Seven Hills: The Symbol of the Magic of Lisbon
Lisbon, the capital of Portugal and a historic city, has many a colorful legends about it. With its “fado” music, its colors and accent, its language expresses the friendliness of its inhabitants. Lisbon’s very foundation is shrouded in legend. It is said that Odysseus, the legendary hero of Greek mythology, arrived at the Tagus River when he had to flee from Troy, and he established a city there. A more realistic version is given by historians, who attribute the emergence of Lisbon to the Phoenicians, who called it Puerto Sereno (“Serene Port”). And they were right. In addition to the seven hills, which we will explore below, Lisbon is a unique port on the “Sea of Straw”, well known for its lights and setting sun that melt together and reflect over the sea.
The spell of “the seven hills of Lisbon”
Between successive colonizations, Lisbon was embellished by the Romans, who called it Olissipo, evoking the seven hills of Rome in this beautiful place. The truth is that these hills really do add to the appeal of Lisbon in all its splendor.
(Photo: Duncan Rawlinson Castelo de São Jorge)
La Colina de São Jorge o del Castillo, is where the Lisbon of today was born, and traces of the ancient Roman city have been found there. The Castillo de San Jorge or Castelo, overlooks the city and is emblematic of Lisbon.
(Photo: René Querin Afonso Henriques)
The interior of the castle is well preserved, and it is home to the statue of Alfonso Henriques, first king of Portugal. The districts of Castelo and Mouraria, and part of the Alfama district extend from this hill.
(Photo: Alessandro Grussu Santo André Hill)
The Graça district is located by Colina de Santo André (Santo Andre Hill), the highest hill and a traditional place of residence for the nobility. From the viewpoint of Graça you can enjoy the most fascinating sunsets Lisbon can offer. On this hill there is another viewpoint, that of Nossa Senhora do Monte, from which exceptional views can be found.
(Photo: Marta Vieira Pereira Mirador Santa Luzia)
Among the viewing points of Lisbon, Santa Luzia is one of the important ones, because it features a beautiful tiled decoration of the eighteenth century, typical elements of Portugal, a pergola and a very nice garden. At the site you can also visit a small church. This viewing point is located on the Colina (Hill) of São Vicente, and from there a splendid view of the Monastery of San Vicente and the Alfama district can be appreciated.
(Photo: Marcelo Braga Adamastor)
To reach the top of the hills there is a network of trams, supplemented with three cable cars and there is the Santa Justa lift, which also serves as a vantage point to see the heart of the city. This elevator is located in the area of Lago do Carmo, where the Colina de Chagas (“Chagas Hill”) stands. There is also the Rúa das Chagas, from which a network of streets and alleys full of history is woven. The poets Luis Vicente and Camões were inspired by these places and, later, so too were Pessoa and Eça de Queiroz. This hill was in its present form after the collapse of 1597, which separated it from the Hill of Santa Catarina, where the eponymous veranda, also known as Adamastor is located. It is the best place for watching the boats and the river, and it is a favorite of the people of Lisbon at times of relaxation. It is especially a favorite for young people, and the area offers great entertainment both day and night.
(Photo: Andrea Puggioni Mirador Sao Pedro Lisbon)
El Bairro Alto, presents an alternative image of Lisbon with its graffiti, clothes hanging out to dry and its very Bohemian bars, which are key places if you want to hear the best fado music in the city. It extends from the Hill of São Roque. Here is the viewpoint of São Pedro de Alcantara, from which you can enjoy magnificent views of Castelo, the “Sé” or Cathedral of Lisbon, the River Tagus and modern areas of the city.
The new Lisbon is distributed around the Marques de Pombal Square and the area of the Park of the Nations. From this viewpoint, the lively and central Baixa district can be seen, an area where most of the shopping and entertainment that the city offers is concentrated. Following on from the Bairro Alto is the Chiado, which has the same relaxed atmosphere but in a more elegant style. It is known as the "Montmartre" of Lisbon.
(Photo: Sérgio Duraes Catherine of Braganza)
Finally, Lisbon boasts the central incline of the Sant'Ana hill. The area, running from the Campo Martires da Pátria to the Praça da Figueira, and in which the viewpoint of the Garden of Torel is located, is a distinguished place, and is surrounded by several palaces, including that which was occupied by Catherine of Braganza in the seventeenth century.
Enigmatic, multicultural and colorful, Lisbon is a seductive city, which with its unique beauty, irresistibly draws countless tourists to its streets. In Lisbon there is always something to do, to enjoy, and to discover, from savoring a “pastel de Belém” to ascending to the viewpoints, from visiting its monuments and museums, or seeing what you can find in the Bairro Alto. Fortunately, the accommodation in Lisbon is amongst the most affordable in Europe. Staying there is synonymous with integration into city life, unravelling its mysteries and discovering its essence, through its daily dynamics, its gastronomy and the culture that emerges in the different neighborhoods.
Featured image (Photo: Paulo Sande Lisbon)