We were very happy to return to Lisbon, Portugal (the capital city), after our visit by the ship last July. For this visit we docked in the center of the city at the Lisbon Cruise Terminal in the historic Alfama district.
Our first exploration was in the Chiado district, a neighborhood in central historic Lisbon uphill and to the west of the main square, Praça do Rossio. Named after the Portuguese poet António Ribeiro — nicknamed “Chiado” (squeak) – the residential and shopping area mixes old and commercial buildings.
“In the 18th and, especially, in the 19th century, a great number of important commercial establishments opened in the Chiado, turning it into a favourite shopping area. Some of them exist to this day, like the “Bertrand Bookshop” (opened 1747) and “Paris em Lisboa” (garment shop opened 1888). In 1792, Lisbon’s opera house, the Teatro Nacional São Carlos, was inaugurated, attracting the cultural elite of the city, and other theatres were opened in the 19th century (Trindade Theatre, S. Luís Theatre). Museums were also created, like the Archaeological Museum in the former Carmo Church and the Museum of Contemporary Art in the former St Francis Convent (now Chiado Museum). The cafés and theatres in the area were a meeting point for the aristocracy, artists, and intellectuals at least until the 1960s. It eventually became a beloved touristic site thanks to its picturesque streets and squares, cultural attractions, cafés and shops.” – Wikipedia
Luís Vaz de Camões ( sometimes rendered in English as Camoens or Camoëns, e.g., by Byron in English Bards and Scotch Reviewers), c. 1524 or 1525 – 20 June 1580), is considered Portugal’s and the Portuguese language’s greatest poet. His mastery of verse has been compared to that of Shakespeare, Vondel, Homer, Virgil and Dante. He wrote a considerable amount of lyrical poetry and drama but is best remembered for his epic work Os Lusíadas (The Lusiads). His collection of poetry The Parnasum of Luís de Camões was lost in his lifetime. The influence of his masterpiece Os Lusíadas is so profound that Portuguese is sometimes called the “language of Camões”. – Wikipedia. Camões’s tomb is in Mosteiro dos Jerónimos (the Jerónimos Monastery) in the Belém district of Lisbon.
The Teatro Nacional de São Carlos (National Theatre of Saint Charles) is the opera house in Lisbon; it was opened on July 30, 1793 by Queen Maria I, who had ordered its construction to replace the Tejo Opera House that had been destroyed by Lisbon’s historically significant (and worst in hsitory) earthquake on November 1, 1755 – just six months after the Tejo Opera House had opened. Located in the Chiado district, the architecture of Teatro Nacional de São Carlos is inspired by neoclassical and rococo designs; however, the Theater’s simple exterior is no match for its sumptuous interior featuring ceiling paintings by Manuel da Costa and a stage designed by Lisbon-born sculptor and architect Cirilo Volkmar Machado.
The timing of our backstage tour of the Opera House was terrific, for as we finished walking around the stage and backstage area and toured the Royal Box (center, in the photograph, below), the guide from the Opera House informed us that we could sit in the boxes adjacent to the Royal Box and watch the first part of the initial rehearsal by the orchestra and solo singers for the upcoming performances of Verdi’s Requiem. This turned out to be a wonderful “treat”, as the rehearsal was going very well when we left. We were thrilled to have had a chance to experience the excellent acoustics of the Opera House — an unexpected “bonus” on our full day of exploring Lisbon.
Across from the entrance to Teatro Nacional de São Carlos (National Theatre of Saint Charles), we saw a fantastic modern sculpture that was quite unusual — a bronze statue of a man with a book for his head. Inscribed “Pessoa”, we had to learn about the man that inspired this interesting monument. “Fernando Pessôa, born Fernando António Nogueira Pessôa (June 13, 1888 – November 30, 1935), was a Portuguese poet, writer, literary critic, translator, publisher and philosopher, described as one of the most significant literary figures of the 20th century and one of the greatest poets in the Portuguese language. He also wrote in and translated from English and French. Pessôa was a prolific writer, and not only under his own name, for he dreamed up approximately seventy-five others. He did not call them pseudonyms because he felt that did not capture their true independent intellectual life and instead called them heteronyms. These imaginary figures sometimes held unpopular or extreme views.” – Wikipedia
The Teatro da Trinidad is a National Theater famous for its opera events. A sign in front reads: “Open to the public in 1867, the Teatro da Trinidad was designed by architect Miguel Evaristo de Lima Pinto, commissioned by a private society, in which Francisco Palha had a prominent role. Of Baroque style, decorated in gold and blue colours, with an acoustic which is considered unique in the country, here operas and operettas, plays and balls took place, here the Companhia Amélia Rey Colaço had its headquartes and the “Serões para Trabalhadores” were organised by FNAT, owner of the building since 1962.”