Monday, 14 June 2021

Top 5 - Beaches near Lisbon

Summer is here, and it is time to enjoy the sun and there’s no place like the beach to do so.

One of the good things about Lisbon is its location, a feature that makes it one of the few European capitals to have the most diverse offers to those who visit us.

In Lisbon, one can enjoy the culture that the city has to offer, a secular history to learn, and several
nearby beaches to visit.

The beach is not the main reason tourists visit Lisbon, but once you’re here, there are beaches half an hour away, making it pretty easy to visit and enjoy.

Here we introduce you to the Top 5 – Beaches near Lisbon that you should visit in case you’re looking to get a Portuguese tan:

1 – Caparica
An unbeatable beachfront that stretches for many miles. It is one of the main destinations for locals and it features the Transpraia, a train that connects Caparica town to Fonte da Telha beach.

2 – Grande
Very popular amount surfers and bodyboarders, Praia Grande has the longest unbroken stretch of sand in the area, offering a good variety of bars and restaurants.

3 – Carcavelos

This is the broadest and longest beach along the Estoril coast and although near to Lisboa, Carcavelos still offers good water quality.

4 - Lagoa de Albufeira and Meco
Located in the Southern part of Caparica in a unique setting these beaches are only accessible by car. Lagoa de Albufeira, a lagoon popular for windsurfing and Meco famous for the traditional and picturesque village.

5 - Estoril and Cascais 
At 30 min distance in a train ride from Lisbon, these beaches get very crowded because of their size and are supported by a huge variety of bars and restaurants.

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

Santo António

Unfortunately, this is another year we won't be able to celebrate Santo António as it should be. The only thing left is the holiday itself, since all the toasts, dancing, and parties that are part of Santo António’s Festivities have to be postponed. 

But this makes it a good opportunity to learn more about the most popular Saint in our country.

Santo António was born as Fernando de Bulhões, in Lisbon, between 1191 and 1195, in Rua das Pedras Negras, next to Lisbon’s Sé Cathedral. The house where he was born and where he spent his childhood is now the Church of Santo António, and in the crypt, it is possible to see a piece of one of the Saint's bones, authenticated by Bula.
Santo António

Raised within a noble family to be a knight, in his youth years he asks permission to join the Order of Canons Regrantes of Santo Agostinho, in the Church of São Vicente de Fora and he later left to Coimbra, where he studied theology. The search for introspection and simplicity lead him to the newly created Franciscan Order putting aside not only his Augustine's habit but also his name. Fernando adopted the name António, in honor of the hermit Santo Antão, and devotes himself to preaching the scriptures, which he knows so well, especially after he moved to Italy.

Santo António died in June 13th, 1231, in Arcella, near Padua, Italy, the reason why this date became Santo António's Day. He was canonized in record time, on May 30th, 1232, less than a year after his death, making him the fastest canonized Saint in the history of the Catholic Church, at the time.

The great debate still occurs: Saint Anthony of Padua or Santo António of Lisbon. Being one of the most popular saints of the Catholic Church, disputes are normal, but despite the two different names we are talking about the same Saint. Santo António was born and lived in Lisbon, lived, and died in Padua.

The best way to end the discussion is to quote Pope Leo XIII (1878 - 1903): “He is the Saint of the whole world”.

There are also debates if Santo António is, in fact, Lisbon’s patron Saint. There are those who have doubts about who is, after all, the patron Saint of the Portuguese capital. Between Santo António and São Vicente, the answer is not simple. 

Manjericos (little-potted plants of newly sprouted Basil) and sardines play a major role in these celebrations, but where does the tradition of manjericos and sardines come from? Actually, there isn’t a known connection between Santo António and these two symbols of the “Festas de Lisboa”. The sardine, a fish that swims in the Portuguese seas, has its “high season” during Spring. Spring is also the season associated with love and, in the tradition of these popular festivals, it was customary for boys to buy basil (also known as Valentine's herb) in a small pot and offer it to their beloved. Spring and Summer have the ideal conditions to grow basil, which helped this herb to become so popular during this period.

