Tuesday, 18 July 2017

What to visit in Lisbon – Torre de Belém

Celebrated in 2015 its 500th anniversary, the Torre de Belém is one of Lisbon’s landmarks and one of the most visited monuments.

Built in 1514-20 by Francisco Arruda and designed by Diogo Boitac, this defensive tower is a jewel of the Manueline architectural style, combining Moorish, Renaissance and Gothic elements into an amazing whole.

When the tower was built, the northern river bank was by the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos and so the
tower stood on an island closer to the middle of the river, controlling the ships’ approach in a more effective way.

Described below are, in our opinion, the spots not to be missed when visiting the Torre de Belém:

Governor’s Room
With a unique acoustics that amplifies the slightest whisper, this was where the tower’s governor discharged his duties. After it became obsolete, lighthouse keepers and customs officials use it as a working space.

Watchtowers
The Moorish influence is well noted on the watchtowers, their domes are seated on Manueline rope-like to a pile of small spheres reminiscent of the tops of chess pieces.

Virgin and Child Sculpture
A statue of “Nossa Senhora do Bom Sucesso” or “Nossa Senhora das Uvas” located in the “Terraço Baluarte” is facing the river, holding in one hand a bunch of grapes and a fig leaf. The image wished good luck to all of those who departed on the discoveries’ journeys.

Kings Room
A room that overlooks the main deck – comparisons to a ship are unavoidable here. The balconies on each side of the tower are pure Manueline. It is said that the kings liked to come here to view the arrival and departure of the ships.

Battlements
The merlons of most of the tower’s battlements are decorated with the cross of the Order of Christ, carved to look like features on a shield. The smaller merlons at the rear and on top of the tower are crowned with pyramid-shaped spikes.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Lisbon’s Museums and Monuments

Tourists’ interest in Portuguese culture exploded in 2016, and 2017 promises to be even better.

When walking the streets of Lisbon, one can easily see the increasing number of tourists visiting the city. The lines to access major sights, monuments and museums, especially over the weekends, are the major obstacle for those who don’t have a great amount of time to visit the city.

The numbers now available, clearly demonstrate that the growth is real, in the 1st trimester of 2017 visits to Lisbon’s monuments, palaces and museums increased 14% and the Castelo the São Jorge is the most visited one.

Regarding the museums the increase was 10%, and here is where we can easily see the tourists’ influence, in 2011 only 38% of visitors to the museum were tourists, which in 2016 raised to a little over 50%.

For instance, the event “Night at the Museums” welcomed in 2015 10,833 foreigner visitors, in 2016 that number reached the 45,611 mark.

In terms of the most visited museums, Museu Coleccção Berardo ranks first, but this is most certainly influenced by its free access. Ranked in second is the Fundação Gulbenkian, in third the Museu dos Coches followed by the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga and the Museu do Azulejo.

Strangely enough, the most visited exhibition is from one of the most visited museums, the exhibition of Joana Vasconcelos in Palácio da Ajuda, followed by “O meu corpo é o teu corpo” at the Museu Colecção Berardo and “José de Almada Negreiros: Uma maneira de ser moderno” at the Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian.

The study presents other curious facts, for instance, that English tourists prefer monuments, the French museums, and the Spanish palaces. The study also demonstrates that the visitors to the museums are young, mostly women and educated.

Source: Expresso

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Beaches not to miss this summer

Summer is at the door and so, today, we introduce you to 3 beaches not to miss this season.

Although Lisbon is not a typical summer destination our location makes it very easy to visit some of Portugal’s most beautiful beaches. Here are 3 that you should definitely visit this year:

Foz do Arelho
The Foz do Arelho beach, next to Óbidos Lagoon is a place where nature has given us, with its exceptional therapeutic qualities and an extensive beach, a place of choice for surfers, the peacefulness and the calm waters of the Lagoon are a charm for the children. In the area of the small quay, you can buy all the different species that the Lagoon has to offer, from cockles to clams, on this beach you will find great esplanades and restaurants, where you can delight yourself with fish dishes, fried eels, clams and the magnificent “caldeirada da Lagoa” .

