Friday, March 9, 2012

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon is like a city on display, draped across the hillsides above the Rio Tejo, and a beautiful display it is, too. Dig deeper into Portugal’s capital, though, and you’ll quickly find that it’s unpretentious about its beauty; welcoming and lively, yet still hiding sumptuous corners unchanged since the 1930s, and brimming with the kind of charm that had you traveling in the first place. It might have tinges of the old and antiquated – and alluring ones at that – but parts of Lisbon are extremely up to the minute. The MUDE Fashion and Design museum will take fashionistas through the latest of the minute styles, while there’s plenty in the way of modern art, art deco and gorgeous fusion cuisine to track down, too.

 The old parts of the city, though, are very much as they’ve always been, with tables set out on cobbled back streets serving olives and local wine, and the same rustic, about-to-break trams winding through the streets that have been their for decades. The historical sights haven’t changed much, either. Most of them sit at the top of the many hills, giving spectacular views from the undulating peaks down to the shimmering coastline. The Belem Tower is the city’s iconic sight, a towering seaside turret that from certain angles looks like it’s disconnected from the shore altogether. The Jeronimos Monastery was built in the 16th century to commemorate Vaso De Gama’s departure for India, and is now a world heritage monument coated in sculpture and hosting the explorer’s tomb. Look up, and you can hardly miss the Castle of St. George, which dates back in parts to the 6th century, and – though very peaceful now – still hosts cannons, a guarding moat and a full on multimedia exhibition to help you understand it all. 

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