitewashed facades with lime or bright for the tiles, features ceramic tile with the enamel. The heart of Alfama is the Cathedral, all simply the Self. Repeatedly destroyed and rebuilt, it has the severe air of a fortress. However, the most beautiful gift of the neighborhood consists of the views. Unexpected, the end of the lanes open terraces as the Miradouro, which span from the top of the hill the houses and into the blue of the Tagus.
Oddly, the best known of the city is out of the center. No matter, because the short distance by train between the Cais do Sodre station and Belem is really nice. Along the broad estuary of the Tagus, it touches the big 25 de Abril Bridge, the structure of which resembles the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Then, the homonymous station, the Tower of Belem, a UNESCO World Heritage along with the nearby Monastery of Jeronimos, the resting place of Vasco de Gama. It is nice to walk in the great meadows near the river, frequented on weekends with families and joggers. The times of the great journeys by sea are far away, now, and the Tower of Belém apparently stranded on the shore, like a white marble torch. We have to use a little ‘imagination to bring it back to the middle of the Tagus, on that rock where it seems he was. Then, for boaters, it was the door of Europe. The threshold of civilization.
A jump on the bus, and from Lisbon you get in one of those places by the end of the world. It is unfortunate that those who often comes to town does not devote half a day to Cabo da Roca. Everyone knows it North Cape; Here, if you want, we are in the Western Cape. The continental European limit is a high cliff battered by the wind, with an old lighthouse and a plaque dedicated to the poet Luís Vaz de Camões. The stone says: Here … where the land ends and the sea begins. Not far away, the beautiful Guincho beach, one of Portugal’s most beautiful, with its golden sand dunes on which befall the Atlantic waves. It is a scenario suffered and grandiose, often marked by a veil of mist which dulls the edges. Arrived at Cabo da Roca, sit unhurried’s present and a privilege: the sunset. Not because it is more extraordinary than elsewhere. Simply because we are the last children of the Old World, except islands, to greet the sun before it is night.
Something to read: José Saramago, Nobel Prize in Literature in 1998, is the best-known Portuguese writer and acclaimed. Among his works suggest the novel Blindness. Those who like to travel literature can read the same author, Journey to Portugal. Both texts are published by Feltrinelli.
A movie to watch: Lisbon Story by Wim Wenders (1994). A happy encounter between cinema and literature is Pereira Roberto Faenza (1995), starring Marcello Mastroianni and based on the novel by Antonio Tabucchi.
Where to hear fado: you can not expect to learn about Lisbon without having heard the charming voice of fado, folk music emblem of Portugal. In Lisbon you will find the most famous fado houses in the Bairro Alto and Alfama. Go for example to the restaurant A Severa: 1955 offers, along with the best fado, the traditional cuisine. Another temple of fado is the restaurant Parreirinha de Alfama, an intimate setting with walls decorated with tiles. The evening is full of admirers of Fado listening enraptured. Those on a budget a bit ‘smaller instead choose the lovely Casa de Linhares.
The Museu do Fado: if you’re in love with this popular song and want to know the story and the characters, this museum not far from São Jorge Castle is perfect for you. There is also a small cafe and a shop where you can buy a little ‘music. (Http://www.museudofado.pt/)
To do in Lisbon: definitely you go to visit the Oceanarium not that we are to remind us, as each city guide are aspartic in praise. In fact, this huge aquarium dedicated to the oceans is a true wonder. If you like flea markets, take a ride to the Feira da Ladra, or the Thieves’ Market. Apparently it so calls because women, in the past, used to sell the stolen goods husbands. It is held on Saturdays and on Tuesdays near the Campo de Santa Clara and we are a bit ‘of everything, with large sections dedicated to vintage clothing and jewelery. Finally, it is forbidden to leave the city without having had drinks at the cafe A Brasileira, one of the oldest and most famous of Lisbon, in the heart of the Chiado district. You recognize coffee from a bronze statue outside the room, which portrays the poet Pessoa seated at a table.
A door off the Ocean: the top is going precisely to Cabo da Roca, but if you have time for a double excursion, take the coastal railway line and head Cascais. Here you can walk to the Boca do Inferno (Hell’s Mouth), a wide cleft in the cliffs where the waves produce a sound like a cry.