Praia Grande (Big Beach)
As its name indicates, it is a wide beach, very popular amount surfers and body boarders. Praia Grande has the longest unbroken stretch of sand in the area, offering a good variety of bars and restaurants.
As a curiosity, be sure to observe the remains of the dinosaurs’ presence that are engraved in the south of the beach.

Lagoa de Albufeira 
Located in Sesimbra, in the lagoon, it is a unique combination of fresh water from the streams of Apostiça, Ferraria and Aiana, and of salt water from the sea, and when it reaches the 15 meters of maximum depth, the Lagoa de Albufeira is considered the deepest of Portugal.
Surrounded by pine forest almost all around its perimeter, it has small sandy areas by the sea and on the north shore. The calm waters and the wind create perfect conditions for the practice of windsurfing, kitesurf and sailing.

Monday, 12 June 2017

What to do around the Hotel - 10 tips by the Concierge (part 2)

Here is the 2nd part of our Concierge's recommendations of what to know around the hotel, enjoy.

6.  Baixa - Downtown Lisbon

Europe's first urban planning - downtown Lisbon's broad square and pedestrian streets.
Baixa, or downtown Lisbon, is the heart of the city. The main shopping and banking area district that stretches from the riverfront to the main avenue (Avenue Liberdade), with streets named according to the shopkeepers and craftsmen who traded in the area. It was completely rebuilt after the Great Earthquake of 1755 with streets flanked by uniform, neoclassical buildings.

7.  Lisbon's Cathedral

Lisbon's oldest building. Lisbon's ancient cathedral was built by Portugal's first king on a side of an old mosque in 1150 for the city's first Bishop, the English crusader Gilbert of Hastings.
From outside (with 2 bell towers and a splendid rose window) it resembles a medieval fortress, while inside it appears predominantly Romanesque, with a Gothic choir and ambulatory.

8. Castle of St. George

Overlooking the city from millennium-old walls
Saint George's Castle can be seen from almost everywhere in the city. Its oldest parts date from the 6th century, when it was fortified by the Romans, Visigoths, and eventually the Moors. It served as a Moorish royal resident until Portugal's first king Afonso Henriques captured it in 1147 with help of Northern European crusaders on their way to the Holy Land. It was then dedicated to St. George, the patron saint of England, commemorating the Anglo-Portuguese pact dating from 1371, and became the royal palace until another one (that was destroyed in the Great Earthquake) was built in today's Comércio Square.

9.  Miradouro Nossa Senhora do Monte (Our Lady of the Hill Viewpoint)

This is the highest point in the city, and its serene atmosphere attracts young couples. A small image of the Virgin standing in front of a chapel dedicated to the Saint Gens overlooks the city.

10.  Comércio Square

Lisbon's monumental riverside square.
The vast waterfront square also is known as Terreiro do Paço or the "palace's square", is where the Royal palace stood for over 2 centuries until 1755, when it was destroyed by the Great Earthquake. The royal family moved to another residence in the district of Belem, and the new arcaded buildings acted as the port of entry to the city.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Marchas Populares 2017

Monday is the big day! The day that the Avenida da Liberdade will host another St. Anthony’s parade.

The Marchas Populares are a long-standing tradition of the city of Lisboa and a source of the purest neighborly cultural pride.

Each year on the evening of June 12th, the different city neighborhoods descend one of Lisbon’s most iconic avenues, Avenida da Liberdade, in a parade showcasing the dedicated efforts of the different city communities and districts.

There are 20 marches competing against each other with songs, lyrics, costumes, choreographies and overall impression judged by a special jury. The first parades took place on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th of June at Meo Arena, but it is in the Avenida da Liberdade that the competition is taken to another level.

This night is also the scene to an enormous party, street festival and dance, unmistakable for the smell of grilled sardines and manjericos (basils) permeating the entire city. A party that is uniquely lisboeta and that each year draws thousands of people onto the streets of the city and that only winds down early in the following morning.

Come and join us in this unique celebration that will join roughly 2000 participants.



Saturday, 3 June 2017

What to do around the Hotel - 10 tips by the Concierge (part 1)

In Lisbon, there's always something to visit and to discover and a wide range of possibilities and experiences. 

Walking through this thousand years old city, rich in monuments and typical neighborhoods where the city finds its roots and remain close to its most genuine traditions is perhaps the best way to feel its life pulsating.

