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Lisbon, Portugal


Lisbon, Portugal


A sentimental Fado

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episode transcription

Hello, it’s nice to greet you, I’m Yael Yancelson and it will be a pleasure to take this historic and melancholy journey with you, so close your eyes if possible, breathe, relax, give me your hand and let’s travel together with the power of imagination to Lisbon in Portugal , let’s start! We arrive in Lisbon, which welcomes us with an undeniable charm palpable in many of the viewpoints that offer beautiful views of this fascinating city.

Lisbon was founded by the Phoenicians under the name of Ulissipo and was soon conquered by the Greeks and Carthaginians. Finally Lisbon became the capital of Roman Lusitania, being called Olisipo. After the fall of the Romans, it became part of the Suebian kingdom of Galicia until 585.

In the year 711 the history of Lisbon took an unexpected turn when it fell into the hands of the Muslims who gave it the name of al-Usbuma. Alfonso II el Casto recovered it for ten years. The definitive reconquest took place in 1147 by Alfonso I Enríquez supported by the fleet of the second crusade. From the fifteenth century the port of Lisbon became one of the most important in the world. The Guiné y Mina house was established there, which would give it great strength by centralizing trade with the Cape Verde coast in Lisbon. The wealth attracted Genoese, Jews, Flemish and Majorcans, whose maritime knowledge must have influenced the court of Enrique el Navigator. In the 16th century, the Casa de Indias further enriched the city due to trade with Asia, Africa and Brazil, and became the most important center in Europe for slave trade. In 1580 the Duke of Alba conquered Portugal and the Spanish king Felipe II was recognized as king of Portugal. The restoration of independence in 1640 and the great wealth that came from Brazil gave Lisbon a time of great splendor. The great earthquake of November 1, 1755 destroyed Lisbon and was the Marquis de Pombal who rebuilt the city that in 1807 fell into the hands of Napoleon but was reconquered by the English, In 1833 the constitutional monarchy was restored that would last until the proclamation of the republic to in 1910.

In 1932 the Salazar Dictatorship was installed, which would remain until 1974, when a coup led by General Spinola ended the dictatorship. This fact is known as the “Carnation Revolution” In 1986 Portugal entered the European Union.

 Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in Europe. I find its white houses crowned by reddish roofs fascinating. The famous trams have become another symbol of the city.

We will see two unmistakable icons: the Jerónimos Monastery, which is truly an architectural gem, and the Belém Tower, which recalls the Age of Discovery.

What do you think if we go to the most important neighborhoods? La Baixa, El Chiado, the Barrio Alto, La Alfama and Belém. And we will be able to appreciate how each one has a unique spirit. We start in La Baixa, with the most famous squares and streets of the city, it is the commercial district par excellence where we are going to enjoy the energy it gives off. La Baixa is the most central and important neighborhood in Lisbon, with a classic style and geometric streets, the facades covered with tiles so typical of Lisbon abound. It’s very lively, right? In this neighborhood you will find the most emblematic squares and streets. We will start walking in the Plaza de los Restauradores that, through the Avenida de la Libertad, look how beautiful and majestic- if you look to the sides you will see buildings from the 19th century and sidewalks covered with mosaics that form black and white drawings, I love it and you? We continue walking and we arrive at Marqués de Pombal Square, where modern Lisbon begins and is full of cafes with covered terraces, monuments and gardens. A short walk from Plaça do Rossio is Figueira Square, with classic buildings and a statue of Juan I, from which the elegant pedestrian street of Rua Augusta starts, which, through a Baroque-style Arc de Triomphe, leads us into the Plaza del Comercio, the most spectacular in Lisbon. Rua Augusta is flanked by old streets, highlighting Rua do Ouro and Rua da Prata. Without a doubt, it seems to me that the Plaza del Comercio is the most beautiful in Lisbon and was built where the royal palace used to be.

Let’s go up to the Elevador de Santa Justa is one of the fastest ways to get from La Baixa to Barrio Alto. As a means of transportation, the elevator opened its doors to the public on July 10, 1902 under the name of Elevador do Carmo. The elevator was received with great enthusiasm by the inhabitants of Lisbon, since communication between the upper and lower parts of the city had always been a major problem for transportation. In its beginnings, the Elevador do Carmo worked on steam. In 1907 the installation of electric motors was completed.

Let’s go down to Barrio Alto, which then shows us the most bohemian and alternative spirit in which to admire urban art or listen to a melancholic fado. Graffiti and hanging clothes abound in its streets. To get to the Barrio Alto we can take Rua Misericordia. The streets of this district go up a hill located just in front of the Castle of São Jorge and the neighborhood of Alfama. At the foot of the Castle of São Jorge, between it and the sea, is this humble old suburb of fishermen, essence of Lisbon, a neighborhood of smells and feelings, of timid life, cradle of fado: expression of the melancholy of the Portuguese people. Fado was born in the first half of the 18th century as a suburban force that goes conquering the city center. It is quite similar to tango. Fado sadly sings what is gone, the lost empire, the homeland that could have been, the man who lost his glory, the history of Lisbon, his scarred soul, sung so well by the great poets Camoens and Pessoa. Fado is largely a collective memory, Amália Rodrígues is considered the best interpreter that Portugal has given, we are going to listen to her here in the “house of fado”.

