With its castles, cathedrals and monasteries, Lisbon is undeniably a centre of historic significance and beauty. Yet, with over 500,000 residents and influences from all over Europe, Portugal’s capital city is also a hub for modern day business and entertainment, offering plenty of activities and attractions for visitors young and old.
If you’ve ever wondered what a 2,700-year-old alabaster bowl or 15th
century sculpture looks like up close, head to the famed Calouste Gulbenkian Museum. The permanent collection includes Egyptian, Greco-Roman, Eastern Islamic, Mesopotamian and French artwork, as well as jewels and glass by René Lalique. In 2010, the museum was praised for its exhibit of still-life paintings, and it plans to follow up with In the Presence of Things. Four Centuries of European Still-Life Painting Part Two: 1840 – 1955
from October 2011 through January 2012. There’s even something for music lovers in the Gulbenkian Museum – Sunday concerts feature the music of classical greats. For exhibition and concert schedules, as well as visiting hours and admission, visit www.museu.gulbenkian.pt.
Named one of the “21 Coolest Hotels in the World” by Conde Nast Traveller and the setting for multiple films, Palacio Belmonte is a getaway unlike any other. Originally built in 1449 and expanded in 1640, the palace boasts elegant old-world charm with views of some of Portugal’s most treasured landmarks. Book the Fernao Magalhaes Suite, named after the famous explorer, a two-level duplex suite that features a marble bathroom. For a million-dollar glimpse of the city, the Padre Himalaya Suite offers a 360-degree view from the top-level room. In the bedroom, a 17th century Portuguese table and birdcage add the perfect touch to this historic hideout. One look at the photos at www.palaciobelmonte.com and you won’t want to stay anywhere else in Lisbon.
When you’re surrounded by the carved wood and beautiful artwork of Alcântara Café, it’s hard to believe that the restaurant is located on the former site of a factory and warehouse. Nonetheless, both the ambiance and menu are fully first-class. Ranked number two on Italian GQ’s list of “100 Top Restaurants of the World,” Alcântara Café puts its own delicious spin on classics like Steak Tartare and Lacquered Duck. For the ultimate Lisbon experience, ask about the Portuguese platter of the day. Get a sneak peek at www.alcantaracafe.com and be sure to call ahead for a reservation.
Getting around is a breeze in Lisbon on the reliable metro train system. You may not feel as though you’re underground, however, thanks to the paintings and sculptures used to decorate the stations. The weather is another one of Lisbon’s most pleasant features; although July and August can be hot, the remaining months are often very mild. Portuguese is the official language, but many Spanish-speakers find they can get around with ease. Many residents of Lisbon, especially younger individuals, may speak English as well. The Euro is the official currency and major credit cards, especially Visa and MasterCard, are widely accepted. Start planning an unforgettable Lisbon trip today at www.visitportugal.com.