To help you discover the city around the hotel here are some of our Concierge recommendations.                                              
1. Miradouro São Pedro de Alcântara
A garden with a panoramic view over Lisbon Miradouro São Pedro de Alcântar is a garden with
panoramic views across the city to St. George Castle and central Lisbon. A map made of tiles marks all the distinctive buildings, and the lower geometric garden contains busts of heroes and gods from Greco-Roman mythology, such as Minerva and Ulysses.   

 2.   São Roque Church & Museum of Sacred Art Home of the world's most expensive chapel.

 The church with the plainest façade in Lisbon as one of the city's richest interiors. Each of the chapels is a masterpiece of Baroque art but the showpiece is the fourth one left, the world's most expensive chapel. Adjoining the church is a Museum of Sacred Art, containing 16th Century Portuguese paintings (including one of Catherine of Austria, and another of the wedding ceremony of King Manuel I), a display of vestments, and an impressive collection of baroque silver.

3.   Bairro Alto & Chiado

Lisbon's Cultural and bohemian heart; nightlife and shopping mecca.
Bairro Alto is a picturesque working class quarter dating from the 16th century that has traditionally been the city's bohemian haunt of artist and writers.
Neighboring Chiado is an elegant, sophisticated district of theaters, bookshops, old-style cafes, art
nouveau jewelry and luxurious international names such as Hermes and Cartier

4.   Carmo Convent and Church Romantic Gothic ruins. 

The ruins of this gothic church are evocative reminders of the devastation left by the 1755 earthquake. At the time of the earthquake is was the largest church in Lisbon, but today the roofless nave open to the sky is all that remains of the arches and rubble that caved in on the congregation as they were attending mass. In what used to be the main altar is now a small archaeological museum with an eclectic collection of tombs (the largest on in of King Ferdinand I), statuary, ceramics, and mosaics.

5.   Santa Justa Elevator

An Eiffel Tower-like landmark overlooking the city. On of the city's best-loved landmarks and also know as the "Elevator of Carmo" this extraordinary structure was built at the turn of the century by the Portugal-born French architect Raoul de Mesnier du Ponsard (an apprentice of Gustave Eiffel, explaining the structure's similarities to Paris' Eiffel Tower), to connect downtown to Bairro Alto (lowest and highest points of the city).

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Ginjinha

Ginginha is one of the most Portuguese typical drinks and today, we’ll introduce you to it. Present in every market or any typical tavern, it has its “hotspots” in Rossio Square.

The morello (or sour) cherry is the fruit of the morello tree (Prunus cerasus L.), which belongs to the same species of the cherry tree (Prunus avium L.). Although from distinct species, the fruit of both trees have great similarities, the morello cherry is more acidic than the cherry which is sweeter.

The morello tree had its origin in the Southwest Asia but was brought by the Romans to various places of their empire.

In Portugal, there are written references to its presence since, at least, the 1st century A.D.. In the 15th century, the use of the morello cherries was already very common in our country, either for fresh consumption or for medicinal applications. In the 18th century, due to conventual recipes, a handmade drink of morello cherries dipped into brandy started to be marketed. This experiment recipe later evolved into the well-known ginjinha (little morello, in Portuguese).

Nowadays, ginjinha is a liqueur obtained through the maceration of the morello (sour) cherries with sugar and aguardente (a Portuguese brandy), without preservatives. But still, it is frequently flavored
with other ingredients such as cinnamon stick or vanilla. It has a red or ruby color, it is fruit-scented, with velvety and sweet or bittersweet intense flavor. With an alcohol content of around 20%, it ought to be savored at a temperature of about 10°C, as a digestive, or simply whenever you feel like it.


The ritual of drinking this liqueur is very simple as you can either have it without the morello cherries, "ginjinha sem elas” (ginjinha without them) or with the morello cherries, "ginjinha com elas” (ginjinha with them).

Like other fado singers, the eternal Amália Rodrigues dedicated a fado song to ginjinha, praising it. It is a typical product of some Portuguese regions such as Serra da Estrela and Algarve, with a higher reputation in the regions of Óbidos and Alcobaça. In Lisbon, ginjinha is especially popular and it is one of the capital’s ex-libris.