Traveler’s geography is made of emotions. Lisbon challenges the audacious among the hills and the portuguese sidewalk. The weather, almost always mild, is not a concern. Museums, churches, belvederes, gardens. The smell of sardines in a street tavern, or the sea flavor in a seafood dish in a gourmet restaurant. Are you going to have a ginjinha, a port, a cocktail or a coffee? Tile panels, urban art, installations. Lose yourself shopping - hipster stores or luxury brands, a market for organic products or a thrift shop? With the night fall we hear fado, opera, jazz, classical music, rock, garage bands. From the Castle we can see who comes upstream, and through the Tagus river we go to the world with Lisbon in our hearts. After all, Lisbon is all around you.
Lisbon has many icons; custard tarts, terracotta rooftops and pastel hued buildings being only a few. The most striking of them all however, are its trams and funiculars used to navigate the seven hills Lisbon was built on. Just a few minutes walk from our hotel is Rua de São Paulo; a narrow, cobbled, steep street connected to Rua do Loreto by the historic Elevador Da Bica (Bica Lift) a funicular that has been in operation since 1892. Here's what you need to know about this history of Lisbon's funicular on our doorstep.
Elevador da Bica are two cars linked together on cables which ascend and descend simultaneously; each working as a counterweight for the other. When first built the funicular moved by a water counterbalancing system; the car at the top of the hill was filled with water in its tank until it was heavy enough to descend and pull the other car up. By 1896 the lift was steam powered and by 1924 it was fully operated by electricity. The funicular rises to a distance of 245 meters on an 11.8% inclination. It travels against the breathtaking backdrop of the River Tagus and crosses the Bica district towards the Bairro Alto neighbourhood.
All things considered this is the most picturesque ride in the city. It's easy to see why once you experience it. As well as the stunning scenery of the river, the Bica District is the most photographed in all of Lisbon by visitors. The main reason for this being that it is a traditional and authentic part of the city. The small neighbourhood between Bairro Alto and Cais do Sodré consists of cobbled alleys with stairways which date as far back as 1597. With views of the River Tagus, 18th century buildings, ornate balconies and endless tiled walls you will be spoilt for choice when capturing your days in Lisbon. After a long day of sight seeing stop at one of the tiny cafes to enjoy a coffee and watch the world go by with Lisbon all around.
The funicular from Rua de São Paulo to Largo Calhariz leaves every 15 minutes (delays permitting) between 7am – 9pm Monday to Saturday and 9am – 9pm on Sundays and public holidays. We recommend the purchase a 24 hour pass. For more information visit: Viva Viagem Card.
One of the best qualities of Lisbon, we think you'll agree, is its ability seamlessly blend rich decadent history with sleek modern ideas. Nothing portrays this character of the city better than Mercado Da Ribeira which is a mere five minutes walk from our hotel. Welcome to TimeOut Market and food hall, Lisbon.
Mercado Da Ribeira, which translates to River Market, has always sat in its riverside home of Avenida 24 de Julho. Its history can be traced back to the 13th century but the market began in 1882. The building itself is instantly recognisable with it's striking clock tower and oriental dome. The River Market was also once the most famous fish market in all of Europe. Yet, by the 21st century its popularity had waned and the area and building fell in to decline in both usage and sales. In a bid to revive the historic institution, in 2010, Lisbon City Council invited bidders to overhaul the market. TimeOut Lisboa magazine won the bid and was granted permission to execute its ambitious plans.
Today, it's a vast space combining traditional stalls of local produce, artisan food and an unmissable food hall with top chefs. An array of food and drink ranging from seafood to ice cream can be found in the market. It's a wonderful place to watch the rhythm of Lisbon. Between 6am and 2pm the ground floor fills up with stalls selling fresh produce. Local people arrive early to grab a bargain of the best vegetables, fruit or even flowers. Lunch time draws Lisbon's young professionals to the Western hall scurrying around communal tables with freshly-cut sandwiches, sushi or burgers. As the sun begins to set the gourmet food hall hosts sophisticated diners always on the look out for something new.
The market is a great place to spend an evening if you're visiting the city. If you're lucky enough to spend a weekend here be sure to take part in one of the dance classes held late in to the night. We are sure it will be an unforgettable Lisbon evening.
For more information visit: TimeOut Lisboa
Portugal's capital Lisbon predates ancient cities like Rome, London and Paris by centuries. Alfama is the oldest district. The Moorish Castle of São Jorge is found here as is Lisbon Cathedral. Take a walk amongst the old houses and new restaurants in here and listen to the melancholy sounds of the Fado filling up the evening.
Of course the capital of Portugal has had its fair share of tragedy and triumph. In 1755 the Kingdom of Portugal suffered one of the most destructive earthquakes in the history of the world. On the morning of Saturday, 1 November, when the city was celebrating All Saint's Day, an earthquake struck at around 09:40 local time. Contemporary reports suggest that it lasted between three to six minutes. Seismologists today estimate that the earthquake had a magnitude in the range 8.5–9.0 on the Richter Scale.
