Lisbon Old Town

Lisbon's old town rivals the charm and beauty of its European counterparts, with an added pinch of mystery.

TravelCurious Tip

Try the nearby Restaurante Largo for its unparalleled gin menu — and the aquarium tanks containing live jellyfish!

Lisbon is an ancient city that has held onto its history. Some parts are modern, but others, visited on a quiet morning, appear unchanged from centuries ago. Baixa, Rossio and Alfama are among the districts in Lisbon’s Old Town.

The Rock

Alfama in particular retains its old world charm. Much of Lisbon was destroyed during the huge earthquake of 1755, but Alfama, due to its sturdy bedrock, remained standing. Traditionally it has been a poorer neighbourhood, but recently it has started to become trendier, though without losing the charm of antiquity.

From the Rubble

The name Rossio is roughly equivalent to the word “commons” in English, and indeed Rossio Square has been an important meeting place for Lisbon’s citizens for centuries. Most of the buildings that remain date from after the 1755 earthquake, although the Palace of the Independence survived intact. You can still find some very traditional shops though, such as Café Nicola, a favourite haunt of the poet Manuel Maria Barbosa du Bocage.

Back To the Future

The Baixa district is the heart of Lisbon, with its sprawling plazas and grand 18th century architecture. Grab a Ginja (cherry liquor) from the Ginjinha bar and make your way to the top of the Arco da Rua Augusta for a marvellous view. Baixa is the perfect base for exploring the rest of the city, too: just hop on the 28 tram for a clunking journey through Lisbon’s Old Town in a tram they have used since the 1930s — the only type that can handle the narrow, up and down streets of Alfama.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Lisbon
Commerce Square
This beautiful seafront square was the location of the Royal Ribeira Palace until the 1755 earthquake; it was remodelled as a centre for customs administration.
Bairro Alto
Wander through the steep and picturesque cobbled streets of bohemian Bairro Alto.
Rossio Square
One of Lisbon's main squares since the Middle Ages, Rossio was destroyed and reconstructed after the great 1755 earthquake.
Baixa Pombalina
A particularly elegant district of Lisbon, the Lower Town was among the world's first earthquake-resistant constructions.
Santa Justa Lift
This urban elevator from 1902 connects the lower street of Baixa with Carmo Square.
Igreja do Carmo
The final traces of the medieval Carmo Convent, which was almost entirely destroyed after the 1755 earthquake.

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