Hvad skal man se i Lissabon

The 10 most important sights in Lisbon

10 sights, monuments, and things to experience in & around Lisbon

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Lisbon, Portugal
Kasper Christiansen
Text & photos: Kasper Christiansen
23rd of April 2020

In recent years, Lisbon has become one of the most popular destinations in Europe. Lisbon has a great location on the Atlantic Ocean and a wealth of offers for the visitor. Among the many sights we recommend are the Jerónimo Monastery in the Belem neighbourhood (where Vasco da Gama is buried), the San Jorge Castle in downtown and the MAAT Museum by the Tajo river.

We also recommend taking one or more excursions from the city if you have the time. Within just 30-40 minutes’ drive, you will find the charming port city of Cascais, Europe's westernmost point Cabo da Roca and the historic city of Sintra.

Jerónimos-klosteret Santa Maria de Belém

1. The Jerónimos-monastery in Santa Maria de Belém

The Jerónimos Monastery (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos) dedicated to Santa Maria de Belem is a former monastery in Belem neighbourhood in Lisbon, founded in 1501 by King Manuel I of Portugal. The building is made in the Manueline style, a late gothic style found in Portugal that blends architecture and decoration from the mudéjar and plataresque styles as well as Flemish and Italian architecture.

The facade measures more than 300 meters in length. The chapels of the church were built in the Renaissance style in the second half of the sixteenth century. In the mausoleum held by elephants, Manuel I and his family are buried, along with a number of Portugal's later kings. The Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama is also buried in the church.

2. The Alfama neighbourhood

In the Alfama neighborhood, Lisbon's oldest, you can find fado houses and a wide variety of restaurants and sights. In this neighbourhood you will find some of Lisbon's finest viewpoints, among them the beautiful Portas do Sol. At the same time, several of the city's most famous monuments are in this district: including the cathedral, a number of historic alleys that wind through Lisbon and a myriad of good eateries.

the Alfama-quarter in Lisbon
One of the many viewpoints in the Alfama-quarter in Lisbon

3. São Jorge Castle (Castelo de São Jorge)

San Jorge Castle is Lisbon's oldest building - the history of the castle dates to the 8th century BC. The construction of the castle and the fort began in the 1st century BC and expanded over the next centuries. Both the Phoenicians, Romans and Moors conquered the fort for various periods and later served as royal palace for the kings of Portugal. The building is today a national monument and museum.

The São Jorge Castle
The São Jorge Castle

4. The Belem Tower & the Monument to the Explorers (Padrão dos Descobrimentos)

The Belem Tower dates back to the 16th century and was built by Francisco de Arruda and Diogo de Boitaca. Originally, the tower was erected to guard the gangway from the Tajo River, but has also been used for prison, lighthouse and tax collection in later periods.

In the Belém neighbourhood you will find a number of other interesting buildings: Castillo de San Jorge, the Cathedral of Lisbon and the Carmo Monastery.

A stone's throw from the Belem Tower you will find the Monument to the explorers, erected in 1940 in honour of the many important Portuguese explorers. The monument is erected to mark the 300th anniversary of the country's independence from Spain (after the War of Independence in 1640).

Monument to the Explorers
The monument to the Explorers

5. The cathedral Santa Maria Maior

Santa Maria Maior de Lisboa is the city's cathedral. The church is Romanesque-Gothic and it is located in Lisbon's Alfama neighbourhood. Construction was begun in 1147 in the Romanesque style, and several other elements were added over the next centuries, first in the Romanesque later in Gothic style. Saint Vincent of Saragossa, the patron saint of Lisbon, is buried in the church. In the context of the great earthquake in Lisbon in 1755, several parts of the church were destroyed, and would only be rebuilt in the early 20th century.

The cathedral Santa Maria Maior
The cathedral Santa Maria Maior
Train station in Lisbon, Calatrava
Train station Estação do Oriente in Lisbon designed by Santiago Calatrava

6. The Maat Museum & other moderne architecture

MAAT is an abbreviation for the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology. The museum was built by the EDP Fund (EDP is Energias de Portugal's Art Fund) in 2016 for approximately 20 million €. The museum overlooks the 25th of April bridge - the bridge is named after the Carnation Revolution (Revolução dos Cravos), the military-led revolution that began on April 25th in 1974 and led to the fall of the dictatorship. The Elsa storm made part of the roof collapse in 2019, but it has since been repaired.

 

MAAT - Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology
MAAT - Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology

In the area around the Aquarium of Lisbon there are several other exciting modern buildings. Apart from the aquarium itself, the most interesting work is arguably Santiago Calatrava's Estação do Oriente Train Station from the 1998 World Exhibition (see the picture above)

7. The aquarium of Lisbon

Lisbon's impressive aquarium, Oceanario de Lisboa, is the biggest in Europe. It is in the Parque das Nações (National Park) where the World Expo 1998 exhibition was held. The aquarium was designed by architect Peter Chermayeff, who was also behind Osaka's aquarium. One of the main attractions is a tank of 1000 m2 with 5,000,000 litters of water, exhibiting about 100 different species of sea animals from around the world.

The Aquarium of Lisbon
The Aquarium of Lisbon
Jerónimos-klosteret Santa Maria de Belém

What to see outside Lisbon


8. Cabo da Roca

Cabo da Roca is Europe's westernmost location, offering stunning scenery and a viewpoint to the Atlantic Ocean from high above. The rocky landscape invites you to walk along the coast and enjoy the dramatic landscape and viewpoints. Start the visit by the old lighthouse. The tour to Cabo da Roca is one of our most popular excursions from Lisbon and can be combines with either Sintra or Cascais.

9. Sintra

Sintra is about half an hour's drive from Lisbon and is one of the most popular destinations for an excursion from Portugal's capital. Sintra is both a city and a monumental area with numerous museums, historic buildings, churches, gardens, and beautiful nature. Among the most important buildings are Castelo dos Mouros (Castle of the Moors) and the castle of the Pena National Palace, the estate of Monserrate and the mansion of Quinta da Regaleira.

Sintra
Sintra is around a 45 minutes’ drive west of Lisbon

10. Cascais

The charming port city of Cascais is just a 30-minute drive from Lisbon. Here you will find both a lovely beach, excellent restaurants and a cosy historic center. An excursion to Cascais can be combined with an excursion to either Cabo da Roca or Sintra. If you are staying in the city and are a group of minimum 8 people we can arrange private bus transport to Cascais.

The charming sea city of Cascais
The charming sea city of Cascais

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