Crevices of up to 5 metres wide opened in the city centre as survivors fled to the docks for safety. The town's population watched in horror as the sea receded and revealed the sea bed littered with shipwrecks. Approximately 40 minutes after the earthquake a tsunami submerged the harbour, downtown Lisbon and the River Tagus. At the same time, candles which had been lit around churches and homes to celebrate All Saints Day had been knocked over by the earthquake and started a firestorm burning the city for hours. Estimates place the death toll from the catastrophe, in Lisbon alone, between 10,000 and 100,000 people.
It took the city less than a year to reconstruct what had been lost. King Joseph I of Portugal commissioned big squares, wider streets and large avenues. The city was cleared of debris and seismically protected constructions known as Pombaline buildings took shape to protect it for future generations.
Did you know that a structure which survived the great earthquake of 1755 sits right in the heart of our hotel? The ceiling of our Criatura Restaurant resisted the disaster and stands proudly to this day. The restaurant is used for private functions and corporate events but it's open to guests who simply wish to come and marvel at the ceiling which survived one of the worst natural catastrophes in human history. We have preserved it as a reminder of the great spirit of Lisbon.
No visit to Lisbon is complete without tasting what the British newspaper The Guardian ranked as the 15th tastiest delicacy in the world; pastéis of Belém. The perfect pastéis is a small, baked egg tart encased in layers of light pastry shell. The shell will be filled with a divinely smooth egg custard that is delicately caramelised on top. We of course, prefer it dusted with cinnamon. Also known as pasteis de nata they are commonly eaten as an accompaniment to coffee and may be eaten hot or cold.
The history of these delicacies is that in the 18th century Portuguese convents and monasteries would use egg whites to starch the clothes of nuns and priests. Leftover egg yolk was used to make sweets and pastries which became available all over Portugal. The Monastery of Jerónimos in the parish of Santa Maria de Belém is where it all began. A revolution in 1820 caused religious orders to be gradually shut down. In Belém, some monks started to sell pastéis at a nearby sugar refinery to bring in an income. When that monastery too was forced to close, in 1837, the recipe was sold to the refinery. They duly opened the Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém in the same year selling none other than the pastéis. Descendants of the original refinery still own the business today. Belém is only 10 minutes drive away from our hotel and a worthy visit by all means for its significance in Lisbon's culinary history.
However, if you can't make it to Belém and still want to taste the traditional pasties, visit Manteigaria on Rua do Loreto or the Time Out Market in our neighbourhood. Watch the freshly baked tarts come out of the hot ovens and disappear just as quickly! The artisanal production in Manteigaria's open kitchen will offer you a wonderful insight in to Lisbon's past and present. A fun fact to know is that in Lisbon we get through 10,000 pastéis each day. At just €1 per tart at Manteigaria you'd be forgiven for taking home a dozen. A word of advice however, is that they're best eaten hot and fresh as the 18th century priests of the Monastery of Jerónimos would have intended.
On 10th November 2018 we travelled to Bali, Indonesia to attend the 12th Annual World Luxury Hotel Awards. The prestigious awards, established in 2006, recognises the finest in the luxury hotel industry offering international recognition to its winners. As the awards are voted for by guests, travellers and industry experts, with over 300,000 vote cast each year, it is a revered accolade in the luxury hospitality industry.
This year Verride Palácio Santa Catarina was nominated in three categories. It was a remarkable recognition for a hotel yet to complete its first year. To say that we were honoured by the recognition alone would be an understatement. We have been thrilled by it and our staff inspired by this acknowledgement.
On a warm Balinese evening, armed with great hopes, we joined other worthy nominees who had travelled from all around the world to attend this prestigious event. It was a valuable opportunity to connect with some of the greatest names in the industry. Sharing our experiences, concerns and joys with warm Indonesian hospitality made for an unforgettable evening that will forever be etched in our memories.
Following a drinks reception and gala dinner the excitement of the awards ceremony was at fever pitch. As each category winner was announced we felt privileged to simply be included amongst such worthy nominees.
As the category of Luxury Palace Hotel was announced and our name appeared on the big screen, on the stage, we were elated! Not only had we won the category, that meant so much to us and strive to achieve each day, but we were named the winner for all of Europe; a unique victory on a continent rich in heritage, castles and palaces.
We are proud winners and we promise to live up to our accolade as we bring the heritage of Lisbon to the forefront of luxury hospitality. Our staff, directors and guests thank World Luxury Hotel Awards for this incredible honour. We pledge to continue overcoming challenges and keep working to build a greater and more enriching experience at Verride Palacio Santa Catarina. Thank you to all those who voted for our Palace. We are humbled by your support. We consider this a win for Lisbon and Portugal as much as for us.