Another important symbol of these festivities are the popular marches, but how did they start? Lisbon's neighborhoods and communities have been officially parading in the capital for 88 years. The first march parade dates back to 1932 but, before that, the neighborhoods in Lisbon already organized balls and small individual marches among themselves.

The idea was to round up the neighborhoods of Lisbon to show the best of themselves, from costumes to music, and prove the union of the local soul around Santo António’s celebration. 
Created in the “Estado Novo”, during the 70s there weren’t almost any marches. With the revolution in 1974, the following years became less favorable for the celebrations that some considered too linked to Salazar’s regime.

The year 1980 marked the return of the parade in the Avenida da Liberdade, with ten marches and no contest. The awards and the jury returned in 1981. To this day.

Finally, why is it said that Santo António is a matchmaker? Well, that is a story with many versions: according to the book A Biografia do Santo do Amor, Fernando Nuno (the writer) reports the case of a devout young woman who went to Fr. António, asking him for help to marry her neighbor Filipe. The problem: the poor woman's family had no money for the dowry - traditionally given to the groom's parents. Moved, Santo António would have told her that it was better to leave the matter in God’s hands, but in secret, he started working on a plan. That time, Santo António did not distribute the donations collected from the faithful and decided to keep the money until we collected enough money for the young woman's wedding. When he succeeded, he tied the coins inside a purse and, without anyone realizing, he tossed it into the girl's room, along with a written note: "This is the dowry that will allow the bride to marry".

Of course, this is one of many versions and the stories multiply. As usual, in these cases, it is all just a matter of faith. Following the tradition of helping couples get married, every year, the Lisbon’s City Council organizes the event “Santo António's Weddings” for couples who are unable to pay for their own ceremony.

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

"Passion Fruit Delight"

Gustavo has a new proposal for the summer, the "Passion Fruit Delight" an alcohol-free cocktail that will refresh your afternoon! Here's the recipe:

1 1/2 passion fruit

2 cl lemon juice

2 small spoons of honey

4 passion fruit syrup

4 mint leaves

3 lemon wedges

18 cl water

Mix everything in the Shaker and for garnish 1/4 of passion fruit and a fresh mint branch

Monday, 19 April 2021

Bairro Alto

The area that is now the Bairro Alto was being established between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries, through the construction of a number of urban areas and it may be held as "the first modern urbanization of Lisbon".

During the reign of D. Manuel there was a growth of the urban population in Lisbon, due to the expansion of maritime trade. The monarch then established a set of urban and architectural rules, which extended to the entire city.

Since then, the Bairro Alto comes to be a peculiar case of Portuguese urbanism, because it grows along a plane of regularity "unparalleled in the city until the pombalino period".  And as the social level develops in importance and nobility, it also becomes a cultural center attached to Jesuit education.

Although the earthquake of November 1st, 1755 has destroyed the downtown area, Bairro Alto was spared in the majority of its area. Thus, the layout of the neighborhood remained unchanged during the great urban reform in the pombalino period, although many of the sixteenth-century buildings have been replaced.
During the last decades of the eighteenth century, the Bairro Alto was losing its aristocratic character, and, therefore it became inhabited by more popular groups, it consequently turned into one of the centers of Lisbon.

From the nineteenth century, with the growth of the city, and its constant urban renewal, as the stylistic and architectural transformation is a concern, the Bairro Alto became closer to “its currently self” and, since then, the old houses and palaces began to host artists, intellectuals, newspapers’ newsrooms and various structures of social and medical support which turned it into the center of the city's nightlife.

And so, the Bairro Alto preserved its sixteenth urban structure intact, enduring four centuries of urban transformations of the capital, and revealing in its orthogonal grid ideals of Renaissance cities, which have adapted the buildings constructed in the following two centuries.
Since the 1980s it is the best-known nightlife area in Lisbon with numerous bars and restaurants alongside the Fado houses.

The Bairro Alto is now a place of evening entertainment and a meeting point for different cultures and generations, part of the buildings have been or are being recovered, maintaining their original character, which allowed for the setting up of new and alternative commercial spaces, from multi-brand shops and ateliers of tattoos to piercing shops.

