If you are visiting Lisbon put some time aside to visit the Castelo de São Jorge and explore the neighbouring bairros of Alfama, Graça and São Vicente. These are Lisbon’s oldest neighbourhoods and sit on Lisbon’s tallest hill. Lisbon is built on seven hills and there are impressive views all over the city. One of the best, which features in every guidebook, is from the Castelo de São Jorge, however continue into the bairro of Graça and you will leave the crowds behind and find a number of other breathtaking viewpoints. In fact many locals considered O Miradouro Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen (which the locals call O Miradouro da Graça) and O Miradouro da Senhora do Monte to have the finest views in the whole city.
Graça still retains its residential feel despite its close proximity to the castle, Lisbon’s main tourist sight. The area is full of history and it has many of the old villas and palaces that were built by Lisbon’s aristocracy when Portugal was one of Europe’s most powerful nations. The excellent Portuguese blog post by Carlos Fontes describes the bairro in-depth and suggests a walking route that passes some of Graça’s most interesting buildings, churches and squares; click here to read more.
The neighbourhood centres around Lago da Graça and Lisbon’s oldest church, the Igreja and Convento da Graça. The church was built-in 1271 but collapsed after the 1755 earthquake and was rebuilt in a baroque style. It has an impressive interior, with 16th and 17th century tiles and numerous altars’ dedicated to the different saints which were important to the city and its population at the time. There is also a beautiful 18th century section dedicated to Senhor dos Passos da Graça, which should not be missed. Outside is a lovely garden and a terrace with a small cafe which offers yet another view across the city. From here it is a pleasant walk down towards bairro Baixa and the sea, passing through the bairros of São Vicente and Alfama. Alternatively catch the famous Tram number 28 from Lago da Graça; a ride of this old style tram is an absolute must when you stay in Lisbon and the blog LisbonLux has an excellent post about the Tram and its route, click here to read more.
If you are visiting Graça you certainly will not go hungry or thirsty; its pretty cobble streets are lined with tempting cafes, independent restaurants and neighbourhood shops. Below are some places we enjoyed, if you have some suggestions you would like to share, please add them using the comments section.
O Botequim de Graça this bar is something of an institution. It was originally owned by the famous Portuguese writer, Natália Correia, and became a gathering place for artists and intellectuals in the 70s and 80s. The bar is located in the blue tiled building, Villa Souza, on Largo Graça, not far from the O Miradouro Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen. For more information click here: https://botequim.net/
Via Graca is on Rua Damasceno Monteiro, this restaurant has lovely terrace and views. The menu is modern Portuguese and it has some excellent vegetarian options, which is not always the case in Portugal. For more information visit: http://www.restauranteviagraca.com/
Cafe do Monte, Rua de São Gens, Senhora da Graça – a small local cafe and bar; with great food and that magical mix of traditional old Portuguese style with a touch of modern cool.
Gelateria Miraggio (Ice-cream parlour) on Tv. do Monte which, I am told, is often listed as one of the top 10 Ice-cream parlours in Lisbon.
For more things to do in Lisbon visit our post on Lisbon and for the ultimate insiders guide on Lisbon check out Carlos Fontes 365 things to do in Lisbon: http://www.filorbis.pt/lisboa/page301Programas.html This is a must do list from a Lisonite with a passion for his city and its history.
Photography and Credits: All photography in this post is the property of LisbonLux. LisbonLux have generously given their permission to Site of Special Things to use their images. LisbonLux is an independent blog and one of the best independent sources of information about Lisbon. For more information visit their site: www.lisbonlux.com