Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in the world and is best known for its historical architectures and relics, and the seamless blending of history and modern attractions. Lisbon tourist hotspots are plenty, but the number one spot belongs to the historic Castelo de São Jorge.
Castelo de São Jorge – Saint George’s Castle – is a beautiful hilltop Moorish castle. It has been existence since the medieval period and is still one of the most impressive places to visit if you can manage the steep trek uphill! It’s not for the faint-hearted but you will find many a tuk-tuk driver in Praça do Comércio or Rossio Square.
The walls of this historic marvel have seen everything – Visigoths from the 5th century, Moors of the 9th century, Christians in the 12th century, and Royals from 14th to 16th centuries. Though the castle is perched on a hill, the citadels of this site extend into the city covering large sections of the east and south sides.
The complex of this castle consists of ruins of the royal palace, a few ancillary buildings, gardens and a large square terrace which you can walk to through enchanting gardens on route. It re-lives its majestic history through the remnants of the Palace of Alcacova that once housed royalty. Also make sure to take in the beautiful panoramic view of the red-roofed city and river Tagus from the terrace.
A camera obscura present in the Tower of Ulysses offers a 360 degree view of Lisbon. There is a screening every 20 minutes. Get a glimpse of royal life by visiting the cafe and restaurant situated within the castle complex. Visit the Permanent Exhibition offering an insight into the history of Portugal through the objects that have been preserved and carefully picked from the archaeological site.
I always bring the guest here, if only for the walk up through the old part of town stopping at various tascas for a cheeky ginjinha or two. The view is by far the most impressive aspect of the castle experience, and the rest is really just incidental. The castle grounds are beautiful, but the castle itself is so knackered as to be near enough a ruin in parts. I scootered around the battlements a few times before heading back down into safer ground.
Ps. Do not attempt to play captcha the flag while under the influence of Ginjinha, it is high treason, you will be shot at!
Other Visitor Lisbon Tourist Attractions:
Apart from Castelo de São Jorge, there are a great many other Lisbon attractions. Some more of the best things to do in Lisbon are:
- Visit the Belém Tower, known as the Tower of St. Vincent, built in the 16th century. This is a UNESCO World Heritage site. In addition, visit the Jerónimos Monastery, which is another World Heritage Site.
- Lisbon is a land of museums as there are seven of them to explore. Visit the National Museum of Ancient Art, National Azulejo Museum, Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, National Museum of Costume and Fashion, Berardo Collection Museum, Electricity Museum, and National Coach Museum.
- Vist the Opera House or Teatro Nacional de Sao Carlos in Rossio that hosts cultural performances.
- Carmo Convent: The convent is now functions as the Carmo Archaeological Museum and a space for events. This museum houses treasure pieces from the entire scope of Portuguese history.