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Lisbon

Alfama District in Lisbon from the Pool at Memmo Hotel

Lisbon (Portugal). Alfama is the oldest and probably the most characteristic district of Lisbon: it goes from the Tejo river up to the Sao Jorge Castle, and it is today a very popular touristic attraction. Every day, thousands of people come here – most of them with the popular tram number 28 – and walk up and down this picturesque labyrinth made of narrow streets, small squares and cozy restaurants playing fado.

The thing that impressed me most, and that I tried to capture when I was contemplating the landscape of Alfama at the beginning of sunset, is the perfect coexistence of sumptuous and elegant churches emerging from a dense jumble of roofs and terraces (the typical “miradouro”). This strong contrast in my opinion represents the true essence of Alfama, a sort of DNA of this district, which went – in the years – through opposite periods. In fact, if during the Moorish domination the Alfama was corresponding with the whole city, with the later expansion to west the district started its decadency and became inhabited mostly by poor people and fishermen. With the devastating earthquake of 1755, the Alfama was not affected and it was therefore preserved by any activity of reconstruction, keeping its original urban texture. With the recent renovation of old houses and with an activity of deep restoration, the Alfama is today one of the most vibrant part of Lisbon, populated both by locals and by foreigners.

I captured this image from the poolside on the roof of the Memmo Alfama Hotel, the first boutique hotel in Lisbon: a perfect terrace where to enjoy a drink watching one of the most popular and spectacular view of the Portugal’s capital.

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The Bica Funicular (Ascensor da Bica) in Lisbon

Lisbon (Portugal). A quick-and-dirty tip about Lisbon: I understand that probably the main city attraction – the one that everyone coming to Lisbon has been recommended to do – is a downtown tour with the tram n. 28, crossing all the main touristic sites of this wonderful capital, including a very special passage through the Alfama district. But for this reason, the hop- on and hop-off with the tram n. 28 can be a serious challenge, since many tourists share this recommendation and the coaches can be very overcrowded and hot.

So, consider to leave the 28 to locals and to “tripadvisor.com” short-sighted tourists, don’t be lazy and walk the city using your legs! It’s much better, you will always find a place where to sit down and relax for some minutes (contemplating the beauties of Lisbon), you will discover the city much better in a less conventional way and – last but not least – you won’t complain about your choice when you will see the tram passing close to you totally overloaded of people.

And if you want to shoot a picture highlighting the typical streetcar system with the challenging slopes of Lisbon’s districts (such as the Bairro Alto), the Bica Funicular (Ascensor da Bica) is probably what you are looking for!

All above considered, enjoy Lisbon!

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Azulejos at Sintra National Palace, Portugal

Sintra (Portugal). The Sintra National Palace (or, in Portuguese, “Palácio Nacional de Sintra”) is a very popular destination located 25 kilometers west from Lisbon. For this reason, it’s easily crowded with tourists (in my case, it took 30 minutes to reach this place with a car, but more than an hour to find a parking lot) and I can’t say that I was particularly pervaded by the atmosphere of the place – unfortunately.

Except when I entered into the dining room, characterized by fantastic azulejos (painted tin-glazed ceramic tile-works) decorating the walls – reminding me the Cloister of Porto Sé Cathedral visited few days earlier. I found this scene, with the armchair in the corner and light filtering from the window, very nice and worthy of being captured (and shared here of course).

I prepared this photo yesterday, almost one year after I went to Portugal. The reason is because at the beginning I was not finding it so interesting, probably because it was mixed with ordinary (for me) images of a place with many tourists. But whereas I was working on it, I thought that travelling to a popular destination can be challenging for those, like me, who live their trip as something beyond the simple “visiting a place” and – as written here above – try to be pervaded by the atmosphere of a place. For this reasons, sometimes, I think it’s a good idea to dedicate more time to observe details, than to waste minutes waiting for remaining alone and finding the right “isolation” from the mass.

It’s my personal opinion (feel free to write yours) but in my case it works!

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A Luz De Lisboa (The Light of Lisbon)

Lisbon (Portugal). This is a photo from my recent trip around Portugal. I’m particularly attached to this shot, since it’s the first one I took as soon as I arrived to Lisbon. It was late afternoon, the sun was going down in front of the city and I was drinking a beer at Praça do Comércio, probably the most important city’s square and – for sure – one of the most beautiful ones, surrounded by wonderful buildings and with the end of Tejo river (Tagus, in English) meeting the Atlantic Ocean in front of me.

What captured my attention was the light: it was incredibly brilliant and clean, and the sunset was perfectly colored with a warm orange tone. I immediately understood it was “The Light of Lisbon”, and – interestingly – in front of me there was the banner of an exhibition exactly with that name: “A Luz de Lisboa” (translated, The Light of Lisbon).

Behind the building’s corner there is one of the symbols of Lisbon, the April 25th Bridge, whereas people are walking around, probably going back home or preparing for Lisbon by night.

 

This is my first photo of Lisbon and Portugal. Many others will follow in the next days…

 

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