Amazing Kids! Magazine


By Vivaan Kartik, age 8, Switzerland


Lisbon (Lisboa in Portugese), the city of seven hills, is the capital of Portugal. River Tagus (pronounced “Tagoosh”) flows through it and runs into the Atlantic Ocean. It is the biggest river in the Iberian Peninsula!

Lisbon has a strategic location for two reasons—being right on the estuary of River Tagus, it was easy for ships to sail in and out; and secondly because of its geographic proximity to Europe, Africa, and the Americas, it became an important seaport for trade. Lisbon flourished in the 15th and 16th centuries in the Age of Discoveries and ascended to the status of world power during this time through trade and colonization. In 1755, the Lisbon earthquake destroyed most of Lisbon, and the Peninsular Wars in 1807 sent Portugal into complete anarchy. The downfall of this great empire began.

l first visited the Monument of Discoveries, which celebrates the Age of Discoveries. The navigation boats used during that period were called “Caravels,” and this Monument is shaped like one. King Henry is at the front holding a ship with 34 historically important people following him, like Vasco de Gama, the first European to discover India, and Ferdinand Magellan, the first to circle the world. The only lady in this monument is Queen Felipa, mother of Henry the Navigator. King Henry was responsible for most of the Portuguese discoveries and was better known as Prince Henry the Navigator. There is also the Belem Tower close by, which was built as a defense system on the mouth of Tagus with some other structures. It was also the starting point for many voyages.

Baixa (pronounced “Baisha”) is the historical Old Town of Lisbon. It was fully destroyed by the earthquake and was rebuilt completely with the first types of earthquake-proof material. Baixa has lots of shops and restaurants, and the streets were lined with vendors selling roasted Kastanhas (chestnuts). It looked a bit run-down or neglected. While we were walking down streets, restaurant owners tried to persuade us to come to them by showing their menus! Praca de Commercio is the main square. The arch in Praca de Commercio was inaugurated on centenary of the devastating earthquake. Some elevators you see in Baixa are unique because they were made to take people not up and down buildings but streets! We went to two of these elevators—Santa Justa and Gloria. These kind of elevators were built in the 19th century and are still operational. The Gloria elevator is technically a funicular, but it’s called an elevator. From the viewing balcony on top of the Santa Justa Elevator, you can see a lovely landscape of Lisbon dotted with red-roofed buildings.

Santo Amaro Docks used to be a warehouse and a place for ships to dock and has now been converted into lively restaurants and is a lovely hang out-place because there’s always the 25 de Abril suspension bridge over you, the sparkling blue River Tagus, and the statue of the Christ De Redeemer on a hill overlooking the docks.

Tram number 28 is a quaint yellow tram that goes up and down the steep, winding, and narrow lanes of old Lisbon, which the new trams can’t navigate as they are too long. It was quite an experience to go in the rattling tram as it dates from the 1930s and is exactly the same as it was back then. All the old trams like Tram 28 are called Remodelado trams. We went on tram 28 because it goes through the most beautiful districts of Lisbon.

Fado music, the traditional music of Lisbon, is melancholy because it was made by the ladies whose husbands had gone out on voyages, so the wives didn’t know when their husbands would come, if they ever would. Many clubs hold Fado music performances to keep the tradition alive.

Sintra is a must-visit town that is bustling with tourists, and it is an easy one-hour train ride from Lisbon. There are loads of tourist attractions in the town of Sintra, but the Pena Palace is definitely the highlight. We went up to the Pena Palace in a bus as it is made on a hill. You can also trek up to the palace, but we preferred the bus as we had my little brother with us. The Sintra Pena Palace is a gorgeous palace, and the first thing that strikes you is the colorful facade. The Triton, half-man, half-fish figure, is on the top of the main entrance. Don Fernando II built this palace. The palace has turrets that we were allowed to go on, and that was a fun experience because I pretended I was a knight battling the enemy down below. The most panoramic view was from the Queen’s terrace. The inside wasn’t as extraordinary as the outside, though.

With so much to see and do and extremely kind locals, I never got bored in Lisbon.