If you’re looking to cruise to one of the oldest cities in the world and the oldest city in western Europe, there’s no shortage of history in Lisbon, Portugal! The city is rich in architecture and also is crossed by historical boulevards and monuments along the main thoroughfares. There is a unique beauty when strolling along the waterfront and riding one of the historic trams through the winding alleyways of the city.
Come along on an exploration of Lisbon that highlights some of the “must-sees” in this European cruise capital.
A visit to Rossio Square is the perfect starting point for your exploration of Lisbon. The Rossio has been a meeting place for people of Lisbon for centuries. Some of the cafés and shops of the square date from the 18th century, like the Café Nicola, where poet Manuel Maria Barbosa du Bocage used to meet friends on a regular basis. Other traditional shops include the Pastelaria Suíça and the Ginjinha, where the typical Lisbon spirit (Ginjinha) can be tasted.
One of two UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Lisbon, the Belém Tower is absolutely worth a visit. The tower was commissioned by King John II to be part of a defense system at the mouth of the Tagus River and a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon. The 16th century tower is considered one of the main works of the Portuguese late Gothic-Manueline style. This is especially apparent in its elaborate rib vaulting, crosses of the Order of Christ, armillary spheres and twisted rope, common with the nautical, organic nature of this style.
The Jeronimos Monastery, also known as the Hieronymites Monastery, is a 16th-century architectural masterpiece designed in Gothic-Manueline style and built to commemorate the discoveries of the Portuguese navigators. Originally the home for the Hieronymite religious order, it was built by the Infante Henry the Navigator around 1459 and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 along with the Belem Tower.
The Discoveries Monument was built in Lisbon in honor of Henry the Navigator, who led Portugal’s discovery expeditions into the New World during he 15th century. It was designed in 1939 by the Portuguese architect Jose Angelo Cottinelli Telmo alongside sculptor Leopoldo de Almeida. Initially intended as a temporary structure to mark the opening of the Portuguese World Fair that took place in Lisbon in June 1940, the original structure was demolished after the exhibition, however it was decided by Royal Decree in 1958 that a permanent structure should be erected and an exact replica was created.
Welcoming seagoing traders for centuries, the impressive Praça do Comércio (or Commercial Square) was the former site of the Royal Ribeira Palace before it was destroyed in the Lisbon Earthquake of 1755. The square is aptly named to indicate its new function in the economy of Lisbon. The symmetrical buildings of the square were filled with government bureaus that regulated customs and port activities. The main piece of the ensemble was the equestrian statue of King José I, inaugurated in 1775 in the center of the square. This bronze statue, the first monumental statue dedicated to a King in Lisbon, was designed by Joaquim Machado de Castro, Portugal’s foremost sculptor of the time.
Many of these sights are featured on cruise shore excursions, and descriptions, reviews and pre-booking can all be done online.
If you’re looking to take a cruise that calls at Lisbon, Holland America Line has 29 voyages on ms Eurodam, ms Prinsendam, ms Rotterdam and ms Ryndam between now and through 2015 to this exciting city. Will you be joining us?
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