Whenever I visit Lisbon evenings tend to find me at Miradouro das Portas do Sol, quietly drinking a beer or a coffee and writing up my experiences of the day whilst taking in the glorious view. It’s very easy to reach, take the number 28 tram. It’s the stop after the castle.
‘Portas das Sol’ literally means ‘doorways of the sun’ and refers to sunset. It is a wonderful place to come in the early evening and watch how the setting sun changes the colours of the water and the rooftops. I think each time I have had the same feeling of ‘now I am really here’ once I take my place beside the Tejo and feel the warm river winds caress my skin.
The light here is extraordinary. The terrace is dotted with palm trees and is spacious and wide. Sitting on the seats of the cafe that probably boasts the best view in Lisbon you gaze across Alfama to the boats on the water and beyond. From here you can see the magnificent structure of São Vicente de Fora Church. I love watching people’s faces as they reach the summit of the hill from the castle and realise what they have stumbled upon. Despite the many tourists that arrive here, few seem to spend time really taking in the atmosphere: a quick snap and they are gone as they spy the steps leading deep into Alfama.
There is a statue of St. Vincent who guards over the terrace and Lisbon. He is the Patron Saint of Lisbon and in his hands he holds a boat with two ravens. Perhaps it’s why I like this place and feel protected here; I’ve always had thing about ravens. They are healing birds and powerful medicine.
Just beside the cafe is a long veranda that juts out to offer a perfect place to stand and catch your breath. As usual on my last visit, the first evening found me here. I felt curiously emotional. A lone busker played intricate guitar as I stood by the rails looking out over the water. I was blessed with a few minutes where it was just me, him and the river and I let the feeling of saudade roll over me. It is moments like these, in the most romantic of places, when it is hard to stand alone. Without a lover’s hand to grasp, I sent my heart out over the water and hoped for just a moment he knew I was thinking of him.