I covered Lisbon in a post a couple weeks ago, specifically its Alfama neighborhood. Today, the rest of this city gets a spotlight.
I joke that I like to travel so as to get lost in foreign cities. Though I’m not actually trying to get lost, I do like to simply wander around, poking my head into whatever alley or building catches my attention. The unique comination of strolling for hours while maintaining the heightened awareness that comes with being abroad on your own is a great form of active meditation. It’s also something of a coping mechanism. I am keenly aware that there is no possible way that I, as a tourist in country for a week or so, can possibly find all the things I’d like to photograph, and do it in the best weather and light. So I try to make up for it by pounding the pavement. I may not see everything, but I will wear out my shoes trying.
My first stop in Lisbon was Oriente station, as I was spending the first couple days of my trip in Porto and was catching a train here. Its steel and glass canopy makes for a light and airy platform for waiting passengers, while the brutalist concrete station underneath houses sundry offices and services.
Lisbon is known for its old street cars. It also has a graffitied-to-hell funicular which I enjoyed very much.
A turning point in Lisbon’s histroy was the horrendous earthquake of 1755. It’s hard to overstate just how traumatic this event was; the fact that one of Europe’s largest cities at the time, and the capital of a mighty Christian empire, could be so devastated was incomprehensible to many. The Portuguese king would never sleep indoors again in his life, much of the city would be rebuilt in the Pombaline style it is famous for today, and a decision was made to keep the Carmo Convent in its ruined condition as a reminder of the trauma the city had suffered.
When I visited, I liked the skeletal nave rising into the sky, but my favorite shot came when I realized that the sun was lining up with a southern window just in time for high noon.
Here is the broad, tree-lined Avenida da Liberdade. I wasn’t interested in the ritzy shops that line this boulevard, but its sidewalks are admittedly gorgeous.
Other views from around Lisbon, in no particular order
Finally, this little oddball nugget. Lisbon has a prominent, forested hill on its west end. A round blob of green space roughly a mile in diameter, it contains many parks, a national forest, and even a hiltop prison. Most interesting to me was the abandoned, flying saucer shaped restaurant high up on the hillside. I decided this would be a fun visit, so I took an Uber there one late afternoon.
I was first surprised at how busy it was. I wasn’t surprised to find others there, I mean, I had found it online myself. But there were a lot of people here, including couples on apparent dates, and at least on family with kids. My surprises had just begun, though. I had been there only five or ten minutes and was setting up a shot when I heard someone speaking angrily behind me. It took a while before I realized they were speaking to me, and telling me that tripods were forbidden. The guy was a guard!
I still don’t know what exactly this place was. I found it was full of art in the form of graffiti as well as stained glass and other mediums. But it was still legit an abandoned restaurant. The best information I’ve been able to find suggests that, once abandoned, it became a magnet for urban explorers and artists as well as a white elephant for the city. As time went by and it acquired more of a cult status, the city decided that it might as well clean and secure the building and provide some security. Its currently half abandoned, half municipally run status is something we would rarely see here in the States.