The first building to catch your attention will likely be the immense Sé (Cathedral), rebuilt after the 1755 earthquake in the Romanesque style in which it was originally constructed in 1150, rather than as the florid Rococo edifice that had been destroyed. Secreted along the nearby Rua Saudade are the ruins of a Roman Theater accompanied by an excellent museum. You can view them from several levels, the uppermost of which offers the added bonus of a fine view over the Alfama, through which Tram 28 subsequently ascends.
If you’re in a hurry, Tram 28’s route offers an alternative to exploring the Alfama on foot, although you won’t fully appreciate its charm without actually walking through it. I personally struck a balance by riding Tram 28 from Largo Martim Moniz and strolling down through the Alfama after I’d visited the Castelo de São Jorge. The poorest area of central Lisbon, the Alfama, was the only one to escape the earthquake unscathed and consequently retains the feel of a medieval town. It cascades down the side of a hill to the River Tagus, where many of its inhabitants traditionally have worked either in the port or its fish markets, so steep that most of its "streets" are actually stairways!
The Alfama is more an experience than a sight, but the Miradouro de Santa Luzia is just the opposite, offering sweeping views of the Alfama and Tagus to the south and the Graça to the west. The tourists noisily taking photographs here starkly contrast with the elderly Lisboêtas, who somehow manage to relax over cards and coffee. Presuming you fall into the former category, this stop, marked by the church of Santa Luzia (just ask for "Santa Luzia"), is also the best place either to begin a descent through the Alfama or an ascent (along the well-marked but tiring path) to the Castelo.
Originally built under Moorish rule as the heart of a walled city, the largely derelict Castelo has served over the years as everything from a royal residence to a prison and is now an delightful place to explore, offering ample parkland and superb views of every corner of Lisbon. The old neighborhood of Santa Cruz still crowds within its walls and is more accessible than the nearby Alfama. There aren’t any further specific sights to be seen on the rest of the tram’s route, although the views are stunning.
Results 1-6of 6 Reviews
Moscow, Moskva, Russia
December 9, 2010
by Owen Lipsett
New York, New York
September 9, 2005
From journal Lovely, Languorous Lisbon
November 30, 2004
Going up the hills (eastbound) towards the Castelo is like a roller-coaster ride, but going all the way to the west is just as fun.
From journal Lisbon in wintertime
February 8, 2004
From journal Portugal IS a budget vacation!
Todmorden, England, United Kingdom
May 23, 2002
Thr tram creeps through the narrow strrets of the Alfama area - where you should walk as well. Frequently mad parking leads to long delays but it does not seem to matter much. Then steeply down to the central part of the city and up again through the posher bits to the old area of Estrela.
This is a good trip to take early in a visit as it is a unique way of establishing your geographical awareness.
From journal Lisbon levels and lifts - and a day out.
Brighton, United Kingdom
March 11, 2002
The No.5 Tram is my favourite tram route, as well as being my transport to the city centre. This tram runs between Lapa in west and Graca in the east. The best bit, in my opinion is the run down from Estrela/Lapa, through Bairro Alto, Baixa, and past the Cathedral and up through Alfama. In summer, peak tourist season, the stretch between Baixa and Graca is incredibly busy and you often have to wait one or two trams before squeezing on. My advice is to walk one or two stops back up the line to get on in relative ease.
Ideally, the run should be done on one of the old wooden trams, which sadly are being phased out by swish shiny ones, as the ride is like a runaway boneshaking rollercoaster up and down Lisbon’s hills with the bell clanking aggressively at anything human or mechanical that looks like straying into its path. The zig-zag route past the Cathedral and castle is amazing, as the tram hurtles along narrow lanes almost touching the sides.
The most well known elevador is the Elevador de Santa Justa in Baixa, an anorexic wrought iron skeleton of a tower, with a lift that takes you up from Baixa to Chiado and the ruins of Carmo Cathedral. From the top there is a great view over Baixa.
My favourites are the less well-known elevadors. Away from the city centre these are working lifts, carrying heavily laden ladies, hunched under their shopping, and labouring old men. These routes are incredibly short, but the hills are also incredibly steep if you do decide to walk. Elevador da Bica cuts straight up the hill between Rua da Sao Paulo and Rua do Loreto. If you follow the No.5 Tram route heading west out of Chiado the top of the elevador is on your left not long after you start heading down Rua do Loreto This yellow and white mini funicular, climbing a very steep hill, is predominantly used by grumpy flat capped old men, and wizen old ladies laden with shopping from the Mercado da Ribeira. The bottom of Elevador Gloria is just north of the tourist office on Praca do Restadores. It is another mini funicular, rewarding you with great views over Lisbon from the viewpoint just up the hill from the top stop.
All elevadores use a standard bus/tram ticket, one ticket up one ticket down, which you can buy on board with the exception of Santa Justa which has a ticket office at both entrances. Exact change is more or less obligatory.
From journal Lisbon, My Home for a Year