Monday, 8 March 2021

International Women’s Day

On March 8th, the International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women.

The idea of establishing the International Women's Day comes with the arrival of the twentieth century, in the context of the Second Industrial Revolution and the First World War, when there was the incorporation of women workers in the industry, as well as their right to vote, and inspired by this spirit, the German socialist leader Clara Zebrino proposed to the Second International Conference of socialist Women in Copenhagen in 1910, the institution of the International Women's Day.

There are two events linked to International Women's Day, the first is connected to a workers' demonstration of New York textile sector held on March 8th, 1857, when workers in protest against poor working conditions, occupied a factory, a demonstration that was, according to some records, suppressed with extreme violence.

The other event, which some historians contest, is that a fire occurred at a factory on the same day in New York, and the absence of a consensus on these events generated myths about these happenings.

Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Valentine's Day

Almost everything in our lives changed in the past year and, at the same time, we were challenged to learn how to do a number of things in different ways. 

Now, Valentine’s Day approaches and we have to figure out a way to celebrate it.

Saint Valentine's Day is an annual holiday held on February 14th that celebrates love and affection. But, what do we actually know about St. Valentine?

There are various opinions as to the origin of Valentine's Day. 

Some experts state that it originated in St. Valentine, a Roman who was martyred for refusing to give up Christianity. He died on February 14th, 269 A.D., the same day that had been devoted to a Spring rite, the “lovers’ lottery”. Legend also says that St. Valentine left a farewell note to the jailer's daughter, who had become his friend, and he signed it "From Your Valentine". 

Other tales say that Saint Valentine served as a priest at a temple during the reign of Emperor Claudius. Back then, Claudius jailed Valentine for defying him.

In 496 A.D., Pope Gelasius set aside the date February 14th to honor St. Valentine.

History and legends aside, it is very important, especially during these challenging times, to celebrate love and affection.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all!

Monday, 25 January 2021

Spring in Lisbon

As we’re experiencing a lockdown, it seems it will only be possible to visit Lisbon in the Spring, but that is probably the best season to visit our city so, here are some spots you can’t miss.

In the Spring, Lisbon has very different colors, the birds will be singing, the flowers blooming and the sun will start to shine. In our opinion, this is, the best time to visit the city.

Springtime allows you to walk around the old town without having to carry an umbrella, it allows you to seat outside one of the many historic Cafés in Lisbon, sipping a coffee and feeling the season’s warm temperature.

This is also the perfect weather to get in touch with nature and visit some of Lisbon’s gardens.
In the middle of all the history and all the culture, you will find small oases that will allow you to take a deep breath in a fresh and reinvigorating environment.

Here are some tips on how to enjoy nature in the city:
  •  Jardim Botânico da Faculdade de Ciências - This garden is on the hill that houses Bairro Alto and Príncipe Real. If you peek through the lush vegetation and some strategic points of the garden, you can see the Castle of São Jorge. The first plants were put in the soil in 1873 and the garden opened to the public five years later. It is a compact garden filled with lakes and waterfalls and plant species from around the world, from countries with Portuguese colonies.
  • Jardim Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian - Located in the heart of a business center in Lisbon, this modern garden covers nearly 8 acres and was designed by Antonio Viana Barreto in 1957, with the collaboration of Gonçalo Ribeiro Teles in the sixties. It's a pretty cool haven with a lake, stream, terraced garden, trails through woods, and, upwards, an outdoor amphitheater where you can attend the hottest concerts and shows in the evenings.
  • Jardim Botânico Tropical - This garden of 6 acres, next to the Palácio de Belém (the President’s Official Residence), has over 400 plant species. It opened to the public, at this location, in 1912 under the name of Garden of the Overseas Colonies as most plants came from former Portuguese colonies. It has a strong scientific purpose which means that inside the garden you can find a seed bank, greenhouses, a laboratory for in-vitro culture, and a wood collection.
Perfect tips for a perfect weather!