On my first day in Lisbon, I decided to visit the historic district of Alfama, which is the oldest part of the city. The picture above was taken from the terrace of the National Patheon (more about that later). Alfama consists of narrow streets and are mostly steep. There is a popular tram that tourists take to go to the top part of the city, but I preferred to walk, as the trams were too crowded. Besides, it’s better to experience the city by simply walking. It’s hard to get lost because all you need to do is keep an eye out for the river and you can find your way back. This is not a place to visit if you have limited mobility. I saw a few of the older residents negotiating the streets with canes and I admired their resilience.
The National Pantheon is actually the Church of Santa Engracia. Given the lack of seating, I don’t think it functions as a church.
The Pantheon is the final resting place of a number of famous Portuguese figures, as shown below:
The Pantheon has an impressive organ, built in the 18th Century by Joaquim Peres Fontana. I saw advertisements for a number of concerts held in the Pantheon; hearing that organ would be a rare treat.
You can climb up several stairs to the various levels of the Pantheon, called Choir 1, 2, and 3. These choir areas provide a splendid view of the inside of the Pantheon.
The Pantheon has a large outdoor terrace that provides you with an excellent view of Alfame. The terrace surrounds the Dome, which is closed to the public. I didn’t mean to capture the two women below in the photograph, but I hope they won’t mind.
After all that climbing, I needed a treat, so I had a vegan ice cream from one of the local gelaterias. I’ve noticed that many restaurants in Alfame offered vegan options. Fortunately, it was overcast today and on the cooler side at 24 degrees, so walking was comfortable.
The Fado Museum was next on my list. I was treated to a Fado performance by some University of Porto students at the conference, so I was very interested to learn more about this musical form. The museum features a beautiful collection of Portuguese guitars, as well as late 19th and early 20th-century music boxes and phonographs.
The Baixa district tomorrow.