Chiado is an elegant and bohemian neighborhood known as the “Montmartre” of Lisbon, it was completely rebuilt after the fire of 1988 and in it the streets do Carmo stand out, with the ruins of the church of the same name, and that of Garret.

 I hope you bring a swimsuit because you should know that here in Lisbon there is a close relationship with the river and the sea. The most popular beach is Sao Joao de Caparica. It is the first and from it you can see Lisbon from afar. While those who prefer to enjoy the views of the Lisbon coast, in the marshes of Lisbon and Cascais they can rent all kinds of boats. There are also a large number of excursions that run through the Cascais bay between picturesque fishing boats, beaches and old forts. If waves are your thing, let’s experience surfing, will you? Let’s go to Ericeira, a traditional fishing village, which has become a surfing destination since its shores were declared a World Surfing Reserve in 2011.

If you are more interested in parks To the west of the city and with nearly a thousand hectares of groves, we arrive at the Monsanto Forest Park full of eucalyptus, oak and pine trees and there is also the Eduardo VII Park, next to the Marqués de Pombal roundabout, with its huge central avenue and the Gulbenkian park it is quite a surprise. And without a doubt, the Jardim Botânico d´Ajuda.

Next to the “25 de Abril” bridge, in the Alcantara neighborhood, is LX Factory, which has me very excited, because these alternative and modern spaces make me really happy!!! It is an old industrial area recovered in which different artists and creative professionals are concentrated, as well as different gastronomic and leisure offers. This old industrial area is a world reference in architecture and rehabilitation of old industrial buildings. Its origin dates back to 1846, when the “Companhia de Fiação e Tecidos Lisbonense” yarn and fabric company came to occupy one of the most important industrial complexes in the history of Lisbon. For years, the complex remained in oblivion, until it was returned to the city, through the project developed by the company Mainside Investments, in the form of this creative island. One of the most characteristic features of LX Factory is that any space is good for art. In addition to the galleries and artists’ workshops, touring the spaces we can appreciate different murals, inspiring posters, and all kinds of urban art by renowned artists. The vibration of creativity is noticeable!!! I love it!!! We enter the Ler Devagar (Read Slowly) bookstore and look at that great wall of books that rises up as a symbol of infinite knowledge. What fun, getting lost among the shelves of the different sections, going up and down the stairs, touring the surprising space of a gigantic industrial press.

Located on the banks of the Tagus in Belém, the Museu de Arte, Arquitetura e Tecnologia in one of the most cultural areas of Lisbon. Far from the center but very well connected, downstream where the Tagus merges with the sea, is the neighborhood of Belém. In Belém there are two essential jewels of Lisbon: the Jerónimos Monastery and the Belém Tower. Other points of interest are also the Monument to the Discoverers, the 25 de Abril Bridge and the National Car Museum.

And before returning to the center, let’s not forget to stop along the way to taste the famous Belém cakes, freshly made inside the great place that is the old factory.

Fado was born in the first half of the 18th century as a suburban force that gradually conquered the center of the city. It seems that we are describing tango, but its parallelism is inevitable. Fado sadly sings what is gone, the lost empire, the homeland that could have been, the man who lost his glory. This is nothing more than the history of Lisbon, its scarred soul, sung so well by the great poets Camoens and Pessoa. Fado is largely a tributary of that collective memory that Amália Rodrígues (1920-1999) supposed, considered the best interpreter that Portugal has given.

You can listen to fado in the “fado houses” and you will find it in its purest version in the Lisbon neighborhoods of La Alfama, Mouraria and Barrio Alto.

Cod à bras:Cod is the quintessential Portuguese ingredient, being the protagonist of many of its traditional dishes. Of course, it shines in all its splendor when cooked with the à brás recipe, also known as golden cod. In it, cooked and shredded cod is used so that, mixed with straw potatoes and beaten egg, it ends up forming the famous and delicious scrambled egg.

Belem Cakes,It is the quintessential Portuguese sweet, and in Lisbon you will see pastry shops that make them by hand everywhere. They are made with puff pastry and have a filling made from milk, egg yolk and sugar that makes them very sweet. They can be eaten hot and cold. Do not miss the most traditional cakes, in the Old Confeitaria de Belem, in the neighborhood of Belém, where they say they follow the original recipe for these cakes.

And then, between so many walks full of nostalgia, history, music and art, I feel like eating something, don’t you? If you want, stay here and come with me to the kitchen, click the button to see the recipe or if you prefer continue to travel.


and that is how we have to say goodbye to the beautiful city of Lisbon, without a doubt it is a place that inspires and leaves something in our hearts, right? Thank you for traveling with me and I look forward to seeing you every week in one more episode, how do you know Alternative Reality is a project that seeks to build community by contributing to different causes if you are interested in learning more about the work that Fundación Once does with visually impaired people in Latin America, go to www.foal.es and as I always tell you: by helping others, we mainly help ourselves.

Thanks for traveling with me and see you next week!

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