Monday, August 19, 2013

The Alfama

The Alfama
Frommer’s Self-guided Walking Tour
Start: Praça do Comércio.
Finish: Castelo de São Jorge.
On August 12th, we used Frommer to help guide us through the Alfama.  Included below is the information provided for us to follow (in italics) as well as some of our own anecdotes of our experience.   

The streets of the Alfama are best traversed on foot; but at times you must walk up steep stone stairs. Once aristocratic, this fabled section has fallen into decay. Parts of it still allow the visitor a rare opportunity to wander back in time, though.

We did take our stroller and were able to navigate fairly easily throughout the day.  However, we had a great workout as Amelie usually hops on the front of the stroller causing us to push double the weight.  We enjoyed Praca do Comercio as it allows for lots of free space to run.  We also stopped for a bite to eat before we began our quest of climbing more hills.

They were proud that they were both wearing bird shirts.
Liam loves spotting the fish everywhere!
Waiting on our food.  We asked for tap water and the waiter almost wouldn't bring it to us saying that it wasn't good for the children.  After he left Bobby said he probably went and got it from the toilet for us.  Amelie then proceeded to talk about drinking toilet water for the rest of our lunch. :/ 

From Praça do Comércio, opening onto the water at the foot of Rua Augusta, which splits the center of midtown Lisbon, head east along Rua da Alfândega, which links Lower Baixa to the southern tier of the Alfama. When you reach the intersection with Rua de Madalena, head north, or left, to the Largo da Madalena. The square is dominated by:
1. Igreja de Madalena
This church dates from 1783 and incorporates the Manueline portico of a previous church that was built on this site.

Take Rua de Santa António da Sé, following the tram tracks to the small:

2. Igreja de Santo António
Opening onto Largo de Santo António de Sé, this church is from 1812, and was built over the beloved saint's alleged birthplace. 

A few steps higher, and to the immediate southeast, stands:

3. Sé de Lisboa
This is the cathedral of Lisbon, opening onto the tiny Largo da Sé. One would think that the cathedral of a major European capital would be graced with a more impressive edifice, but what you see is what you get. 

Continuing east into the Alfama, go along Rua Augusto Rosa which becomes Rua do Limoeiro. You'll soon be at:
Amelie is loving climbing everything lately.  She found a tree with an impressive root system to climb into.
We saw the trolley go by many times...a couple of times wishing we were on it to help us walk uphill.
Beautiful street views in all directions.
4. Miradouro de Santa Luzia
This belvedere is the most famous in the Alfama. From this viewpoint, you can look down over the jumble of antique houses as they seemingly pile into the Tagus River. The once impressive church, Igreja de Santa Luzia, that opens onto this square has seen better days. The fine glazed tiles that once adorned the exterior have been carted off, leaving the church a rather sorry sight and the victim of graffiti.

Continue northeast into the:

5. Largo das Portas do Sol
On this square stands the Fundação Ricardo do Espírito Santo Silva, a museum of decorative art.
Loved this tile mosaic depicting the city with boats in the fore ground and the city with the castle on top in the background.
A short but steep climb from Largo das Portas do Sol via Travessa de Santa Luzia brings you to:

6. Castelo de São Jorge
The remains of this once grand fortification have been gussied up for tourists, but it's still the reason most visitors trek through the Alfama. The views alone are worth the effort to reach it, as they offer the greatest panoramas over Lisbon and the Tagus.

We ended our day touring through the Castle.  We love climbing up and down spiral stair leading to tall towers.  We also enjoyed seeing the beautiful views over the city.
Liam had been sleeping through much of the touring and woke up right when we arrived at the castle.
Amelie and Liam loved walking with the Peacock family.
An old dried up fountain:  our form of babysitting so we could get a moments peace.
Entrance of the castle.  
Liam waving at people saying "hi-ya" as they went by.  We didn't have the heart to tell him that was the wrong language.  He has now learned obrigado (thank-you) and hola.
Tile in the ruins of the palace portion of the castle...dates back WAY far (can't remember).
Enjoying the pretty views on top of a tower.

Walking along the walls of the castle were fun (and scary with littles ones too).  I held Liam for a good portion of it.
We walked back down the way we came to the Praca do Comercio and then to the train and then back to our apartment.
For the walking tour on it's own visit

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