The Pantheon is the place where many legends, presidents and writers are buried, including the Fado singer Amália Rodrigues. (Campo de Santa Clara. 10 am – 5 pm. Closed on Mondays. € 2,50. Free admittance until 2 pm, every Sunday and bank holiday)
This is a very large plaza, and one of its outstanding traits is the fact that one of its sides is exposed towards the river, creating a U shape. The plaza follows a very strict formula. The other three sides are occupied by uniform façades, whose ends towards the river are two beautiful towers with large windows. The opposite side has an outstanding triumphant arch in an astonishing, Romantic style in contrast to the rational order of the plaza.
In the centre of the plaza, you’ll find the king José I riding statue in bronze. In the same axis, but after the arch, you have the Rua Augusta, a very important pedestrian and commercial street of the Baixa (“Downtown”), connecting the Praça de Comércio and the Rossio.
While the sea embraces the river, the river is teeming with fat-bellied boats that cross it, and with the shadows of the hovering gulls. To travel by boat to the other side of the river and then back is a very pleasant thing to do, because this plaza was made to welcome people to Lisbon from the river. Lisbon itself is a city to be seen from the river.
To the north stands the National Theatre, with its Neoclassical columns and façade. It encloses the plaza in a unique way.
Around the plaza there are many terrace cafés, and a curious little fountainhead at the centre. Pigeons fly all around you. The plaza is covered in the typical Portuguese cobblestone work, with blue waves against a white background, reminding us all that this was made by a country of sailors.
The train line connecting Lisbon to Sintra starts here. But no one would say it was a train station, as it looks more like a Venetian palace.
It was built in the 19th century, in Neo-Manueline style, which is an example of Portuguese Romantic architecture, consisting of a fantasy-tinted recreation of the Renaissance Manueline style from the time of Discoveries. It has an iron ceiling as expected, but outside only a discrete, small clock reminds us that we do have time to see more of the city.
This particular hill was always used as a defence point: the Iberian Celts used it to build the “castros” (fortifications), later on the Romans and then the Arabs built their own walls on top of the previous ones. The present Castle was built by king João I in the 14th century. It is quite large and the exterior curtain walls are topped by bulky square towers. The central area completes the medieval fortress, whereas a second perimeter today blends into the city.
There are many Mediterranean trees within the structure, from cypresses to pine trees, creating a soothing and pleasant environment. (Winter: 9 am – 6 pm; Summer: 9 am – 9 pm. €5; free admission for children under 10 and senior citizens).
This church has the austere, simple façade of all Jesuit churches. The interior, however, is highly contrasting, with all its gold-leafed wooden sculptures, its paintings and tile murals, coloured marbles, in luxurious Mannerist and Baroque decorations. It also houses the São Roque Museum, a treasure trove of liturgical vestments, goldwork, ancient painting and unique books, stemming from the 16th to the 18th centuries. (Largo Trindade Coelho. Mondays: 2 pm – 6 pm; Thursdays: 9 am – 8 pm; rest of the week, including weekend days: 9 am – 6 pm. Closed all non-religious holidays).
It contains several medieval tombs, one of which is titled enigmatically “the tomb of the Unknown Princess”. The sacristy holds the relics of Saint Vicente. It also has a spectacular Baroque organ from the 18th century. (218 876 628. Largo da Sé. 9 am – 7 pm. Cloister: 9 am – 6 pm; €3).