Portugal- 4/13- 4/20/2016

Castelo de Sao Jorge

Visit continuation

Baixa historic downtown

Sr. Fado de Alfama

Lisbon-Baixa historic downtown

Igreja de São Domingos-4/16/201

Built in the thirteenth century, Igreja São Domingos, (Church of St. Domingo), was once the largest and most important church in Lisbon. It is here that all the major religious ceremonies were held, including state funerals, royal weddings and christenings. It is classified as a National Monument.

The first earthquake in 1531 damaged the church but it was restored and survived another two centuries.  In 1755 a catastrophic earthquake destroyed not only the church, but the city of Lisbon. An important architect of the time was enlisted to reconstruct the church. A spectacular gilded altar was commissioned and priceless artwork and tapestries soon adorned the walls. Restored to its former glory, the church was in its heyday of wealth and prestige.

In 1959, another two centuries later, the church went up in flames. The fire took the lives of firefighters and gutted the church, destroying its most prized possessions (paintings and statues)

Igreja de São Domingo didn’t open again until 1994. The ceiling was painted, a sort of odd terra cotta color, and a few new statues were brought in, but the scars of the fire were left largely untouched.

The facade of the church



The entrance of the church


As soon as you walked in the church, I definitely was not expected to see a cavernous sanctuary ravaged by fire with charred pillars, and scorched walls.

I have never seen a church in this condition in my entire life so I am a bit shocked.

It is still a very busy church, open from 7:30AM to 7:00PM, and apparently a lot of people still come here to attend mass and prey.


The high altar, with red marble columns supporting the sculptural composition of the Holy Trinity used to be the sacristy, which for many years held the remains of King Afonso III, until they were moved to Alcobaça.


The black soot on the walls and the charred stonework recalls the horrible fire of 1959.


Our Lady of Fatima is Portugal's most popular saint and her chapel inside the church, located of the left rear of the church, received the most lid candles. 

She is accompanied by two of the three children who saw the miraculous apparition (the third child was still alive when this chapel was made so it is not shown in heaven with the saint).

You can see more details on my Fatima page.

You can see all the candles that are lit for her.


Still raining quite a bit but we are determine to keep walking and see downtown


A walk in the Baixa district

Rossio station

The Rossio Railway Station (Estação de Caminhos de Ferro do Rossio) is a railway station located in the Rossio square.

The Neo-Manueline façade dominates the northwest side of the square and is a Romantic recreation of the exuberant Manueline style, typical of early 16th century Portugal. Its most interesting features are the two intertwined horseshoe portals at the entrance, the clock in a small turret and the abundant sculptural decoration.


Statue of King Sebastian of Portugal on the façade of the station. The statue was accidentally destroyed in May 2016 right after we came back from our trip.  At least we were lucky to see it as it was meant to be.

A stupid tourist climb up to the statue to take a selfie and the 126 years old statue just crashed to the ground.  It just show how stupid people can be.
You can click on the LINK to read the story.

On the right side of the Rossio Station you can see Statues of fado artists in front of the souvenir shop.

Praça da Figueira - (fig tree Square)

Praça da Figueira is located in Lisbon's historic downtown, Baixa district.

This was the site of a huge hospital destroyed in the earthquake.  With no money to replace the hospital, the space was left open until the late 1880's, when it was filled with a big iron-famed market (similar to Barcelona's La Boqueria).  That structure was torn down decades ago, leaving the square you see today. 

In 1971 a bronze equestrian statue representing King John I (1357-1433), was inaugurated in the square. The monument also carries medallions with the effigies of Nuno Álvares Pereira and João das Regras, two key characters in the 1385 Revolution that brought John I to power.

In 1999-2000, during the last renovation of the square, the statue was relocated from the middle to a corner of the square, in order to make it visible from the Praça do Comércio.

Equestrian statue of King John I in the Praça da Figueira


Since the rain did not stop and we are getting wet we decide to take a refuge at the Confeitaria Nacional, located just around the corner of the Praça da Figueira, for coffee/tea and some pastries.


Confeitaria Nacional shop holds on to its reputation as one of Lisbon's best cafés and pastry shop. It was the official confectioner of the royal family and has won international prizes in Vienna, Paris, and the United States.

Confeitaria Nacional is the oldest confectionary in downtown Lisbon. Founded in 1829 by Balthazar Roiz Castanheiro.

It's particularly famous for its Christmas cake ("Bolo Rei" or "King Cake"), a national tradition that started when the original owner brought a recipe from Paris in 1850.
At any other time of the year this is also a safe bet to try dozens of traditional Portuguese pastries.


As you enter the store you there is a huge counter with lots of pastries that you can buy to go or eat at the store.


You also have the choice to go upstairs and have a sit down meal with full service.


We opted to go upstairs and sit down and wait until the rain would stop.


The upstairs is beautiful and elegant with a nice wooden staircase leading to main dinning room.

The ceiling is also nicely decorated with a classic look

Nice little table for 2 in the corner and next to it, on top of wooden stand is what looks like an antique cash register.

We ordered a few Pasteis de Nata (Custard Tarts).



We stayed here for a while and the rain did die down ...



Bacalhau is the Portuguese word for cod and in a culinary context it refers to dried and salted cod. Fresh cod is referred to as bacalhau fresco (fresh cod).

Salted, dried cod, usually comes from Norway (bacalhau da Noruega), Iceland (bacalhau da Islândia) or Newfoundland (bacalhau da Terra Nova). It used to be very affordable, but with the collapse of the cod stocks and dismantling of Portuguese bacalhoeiro fleet, it became more expensive, especially near Easter and Christmas time, since it is a part of many traditional dishes of the holiday season in Portugal.

Salt cod has been produced for at least 500 years, since the time of the European discoveries of the New World. Before refrigeration, there was a need to preserve the cod; drying and salting are ancient techniques to preserve nutrients and the process makes the cod tastier.


The Portuguese tried to use this method of drying and salting on several varieties of fish from their waters, but the ideal fish came from much further north. With the "discovery" of Newfoundland in 1497. Bacalhau became a staple of the Portuguese cuisine, nicknamed Fiel amigo (loyal friend).



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