What to see?
Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in western Europe making it a historic city full of landmarks that can be discovered just by wandering around. Here you can find some of the city’s most iconic places to visit.
Located just besides Tagus River, Belém is a charming district in Lisbon hosting the city’s most iconic tourist attractions such as the Belém Tower, the Padrão dos Descobrimentos or the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos.
World Heritage Site by Unesco, the Belém Tower (also known as the “Tower of St Vincent”) is a fortified tower. Originally, the tower was surrounded by water, standing in the middle of the Tagus River, and serving as a bastion of defence against attacks from enemy countries. Today, it stands being a prominent example of Portuguese Manueline style however it also incorporates elements of Moorish arquitecture.
A former monastery of the Order of Saint Jerome, this “jewel” of the Late Gothic Manueline style building was classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the nearby Tower of Belém, in 1983. Many of its decorative elements incorporate navigation symbols that refer to the Portuguese Age of Discoveries.
With a facade of over 300 meters and a formal garden at the front, it took more than 100 years to finish building the monastery. It’s undoubtedly a must-visit landmark in the capital.
Monument of the Discoveries
The Monument of the Discoveries is an imposing and iconic monument dedicated to the adventurers and explorers who helped establish Portugal as a 14th century superpower. Standing in a striking position on the bank of the Tagus River, the Monument to the Discoveries (in Portuguese “Padrão dos Descobrimentos”) was erected in 1940, as a central piece of the Portuguese World Exhibition. The monument resembles a caravel setting out to the sea, with Henry the Navigator in its prow.
The monument is divided in three parts: the exterior, the small museum inside and the viewing platform at the top of the structure. As such, it’s one of Lisbon’s most iconic buildings.
MAAT and Lisbon’s Electricity Museum
MAAT – Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology – is a new cultural centre in the city of Lisbon emerging as a hub to host national and international exhibitions from artists, architects and thinkers. Located in the riverfront of Belém’s historic district, MAAT has 3 thousand square metres of exhibitve space and 7 thousand square metres of public space being one of Lisbon’s main artistic and cultural attractions.
Next to MAAT, you can find the Lisbon Electricity Museum. A prime exemple of industrial architecture, the Museum is in a thermoelectric plant that operated here until 1951. The museum combines art, science and history and each visit is dedicated to energy sources, important scientists and educational games.
Belém Cultural Centre
CCB – Belém’s Cultural Centre - is a cultural centre with several attractions in one complex. The building has outstanding modern architecture and stands next to the historic Belém Tower. The Centre has temporary exhibitions all year round so be sure to check out which one is currently in exhibition!
As you have already probably figured out, Belém is one of Lisbon’s most iconic districts so be sure to visit it and enjoy all it has to offer!
Rossio Square is the popular name of the Pedro IV Square. It’s located in Lisbon’s Downtown. Historically, it’s been the setting of popular revolts, celebrations, bullfights and executions. Nowadays, it’s one of Lisbon’s main tourist attractions functioning also as a commercial hub. Be sure to check it out!
Santa Justa Elevator
The Elevator of Carmo or Santa Justa was constructed in 1902 and designed by Raoul de Mesnier du Ponsard, former apprentice to Gustave Eiffel, the architect behind the Paris’ Eiffel Tower. The elevator connects the lower and upper parts of the city.
The triumphal arch
The triumphal arch (in portuguese "Arco Triunfal da Rua Agusta") at the end of the pedestrian street Rua Augusta opens up on to Commerce Square. The Arch has constructed in 1755 and it has recently restored.
Ribeira das Naus
Recently renovated, Ribeira das Naus is a waterfront area that connects Praça do Comércio (Commerce Square) and Cais do Sodré. It’s a spacious promenade that’s a famous place to sit back, rest your tired feet, relax and enjoy the setting sun.
São Jorge Castle
One of Lisbon’s iconic “7 Hills”, George’s Castle looks down over Lisbon and is a major landmark that can be seen from anywhere in the city. The battlements of the Castle provide a fantastic view over Lisbon’s Downtown and Tagus River. Be wary that the walk to the castle can be especially draining, however it’s one of Lisbon’s main attractions that’s makes the trip worth!
Housing the tombs of Portugal’s major historic celebrities, the National Pantheon stands in the original site of the church of Santa Engrácia. The Pantheon’s architecture is a prime example of Portuguese Baroque.
The construction process was tumultuous and that’s why there’s a Portuguese saying “Obras de Santa Engrácia” (Works of Santa Engrácia) referring to anything that takes too long to complete or it’s unlikely to be finished.
The terrace is one of Lisbon’s most beautiful viewpoints providing a unique perspective of the city, especially Alfama District so be sure to check that out!
The Lisbon Cathedral better known as Sé de Lisboa (also known as just “Sé”) is one of the oldest churches in the city being one of the city’s most famous religious sites. The first building was completed around 1147 and since then the Cathedral has been modified and renovated several times.
The Cathedral is a prime example the expression “standing the test of time” since it has survived many earthquakes since it’s foundation. Be sure to check it out.
Parque das Nações
Constructed for the 1998 Lisbon’s World Fair, this neighborhood is essentially dedicated to leisure. The park runs along the bank of Tagus River for 5 kilometers. This modern part of the city has a Casino, cable cars, multiple restaurants, bars, theatres, parks, museums, pedestrian areas and a large shopping mall. Part of this ambitious project is the Oriente Train Station, a prime example of modern architecture that leaves anyone in a pure state of awe.
Vasco da Gama Bridge
Named after one of the most important Portuguese explorers, Vasco da Gama, this cable-stayed bridge was also inaugurated in time for Expo ’98, the World’s Fair that celebrated the 500th anniversary of the discovery by Vasco da Gama of the sea route from Europe to India.
It’s the longest bridge in Europe and was constructed because of the traffic issues that the city had during the mid 90’s which were becoming intolerable as 25 de Abril Bridge was unable to handle the massive volume of commuters every day.