Sunday 11 May 2014

Baixa de Lisboa

The Baixa is downtown Lisbon. It literally means 'low', which you understand properly when you're down there looking up - in this view, to the castle that  has watched over the city, guarding and protecting it, since the 11th century.

Castelo São Jorge viewed from the Baixa near Rossio

If the thought of walking up these hills is exhausting, there's a crazy elevator at hand to crank  you up to higher levels

Elevador Santa Justa

Walkway of Santa Justa elevator over Rua do Carmo

When I was here last month I'd recently read David Leavitt's The Two Hotel Francforts (here), set in 1940s Lisbon, in which the Santa Justa elevator features memorably, as well as Rossio square, with its fountain and wavy cobblestones, pictured on the cover ...

So although I've walked through this square a thousand times, I was imagining it now in the early months of the war, filled with wealthy refugees waiting for safe passage on ships out of Europe from Lisbon's harbour.

and although the sun came out brightly for a bit while I had a coffee here at Café Nicola, it was fun to play with retro effects on my pictures afterwards. Lisbon is the sort of city that can make you see in sepia and faded colours.

Rossio station's fabulous façade

Dom Pedro was looking lonely up on his column, and I let the seagulls lead me down towards the river, to Praça do Comércio

where once upon a time a giant royal palace had stood, complete with lavish cathedral and opera house, built on the river bank by Portuguese kings flush with gold from Brazil ...
 all destroyed by a massive earthquake and tsunami in 1755 which took almost all of the Baixa, downtown Lisbon, with it. Sic transit, etc.

A pair of inscribed stone beacons remains to mark the spot where the the kings' ships laden with treasures would have moored - now a lonely but photogenic, in the mist, spot.

For a moment I thought the suspension bridge that crosses the Tagus a little way down from here had unbelievably disappeared, but it gradually revealed itself in the mist.

It was chilly, and time to head back up one of those vertiginous hills in search of food ...


  1. Now you make me want to go to Lisbon - though it was obviously very cool when you were there!

  2. Karen, I share Elizabeth's reaction to seeing your beautiful photographs of atmospheric Lisbon. What history these hills and harbor have seen. xo

  3. Eu sou de Lisboa e nunca tinha reparado nas inscrições nas colunas do Terreiro do Paço...
    Como sempre, achei lindas as fotografias.

  4. Muito obrigada pelo comentário - estou contente que goste o meu blog!


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