Alfama, our neighborhood in Lisbon

Alfama, our neighborhood in Lisbon

We lived one week on December 2014 in Alfama, the oldest district of Lisbon. It was a charming borrowed time in Alfama. It has many historical attractions, churches and Fado bars. Alfama is a maze of narrow cobbled alleys with buildings covered with azulejos.  It’s easy and at the same time enjoyable getting lost in it. From balconies flapped bed sheets, towels and clothes, even underwear. It has several viewpoints with orange cityscape. In some streets came century-old trams screeching by. A long time ago, when the North African moors dominated the district, fishermen and the poor inhabited Alfama. Even now, it is still seen as the neighborhood of the poor. One evening, as we did our grocery at the neighborhood store, a fight ensued between two drunken men. One of the men took refuge in the grocery store. There were shouting and threats, and the whole street seemed to be involved. Neighbors went out to check what was going on and stayed outside to witness more boxing match. I would’ve loved to stay, but my six-yead old daughter had to sleep. It sort of reminded me of street fights and neighborhood drama in my own hometown, Guadalupe Nuevo in Makati, Philippines. And believe me, no street fight has ever scared me. 🙂  So what historica sights are there in this district? Sé Cathedral Igreja de São Vicente de Fora or Monastery of São Vicente de Fora Panteão Nacional or National Pantheon or Church of Santa Engracia Museo de Fado Castelo de São Jorge To see where we lived, click my blog entry At Pedro’s aparment...
Spirit of Ginjinha

Spirit of Ginjinha

Ginjinha is a typical Portuguese drink. Our friend Pedro introduced it to us.  It’s a mixture of ginja, or sour cherries, and alcohol. I don’t like drinking it as it is. I prefer to drink it the way people in Óbidos, Portugal, do. That is, drinking it in a small edible chocolate cup. It was a friar who concocted...
Funiculars of Lisbon

Funiculars of Lisbon

The funicular system of Lisbon consists of four elevators. We rode two of them: the Gloria funicular and Santa Justa Lift.  Gloria funicular is very much like riding a tram, but the descent or ascent goes diagonally. It is also as crowded as a tram. Santa Justa Elevator is different than the other funiculars because it’s a vertical one. And it doesn’t look like a tram, instead it’s a huge and very old-fashioned elevator. Reaching the top leads to a lookout with panoramic views of Lisbon. Hubby complained a lot as we queued for both funiculars. I feel though that they were worth checking out – at least once – to get a feel of what the ado was all about. The funiculars are natonal monuments, and tourist magnets. They are also around a century old....
Accessible art in Lisbon

Accessible art in Lisbon

I see art in many streets, if not all the streets, in Lisbon. Art is the beautiful tilework azulejo that covers building facades. Art is the colorful legal graffiti painted in backstreets. It is photographies permanently posted on apartment walls And if you look down on the ground, there’s art through decorative stone pavings. And art in Lisbon is free. Accessible to anyone walking by. To art lovers like me.      ...
Auto-da-fe at Rossio

Auto-da-fe at Rossio

Spain had its inquisition, and so did Portugal. Rossio square in Lisbon was one of the scenes for auto-da-fes. Inquisitions, which started in the 1500s, used to target former Jews who converted to Catholicism. Many of the victims in the Portuguese Inquisition were Spanish jews who moved to Portugal. Somehow, these ex-jews still applied old customs, thus making them “guilty” of witchcraft and heresy. Rossio was also the scene for bullfights and public executions. Reminds me so much of Plaza Mayor in...
Where a taifa ruler once lived

Where a taifa ruler once lived

Sintra National Palace is another palace that I’ve visited that has islamic moorish roots. It’s beautiful inside. The boring white facade and two chimneys make it somehow easy to underestimate this medieval palace. We were hesitant to see inside. But we paid to get in, anyway. We didn’t go all the way to Sintra just to look at building facades after all. My favorite in the palace is the Blazons hall. All four walls of the hall are covered with azulejos depicting country life. And the ceilings are just as beautiful. There’s a decoration – a magnificent miniature Chinese palace made of ivory, so I had to explain to my daughter that using ivory is not good. It means torturing  many elephants to sever their trunks. Sintra National Palace was once owned by a muslim taifa ruler in the 700s. There’s another medieval castle in Sintra that we visited, Castle of the Moors....