Lisbon Impressions

What makes a city a great place to visit?  That’s fun to think about.  A great city oozes history, presents art both formally and informally, and is blessed with eye-catching and interesting architecture.  A great city stimulates the senses whether with color, design, smell, sounds, and tastes.  A great city has a vibrant and dynamic feel and spirit when you are in the public spaces out among its people.  A great city is arranged to enable fluid movement whether by transit or on foot.  A great city has a flow about it that sets it apart from other places and times.

Lisbon is a great place to visit. (Lisbon impressions)

location in Europe


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golden hour


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Rolling across seven prominent hills, Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in Europe dating its origin back to the fifth century. (pre-Roman times

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Catching my breath part way up a hill or some steps by stopping to take a picture was a frequent activity



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Lisbon Impressions

Author Rebecca Solnit is an American writer who I enjoy reading.  She addresses a variety of subjects, including the environment, politics, place, and art.  Rebecca and others have some great observations about cities and public spaces — I’ll pepper a few of these throughout this article.

“In great cities, spaces as well as places are designed and built: walking, witnessing, being in public, are as much part of the design and purpose as is being inside to eat, sleep, make shoes or love or music. The word citizen has to do with cities, and the ideal city is organized around citizenship — around participation in public life.”
― Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking

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Beautiful facades of colorful ceramic tile were plentiful.

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Pretty church in a quiet, residential neighborhood

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Public spaces and places within public view benefit from a broad array of fountains, parks, monuments, and art (both formal and informal).

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Street musicians

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I went by this park almost daily and it was always well used by senior citizens getting a workout ….

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…. or passing the time together in other ways


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Younger people tended to be seen hanging out in less traditional spaces.


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Younger people tended to be seen hanging out in less traditional spaces.

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“There is no mysterious essence we can call a ‘place’. Place is change. It is motion killed by the mind, and preserved in the amber of memory.”
— J.A. Baker

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The city center is a bustling place full of pedestrian life. There are plenty of tourist-types, but I wouldn’t say that they dominate the crowd.


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An elegant storefront

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A busker at work

“Sense of place is the sixth sense, an internal compass and map made by memory and spatial perception together.”
— Rebecca Solnit

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Augusta Street approaching the Plaza del Comércio


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Lisbon is a dangerous place if you like to snack on fresh baked goods.

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A snack with cafe con leite — (a cafe misto in Starbucks speak). Cafe life is alive and well in Lisbon.


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This street vendor was roasting and selling chestnuts.

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Not every street is bustling — plenty of spots for quiet relaxation


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Let your imagination run …

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A shot of Ginja in a chocolate cup is a nice afternoon treat. These can be found from street purveyors in Bairrio Alto. Also called Ginginja, this liquer is made from sour cherries (ginha) and is about 40 proof.

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Street market goods …


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One of many “fantastic” kiosks that can be found throughout the city.

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“The magic of the street is the mingling of the errand and the epiphany.”
― Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking

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Lisbon impressed me as a young place and a diverse place

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Rua Augusta Arch at Lisbon’s Plaza del Comércio — The statue is of King José I. This is a huge plaza open on one side to a view of the Tagus River

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“What strange phenomena we find in a great city, all we need do is stroll about with our eyes open. Life swarms with innocent monsters.”
― Charles Baudelaire

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These kids were having a great afternoon running and jumping on some giant letters in the Plaza del Comércio

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MAAT is one of Lisbon’s impressive museums: The Museum of Art, Architecture, and Technology

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“Cities have always offered anonymity, variety, and conjunction, qualities best basked in by walking: one does not have to go into the bakery or the fortune-teller’s, only to know that one might. A city always contains more than any inhabitant can know, and a great city always makes the unknown and the possible spurs to the imagination.”
― Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking

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There are a variety of transit options that mesh well with walking.  Electric trams are both photogenic and will get you up some pretty major hills.  The subway system and bus system are easy to navigate for longer hauls.

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One of many tuk tuks that serve the more touristed areas Tuk tuks are kind of motorcycles with a passenger cabin


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Subway stations can be pretty eye catching and elaborate.

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busker on a subway ride

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This tram just goes up and down a hill so is permanently leveled.

“You know what a sense of place is?  It’s when the place you’re in feels like home. Where you’re at peace.”
— N.R. Walker

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