Everything You Need To Know About Top 10 Sights In Lisbon and Fatima

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Bemvindo Ao Porto de Lisboa

Porto de Lisboa (Port of Lisbon), meeting point of Tagus River (longest river in the Iberian Peninsula that flows from Spain to Portugal) and the Atlantic Ocean. It is located in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon. Due to its well planned site on the Portuguese coast between Europe, Africa and the Atlantic, it is one of the most accessed in Europe especially for cruise liners. But our vessel, M/T Knock Nalling ( a crude carrier) stayed here for dry dock right after we left Rotterdam Port in 1990. It gave me the opportunity then to explore Lisbon and Fatima, in Portugal.Lisbon got its name from Ulyssipo. Its discovery was credited to the legacy of Ulysses (Homer’s hero in The Odyssey). It can also be traced from Elisha, a grandson of Abraham. But more accurately, to the Phoenicians. Lisbon owes its historical fame to its natural harbor. It is one of the prettiest in the world.

Go further north from Lisbon is the pilgrimage town of Fatima. It is magnificently nestled among hills and old stone houses. As a Catholic, going to Fatima is among in my wish list destination. The place where Portugal’s famous legend came from. Here’s everything you need to know about the top 10 sights in Lisbon and Fatima.

Sightseeing At Torre De Belem And Its Significance To Portuguese History

Torre de Belem by the River Tagus

If you are familiar about the Age of Discoveries, here’s everything you need to know about Torre de Belem, one of the top 10 sights in Lisbon. The age of Discoveries was the period between the 15th-17th centuries when Portuguese explorers (Vasco de Gama, Ferdinand Magellan, Pedro Alvares Cabral, Bartolomeu Diaz) sailed the world in search for new trade routes. However, they did not only begin trading for gold, silver and spices but discovered new cultures in Asia, Africa and the Americas as well. And their ships set sail from the banks of River Tagus. Thus, their epic journeys started from the area of Belem, in Lisbon.

Torre de Belem was built between 1514-1520 to protect Portuguese sea routes. It became a great commercial and shelter port for navigators. Located in the heart of Tagus River, it served to protect Lisbon from enemy attacks. Without a doubt, Torre de Belem is the most famous sight in Lisbon. It is an emblem of the celebrated Age of Discoveries. This sight is a basic for understanding the history and culture of Portugal.

Visit the tomb of Vasco de Gama in Mosteiro dos Jeronimos

Built during the reign of King Manuel I of Portugal during the late 1400s with gold collected from Portuguese explorations, here’s everything you need to know about this World Heritage Site of Lisbon.

This monastery was turned over to the monks of the Order of St. Jerome, hence it bears his name. For many Portuguese explorers and navigators, it has been a place of prayer. They would come here to meditate before setting out for their sailing journeys. By the Church of Saint Mary, you will find the tomb of Vasco de Gama. He was the most famous of all the Portuguese explorers for his discovery of the sea route from Lisbon to India. Mosteiro dos Jeronimos then is a symbol of power and knowledge of the Portuguese. It is also the best symbol of a unique architectural style found only in Portugal – the Manueline. It’s a fusion of deco style from the sea and the lands they have conquered.

Ride At the Elevador de Santa Justa

A 19th century industrial age marvel, here’s everything you need to know about Elevador de Santa Justa, one of the top 10 sights in Lisbon.

It is a lift that carries passengers up from the lower Baixa district to the lowest road of Largo do Carmo. They are Lisbon’s highest and lowest areas. Built between 1898-1901 as per the plans of Porto-born architect Raoul Messier de Ponzard. He was a student of Gustave Eiffel (who designed Eiffel Tower). That is why Elevador de Santa Justa is as elegant as the Eiffel Tower. Powered once by a steam engine, it was later replaced by an electrical type in 1906. While in the 19th century, this elegant lift allow people to pass the steep hill from Baixa to Largo do Carmo, today it is classified as a national monument. It offers a 360 degrees panoramic view of Lisbon that should not be missed.

Enjoy Fado Music At Alfama District

Here’s everything you need to know about the oldest district and one of the top 10 sights of Lisbon. Did you know the city suffered from a great earthquake in 1755 and Alfama was the only area that had survived from this catastrophe? So different from the other areas of Lisbon, Alfama District has so much heritage and beauty to share.

