With the recent opening of the Royal Treasury Museum, Lisbon is positioned as one of the best European cities to see art and experience its culture through its streets, music and historical monuments declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.
Lisbon is a vibrant city adorned in colorful architecture with stunning tile art covering the facades of the buildings along with mesmerizing undulating designs on the ground made using limestone cubes shaped and placed by hand by skillful craftsmen. These features endow the city with a charming atmosphere and attracts visitors from all over the world.
Some of Lisbon’s notable 10 places of interest to enjoy art, history and culture include:
Mosteiro dos Jerónimos and Torre de Belém are the most visited places in Lisbon. Declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1983, they were built at the initiative of King Manuel I, whose reign lasted between 1495 and 1521 and are the most representative monuments of the Age of the Discoveries in Portugal.
To immortalize the memory of Infante D. Henrique, nicknamed the ‘Navigator’, and his devotion for St. Maria de Belém and faith in St. Jerónimo; King Manuel I ordered the building of a monastery on the site of “Ermida do Restelo”, a hermitage founded by Infante D. Henrique, the Navigator, and in which the explorer Vasco de Gama and his men spent the night in prayer before leaving for India.
Donated to the monks of the Order of St. Jerónimo, the monastery is considered one of the most beautiful of its kind in the world. Late-Gothic in style, it is one of the best examples of the Manueline style in Lisbon. A pantheon of the Avis-Beja Dynasty, in the 19th century, the church became the sepulchre for heroes and poets: such as Vasco da Gama and Luís de Camões.
The imposing Torre de Bélem is an ancient military construction that was of great importance in the Age of Discoveries as it served as a fortress and port from which Portuguese explorers departed. This work of extraordinary beauty was also used as a prison, as a lighthouse and as a tax collection center to enter the city. It is undoubtedly the most photographed place in Lisbon and a must-see in the city and it was also declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1983.
These means of transportation are part of the culture and identity of Lisbon. The most famous streetcar in the city is the yellow Tram 28. The exciting adventure of Tram 28 conquers passengers with its winding paths and original route through narrow streets, connecting the main historical and tourist neigborhoods such as Baixa, Alfama, Bairro Alto and Graça.
Another of the city's great attractions is the Elevator of Santa Justa. Located at La Baixa, it is a huge iron structure inspired by the techniques already applied in other French constructions, such as the Eiffel Tower. Neo-Gothic in style, its interior is clad in wood. Visitors ascend to a terrace with breathtaking views of the River Tejo and Baixa, Rossio Square, Praça do Comércio and Castelo de São Jorge.
The real Lisbon culture is experienced by walking through its different neighborhoods such as Alfama, Chiado, and Baixa, all with a unique personality that characterizes them. Known for being the cradle of Fado (Lisbon´s traditional music), Alfama is one of the most charming neighborhoods in Lisbon. Located between the River Tejo and Castelo de São Jorge, this traditional neighborhood retains all its essence because it was one of the districts least affected by the 1755 earthquake.
Between narrow alleys, clothes drying in the sun and neighbors talking from window to window, in Alfama time seems to stand still. It is an ideal neighborhood to stroll aimlessly, photograph Lisbon's famous cathedral and walk through the Arch of Jesus of Alfama, Lisbon's best kept secret, a tunnel full of tiles that will leave you amazed.
Located in the lower part of Lisbon, Chiado is known for being a neighborhood of artists. A visit to Chiado is ideal for those who like to walk leisurely and admire statues and monuments dedicated to writers of the time. Chiado is also home of the oldest bookstore in the world: Bertrand Bookstore. Near Chiado a must visit place is Convento do Carmo, previously standing as one of the largest churches in Lisbon dating back to the 14th century.
Baixa is the most elegant district of Lisbon and the symbol of its rebirth as a capital after the earthquake of 1755. The reconstruction, ordered by the Marquês de Pombal, was so radical and glorious that it turned the Baixa Pombalina into one of the centers of life in Lisbon.
The Baixa dazzles with its large spaces, pedestrian streets and palaces.
The emblematic Praça do Comércio, also known Terreiro do Paço, is a huge square space characterized by neoclassical symmetries, enclosed on three sides by arcades and stately palaces.
Arco Augusta, on the north side of the square, offers an unmissable panoramic view of the city. Another famous square is Rossio Square, a perfect place to be mesmerised by the undulating shapes of the paved ground.
Known for its spectacular sunsets over the River Tejo and located on top of a hill in the Alfama district, the Castelo de São Jorge, is one of the most visited places in Lisbon. Built in the mid-11th century, this fortification preserves eleven towers and features serene gardens for visitors to admire. It features a permanent exhibition of archaeological objects that covers 2,000 years of history, especially in the period of occupation by the Moors between the 11th and 12th centuries.
Opened to the public in June 2022, The Royal Treasure Museum is located in the Palácio Nacional da Ajuda. It exhibits for the first time a permanent display of the Crown jewels and pieces of Portuguese royal goldsmithery. The new cultural equipment (a collection of more than one thousand pieces) aims to project Lisbon as an increasingly attractive destination for residents and tourists.
The National Tile Museum is located in the Madre de Deus convent, a beautiful Manueline-style building. Its tile collections allow visitors to take a journey through the history of tile, from the 15th century to present day.
The tile, made and painted by hand, is internationally recognized as a notable artistic expression that differentiates Portuguese culture.
One of the most outstanding samples is the tile collection that represents the city of Lisbon before and after the great earthquake of 1755.
The Calouste Gulbenkian Museum houses a wide variety of Egyptian, Mesopotamian and Persian objects, as well as paintings by European artists such as Rembrandt, Renoir or Rubens.
The Calouste Sarkis Gulbenkian Collection is one of the most important private collections in the world, which makes the Museum one of the most renowned in Portugal.
For more information, ideas and inspiration on visiting Lisbon, please go to www.visitlisboa.com