You know that feeling of sadness that sets in when you know your vacation time in an incredible locale is about to end?
Yeah, that mixed bag of feelings where you’re kind of ready to get home to your own bed, but you also can’t fathom leaving behind your days of happy wandering. I really wasn’t ready to leave Lisbon. I liked this city even more than I anticipated I would.
Determined to spend every moment I could out in the city on my last day, my friend and I headed out to check out a couple of things left on our Lisbon list (and to eat at Time Out Market one more time).
I’d read very mixed reviews of the Elevador Santa Justa. It’s a bit like the Pyramid in front of the Louvre. Some people adore it; some people despise it. The lift was opened in 1902 and was originally named Elevador do Carmo (you’ll see why in just a bit). In truth, I find the Santa Justa Lift to be a bit of an eyesore…but, it really is the most convenient way to get from the Baixa to the Barrio Alto, unless you really like walking uphill.
You can use your city travel passes or Lisboa Card to take the elevator up and down. It works like the rest of the transport in Lisbon, simply swipe your card in front of the scan pads located at the entrance of the lift.
After standing in line for about 15 minutes, we were ushered into the lift. If you’re thinking the Santa Justa Elevator looks a bit like the Eiffel
Tower, you aren’t wrong. Raul Mesnier de Ponsard was a big fan of Gustave Eiffel and used his tower as inspiration. The elevator stands only about 150 feet tall, but you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views at the top. (On a quirky note: 20 people can ride up in the elevator, but only 15 people at a time can come down. Expect a bit of a wait.)
At the top of the Santa Justa was one of the sites I had been waiting to see, the ruins of the Carmo Church and Convent. Perhaps the most spectacular site I saw in Lisbon – and I saw lots of spectacular sites – the ruins of this Gothic church are a cannot miss, in my opinion.
The Carmo church, built between 1389 and 1423, was THE church in Lisbon until the devastating earthquake that changed Lisbon completely struck on November 1, 1755. Attempts at restoration were eventually abandoned and the ruins were left to grace the Lisbon skyline.
The magnitude 9 earthquake rocked the city of Lisbon, brought this church to rubble and destroyed the 5,000 some books that it housed.
The remains of the altar now house a small but fantastic museum and visitors are free to take their time marveling at what remains of the Gothic structure. I spent hours looking up at the striking arches, imagining what this church looked like in its glory days.
I have so many photos of these arches. Every angle brought a new gorgeous view. (I’ve posted some of them in the slideshow below).
I visited two other churches on my last day. I walked right up on Igreja da Madalena, the Church of Mary Magdalene, on my way to the Lisbon Cathedral. This little church was a lovely surprise and is actually on the historic register. Like many places in Lisbon, the church today is a product of several reconstructions. Incredibly ornate, it’s worth a stop.
Just up the hill, you will find the Lisbon Cathedral. The Sé de Lisboa as you’ll hear it called (its official name is Santa Maria Maior) is a Romanesque structure that dates from the 12th Century. You can enter the church at no charge. Pay a small fee to see the cloisters and the church’s treasury which houses jewels and artifacts from its history.
Our last official tourist duty in Lisbon was to hop aboard one of the trams that shuttles you around the hilly city side. The tram stop for the famous Line 28 is just outside the Cathedral.
Hop aboard the yellow car and ride the loop to enjoy Lisbon’s neighborhoods without the leg workout.
Obrigada Lisboa. Espero vê-lo novamente em breve.