When we think about Lisbon we think about one big open-air museum, especially in the center of the city you can find many old buildings. Legend has it that Lisbon was founded by the Greek hero Odysseus during his long journey home, the Odyssey. The first trade happened around 1200 BC in the Alfama district.
Alfama and Mouraria are the oldest districts of the city, which you can also see in the streetscape. Many winding streets and alleys can be found here, with central squares where local residents still come together. You will also find the oldest buildings in the city in these two neighbourhoods.
If you want to enjoy historic Lisbon, below we’ve compiled a list to start your journey of discovery. These are our historical highlights in Lisbon, with one reasonably new addition not to be missed. These are essential landmarks to visit if you’re looking for a dive into Lisbon’s past.
1. Convento do Carmo
In the middle of the city of Lisbon you will find the Convento do Carmo, the Carmo monastery. This imposing ruin shows the marks of the great earthquake of 1755. It is one of the oldest buildings in Lisbon that survived.
2. Castelo de São Jorge
On the tallest hill of Lisbon lies the most famous and oldest castle of Lisbon: Castelo de São Jorge. It is one of the main tourist attractions of the city, and it’s certainly worth a visit, even if it’s only for the beautiful views.
The Alfama district is situated on one of the seven hills of Lisbon, between Castelo de São Jorge and the Tagus. Alfama is the oldest district of Lisbon. In fact, at the time of the Moorish rule Lisbon consisted only of Alfama. This is where the city originated and this district should not be missing between our historical highlights.
4. Mosteiro dos Jerónimos
Mosteiro dos Jerónimos with its impressive appearance cannot be missed in Belém. The building takes you back to the time of Vasco da Gama who thanked the Virgin Mary for the success of the voyages of discovery, right here in the monastery.
5. Panteão Nacional
Santa Engrácia is a former church in Alfama. In the twentieth century the church was converted to Panteão Nacional. But the construction of the former church started in the second half of the 16th century.
6. Confeitaria de Belém
A relative newcomer on this historical list. In 1837 the bakers of Confeitaria de Belém started making pastéis de nata according to a secret recipe of eggs, dough and cream. A visit to Belém is not complete without having eaten pastéis de Belém here!