Thursday 9 June 2022

Chiado - Lisbon

We started our exploration of Chiado, a district famed for its smart shops and cafes, from Rua Garett. This was the heart of the area that was greatly damaged by a fire in 1988, although the original belle epoque atmosphere has since been superbly re-created.

It was here that I came across this street performer, who the minute he saw my camera, he put his hand in front of his face, and started shouting 'no paparazzi, no paparazzi'. I had already taken this picture however, and decided to keep it.

Rua Garrett ends at Largo do Chiado, a busy square

with a statue of Antonio Ribriro.

Cafe a Brasileira is the jewel on the crown of this square. Opened in 1905, this is the most famous of Lisbon's old-style coffee houses. The tables on the pedestrinized street get snapped up immediately, but we managed to sit here one lunchtime as well as one evening for a meal.

An outdoor statue of the poet Fernando Pessoa sits next to the outdoor tables.

Pessoa is Portugal's greatest contemporary poet and a leading figure of 20th century modernism. Born in Lisbon, he grew up in South Africa before returning to Portugal in 1905 to work as a translateor. He spent much of his time composing poems in Lisbon's cafes. Many of his works are about identity.  His most famous is the Book of Disquiet written under the heteronym Bernardo Soares. The partly autobiographical work is full of extraordinary philosophical ruminations that have established his reputation as a leading existentialist artist.

Ken could not resist.

The real appeal of a Brasileira is in the traditional interior however: unfortunately we did not sit inside - the good weather was too tempting once we had found a table outside.

Hanging high up on the walls are paintings

of different styles

with shiny bronze plaques next to them, telling us who the painter is

It's a wonderful place.

A bit further down, on Rua Garrett is the Igreja dos Martires (Church of the Martyrs), named after the English Crusaders who were killed during the siege of Lisbon. 

It's quite spectacular inside

The skulls were a bit unexpected.

Outside the church we saw this classic car - they are quite common in Lisbon, available for hire by tourists for tours of the city.

This shop, amongst other cakes sells pasteis de nata. They are to be found everywhere: these custard tarts have flaky crusts, custardy centres and carefully caramelised surfaces - they are delicious.

A few streets down, the National Museum of Contemporary Art has its home.

Walking down the hill, one eventually reaches the Cais do Sodre, one of the city's 'in' districts. 

This outdoor streetfood market is always packed

and it's by the riverfront. 

Many of its waterfront warehouses have been converted into upmarket cafes and resturants, 

and walking along here is very pleasurable - or, instead, one can sit on one of these unusual benches, or even lie down.

These pineapple sellers are everywhere in Lisbon: you can either buy chunks of the fruit, or you can drink its juice.

Eventually one reaches this square full of flowering jacaranda trees

and this is where the train station is situated.

I love that building.

Almost across the road, the Mercado da Ribeira is situated. Built originally on the site of an old fort at the end of the 19th century, the Mercado da Ribeira is Lisbon's most historic market, though the current structure dates only from 1930. 

Much of hee building is now given over to the vibrant Time Out Market Lisboa, filled with an impressive range of food stalls and plenty of communal benches. Some of the city's top chefs have stalls here.

We chose to go on a Sunday because they also have a collectors' market. What we did not know was that this was a substitute for the 'proper' market so missed out on the fruit, vegetables, fish and flowers that are sold during the week. We also missed out on the collectors' market as they close before 12:00.

We wandered around the area for a while looking for somewhere to sit and have a hot drink and finally ended up here, in Rua Sao Paulo

After a good rest we ended up on Rua Cor-de-Rosa (Pink Street), apparently one of the coolest hangouts,  having been revamped  from an area that was full of dodgy clubs and bars.

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