Sandwiched between the city castle and Tagus River, its name is of Arabic origin, which means baths. Lisbon was once dominated by Moors from the Middle East. Thus its narrow streets and white-washed houses reflect Arabic culture. But the most famous attraction of Alfama District are the Fado bars. They play”Fado” (fate) music. It is a unique music genre endemic in Portugal. This is a type of music known for its sad lyrics and tunes that describe the plight of the poor and life by the sea.

Experience A Touch Of Fairy Tale In Sintra

Considered as a fairy tale village of Portugal, here’s everything you need to know about Sintra near Lisbon. Its awesome buildings, charming cobbled streets and hazy weather make it considered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Named after the moon goddess of the Arabs, Sintra is overflowing with “enchanting” castles and palaces that seem to come out straight from “Tales Of The Arabian Nights” story book. The surrounding lush forests add to the magical touch of the place.

Take A Ride In Tram 28

The iconic Tram 28 line is without doubt one of the top 10 sights in Lisbon. It travels from one end of the city to the other.When you are in this city, try not to miss the chance to ride in one of the famous yellow trams.

The vintage Tram 28 goes around Lisbon through wide avenues and narrow streets. It will take you to Lisbon’s important sights along the way. Known as “electricos” in Portuguese, tickets are valid for one day. This will enable you to hop in and off to your heart’s content.

Try A Bite Of Pastel De Nata

Crispy on the outside and creamy in the inside. As a foodie destination, to sink your teeth at a bite of “pasteis de nata” in Portugal is one of the top 10 sights you need to know in Lisbon.

Made famous in the 18th century by the monks of Mosteiro dos Jeronimos in Belem, Lisbon’s good old tart has a religious root.In those times, it was a practice to use egg whites to starch the sisters habits. The monks then used the left over egg yolks by baking them into yummy custards. Years later, they began selling them to make ends meet. Although monasteries in Portugal were shut down in 1820 due to the revolution, in Belem someone began selling tarts later in 1837 from one of the closed abbeys. Descendants of the original seller still runs Fabrica de Pasteis de Belem at present time. But they are very discreet in disclosing the tart’s recipe.

Meditate At The Sanctuary Of Fatima

In May 1917, while World War I was raging on, the Blessed Virgin appeared to three little children in Portugal. Two of them – Francisco and Jacinta Marto were siblings. The third, Lucia dos Santos was a cousin. They were tending their sheeps near their hometown of Fatima. It was at this time that Virgin Mary made a vision to them. The Blessed Mother’s visitations ended on October 13, 1917 after the miracle of the sun event and of which she also gave the “3 secrets” to the children. Francisco and Jacinta Marto dies from the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic on April 1919 and February 1920 respectively. Together with the 3 secrets of Fatima, their stories and that of Lucia would later on be the reason for the construction of the Sanctuary of Fatima.

Sanctuary of Fatima is a group of religious buildings near Cova da Iria. This was the place where the three children saw Mary’s apparition. You should know that this is the 4th biggest pilgrimage site in the world for Catholics. Walking on its sacred ground is a lifetime ambition which is one of the top 10 sights of Fatima.

Attend a Holy Mass At The Chapel Of Apparitions

Chapel of Apparition– heart of the Sanctuary of Fatima and the first building constructed in Cova da Iria. This was the exact spot where the Blessed Mother appeared. It is marked by a marble stone wherein the image of Our Lady stands. At this chapel, millions of pilgrims come to the sanctuary each year to attend a Holy Mass. This is what you need to know about one of the top 10 sights of Fatima.In the little village of Aljustrel

Visit The Home of Francisco and Jacinta Marto

In the small village of Aljustrel, about 2 kms. from the Sansctuary Of Fatima lived the three shepherds. You can either catch a train or walk down the Via Sacra road. To visit the home of siblings Francisco and Jacinta Marto is one of the top 10 sights you need to know in Fatima.

It was in this house that the two children died during the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918. To see their home is to understand the way of life in rural Fatima during that period.

Lisbon is known as a city built on 7 hills which is similar to cities like Rome, Istanbul and Moscow. An unusual landmark of the city is the so-called “Portuguese pavement”. The quirky design creates a remarkable atmosphere that will surely make your future Lisbon travel a lifetime experience. When the time is right, go…it should be in your Europe bucket list.

The whimsical “Portuguese pavement”

Reference: Wikipedia