We’re often asked whether you can see Lisbon in a day or two. Sure, you can drink an espresso at Brasileira, take a brisk walk through Rossio and Terreiro do Paço, climb to Alfama to tour the castle, and rush right back down to go to Belém. Once there, you can try the famous Pasteis de Belém and go for a quick visit of the Jerónimos monastery and the Belém tower.
You’ll have seen a lot, but you will not know Lisbon. The city doesn’t reveal itself on a one night stand. To understand Lisbon, you must take the time to walk around and discover its many hidden gems.
One of these gems is Viúva Lamego, a store that has sold handmade tiles and ceramics since 1849. The blue-tiled back of the building faces the bustling Avenida Almirante Reis. If you walk around in search of the main entrance, you’ll be rewarded with the sight of one of the most exuberant facades in Lisbon.
There are many other jewels to discover in Lisbon: beautiful gardens, graceful architecture, quaint shops, enticing vistas, and wonderful neighborhood restaurants.
Those who discover some of these treasures get hooked and as soon as they depart, they start planning to come back.
The Viúva Lamego building is located on Largo do Intendente Pina Manique, 25.
The Grão Vasco museum in Viseu houses an exquisite collection of wood statues from the 18th century. The names of the sculptors who created these pieces have long been lost. What remains is the mastery with which they used their mallets and chisels to breathe life into wood.
The Grão Vasco museum is located at Adro Sé in Viseu, tel 232 422 049.
If you visit Crato, a beautiful village in Alentejo, don’t miss the chance to see the wonderful collection of Madonas housed in the Flor da Rosa Pousada.
The statues were carved in limestone, gilded and painted in Portuguese workshops during the 15th and 16th century. We can tell that the images were not drawn from the artists’ imagination because the faces are unmistakably Portuguese. How did the artists choose the women who inspired these sculptures? Perhaps they saw in their humanity a glimpse of the divine.
The Crato castle was converted into a beautiful historical hotel called Flor da Rosa, which is part of the Pousadas network. Click here for the Pousadas’ website and here for photos of the castle.
If you’re an art lover, make sure to visit Ratton, a wonderful art gallery in Lisbon that commissions works in azulejo (the Portuguese word for glazed tiles) from contemporary artists.
When Ana Viegas opened the gallery in 1987, tiles were no longer considered an art medium; they were made cheaply for utilitarian purposes. To convince artists to create works for azulejo, Viegas procured the finest clay and searched for artisans who could paint and glaze tiles by hand, using techniques perfected in the 18th century. Soon, she had great artists like Paula Rego, Julio Pomar, and Menez working for Ratton. Today, you can see the gallery’s azulejos all over Portugal and as far away as Russia or Brazil.
The photo shows a piece by Lourdes de Castro inspired by the “invitations figures” that were popular in the 18th and 19th centuries. These panels of azulejos with life-size images of footmen, nobleman and aristocratic women were placed in stairs and patios to welcome visitors. Castro used her own silhouette, as if she is inviting us to experience her art.
It is this interplay between inspiration from past and present that makes the work exhibited at Ratton so unique.
Ratton is located on Rua da Academia das Ciências, 2C, tel. 21 346 0948.