Urban Vignettes

Observations of Urban Life in the City



Nov '13 - Dec '18

  • anchor

    Lisbon, Where the Land Ends and the Sea Begins

    By bragabond
    Nov 20, '13 7:03 AM EST

    Lisbon, Where the Land Ends and the Sea Begins

    By Lennie Araujo.

    Sometimes nicknamed Rainha do Mar (Queen of the Sea), Lisbon is intrinsically connected to water. It lies in the western Iberian Peninsula on the Atlantic Ocean and Río Tejo (Tagus River).

    Its location on the river provided royalty with a grand entrance at Terreiro do Paço (Palace Square), which – adorned by a triumphal arch – became its main access and point of departure and arrival for sea-going vessels. [i]

    (Credit: Lennie Araujo)

    As Europe’s westernmost and only capital city along the Atlantic coast, references to water abound; Lisbon might have been named Allis Ubbo,[ii] Phoenician for “safe harbour“as its sheltered estuary was an ideal spot for a settlement and provided a secure port for provisioning of Phoenician ships, and as the city was also an important centre of commercial trade.

    Belém, home to the presidential palace, monuments and cultural institutions, is famous as the place from which many of the great Portuguese explorers set off on their voyages of discovery. A brook in the area of Alcântara’s district which nobles used to promenade in their boats has again become a trendy spot. Lisbon’s oldest district, Alfama, from the Arabic Al-hamma, meaning fountains or baths, continues to be the heart of old Lisboa.

    Ironically, Lisbon has always suffered from a lack of drinking water, prompting King Jõao V to build an aqueduct to bring water in from other sources. The Aqueduto das Águas Livres is one of the most remarkable examples of 18th-century Portuguese engineering. The main course of the aqueduct covers 18 km. In 1748 the aqueduct started to bring water to the city, a fact celebrated in a commemorative arch built in the Amoreiras Gardens where the Mãe d’Água (Mother of the Water) reservoir is located. Known as “temple of water”, the Mãe d’Água was finished in 1834 as the largest city reservoir. Modern technology has rendered it obsolete; but this beautiful structure, part of the Water Museum, is now open to the public.

    (Credit: Portugal Confidential)

    Since the 1990s, areas along the Tejo began to attract Lisboetas with its nightlife, but now the waterfront is being revived not just as the “new hotspot” of trendy clubs.

    New development includes the European Maritime Safety Agency prize winning headquarters along the river near the Portuguese Navy, where more accessible pedestrian-friendly areas are under construction.

    And Parque das Nações, a district that emerged from an urban renewal programme leading to the World Expo ’98, has undergone massive changes that gives it a futuristic look and has become another commercial and high-end residential, pedestrian-friendly locale – which includes the Lisbon Casino and the Oceanário de Lisboa (Oceanarium), the second largest in the world.

    (Credit: Lennie Araujo)

    Beautiful swats of the bluest water views reward steep hill-climbing and sunset gatherings along the river and the many “Miradouros” (view points) are part of the culture; as is an ingrained beach culture.

    The smell of the river and the ocean comes into one’s window at unexpected moments to remind us that the city has a connection to the ocean that is essential, intimate and palpable. It’s one place that’s not just on the water but of the water.

    [1] Today’s Praça do Comércio is one of the few ferry departure points to the south side. Also connected by the 25 de Abril and Vasco da Gama Bridges – this, the longest one in Europe.

    [2] One of the several theories on the origin of Lisbon’s name.

    • No Comments

    • Block this user

      Are you sure you want to block this user and hide all related comments throughout the site?

    • Back to Entry List...
  • ×Search in:

Authored by:

  • bragabond

Recent Entries