There was a moment, I’d been here two weeks, I was looking over the city from one of its many viewpoints, that I became overwhelmed when I realised just how much there is to do and see here. I am reminded of this now as I decide what to write about. I did think to do a district at a time, this isn’t going to work for me as I have already been to quite a few of the districts either to eat, visit an attraction, or see an event, so I think as I do something I think you would like, I will write about it. Today there are two quite different experiences in two different areas, I hope you enjoy getting to know Lisbon with me.
Belém, a district to the west of central Lisbon, is where, on the third Sunday of the month the Guarda Nacional Repubicana (National Republican Guard) performs the changing of the guard ceremony at Belém Palace.
The ceremony begins with the arrival of the new guard, then the band plays a few tunes, there was a lovely moment when the national anthem was played, the people in the crowds sang along.
The arrival of the mounted troopers is next, including a mounted band, they all gather on the road, which has been closed, there’s another performance by the Band.
Once the ceremony was over the mounted band put on a more informal display in a park near the palace. It is quite impressive how they manage to play an instrument while riding a horse. The music the band played at the changing of the guard ceremony was quite formal, in the park they began the display with the theme from Star Wars and ended with Phantom of the Opera.
Northwest of Lisbon in the suburb of Benfica is the Palace of Fronteira. The palace and the gardens were built around 1670 as a hunting pavilion for the first Marquis of Fronteira, Dom Joao de Mascarenhas. From the road the building looks like a large house rather than a palace, however a step inside the entrance reveals the walls and stairs of the palace covered in azulejos.
Although the style is very Portuguese, the palace and gardens were heavily influenced by Italian Renaissance Architecture. It is the only surviving suburban private house and gardens, of its period, that still retains its original characteristics. The palace is built in the Mannerist style with Baroque decoration, reflecting a 17th century palatial style. The house is extensively decorated with artworks and azulejos, photography is not allowed inside the palace. Access to the palace is by a guided tour, which ends on the terrace.
The 16th century chapel, is the oldest part of the palace, and is covered with stones, shells, broken glass and porcelains.
Both the palace and gardens are decorated with the largest and best collection of Portuguese seventeenth-century azulejos, depicting hunting, battle scenes, mythical figures, religious scenes and animals. The formal gardens have statues, fountains and a large pond.