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If there is one city in Europe that can rightfully claim for itself the title of city of explorers, then it is Lisbon. From its great ports sailed forth into the world the great explorers of the world like Vasco da Gama.
And when you visit Lisbon, you will see why it has engendered fearless explorers, why it is a city worth exploring, and why evidence of its glorious past of exploration remains in the parks and squares, among other places.
Take a look at the Jardim Botanico (Botanic Garden), which was created in 1873 with the express intention of impressing visitors and inspiring thoughts of exploration. Located in the heart of Lisbon, it is the city’s heart for solitude amidst the tranquility of nature so much so that even its modest entrance fee is well-accepted among its residents.
The Jardim Botanico is also the place where the fruits of exploration can be seen with plants, shrubs and trees gathered from expeditions to other countries of the world.
Then hop to the Parque Eduardo VII, which was obviously named for the British monarch, King Edward VII, who visited Lisbon in 1903. Not only is it named for royalty but its size befits its namesake – Parque Eduardo VII is the largest park in Lisbon. There are two greenhouses filled most handsomely with plants, palms and cacti with ponds thrown in for good measure.
Walk up to the Marques de Pombal Square to enjoy a magnificent vista of the city from atop the hill. Or get your sports mojo on inside the sports pavilion just opposite the greenhouses.
Don’t miss the Oceanario, site of the Expo 98. With its huge aquarium filled with all sorts of marine animals, the Oceanario is a must-see place for a visit for kids and kids at heart alike. It is also a reminder that Lisbon was once a master of the seas with an empire stretching across the oceans to lands as far away as Asia.
Surprisingly, visitors can see the remnants of windmills in the city. The Parque dos Moinhos de Santana, which can be accessed from Belem, once boasted of numerous windmills used to mill the grains of Lisbon. Although there are only two windmills left standing, these are still wonderful in their own right. Be warned, however, that taking pictures may not be allowed inside the park.
Any mention of Lisbon’s parks and squares will be incomplete without including Rossio and Chiado. Originally known as the Dom Pedro IV Square, Rossio is a traditional meeting place for Lisboans so it is a great place for people-watching, if not actually making new friends. It is also filled with beautiful monuments, wonderful fountains and the enticing smell of freshly roasted chestnuts.
The Chiado is conveniently located between Baurro Alto and Baixa Pombalina. Residents and visitors alike rave about its mix of traditional with contemporary shopping as well as its cultural activities.
But before visiting these parks and squares, it is important to book a holiday apartment near these places. You want to be able to access these places of peace and quiet on one hand with people and culture on the other hand at a moment’s notice.
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