The belvedere of Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara sits on the edge of Bairro Alto and offers a magnificent paranoramic view across the city. From here you can see the Tejo, St. George’s Castle, Graça, The Sé and many more famous Lisbon landmarks.
The Miradouro is easy to find. Make your way to Restauradores and take the Gloria Furnicular to the very top (€1.40 at the time of travel in Oct ’08 for a one way trip). If you are feeling energetic of course you could walk up the hill!
Once you reach the top of the hill, walk up the few steps and turn to your right. The Miradouro is there on Rua de São Pedro de Alcântara. At first you see a long tree-lined shady park with benches set along the centre. Walk about half way down and you’ll come to a memorial dedicated to Eduardo Coelho who was the founder of the famous daily newspaper Diáro de Notícias in 1863. The boy beside the bust of Eduardo is of an ‘ardina’ – a newspaper boy who would sell the paper on the streets of Lisbon.
Further down the park there is a bubbling fountain; a wonderful sound in the heat of the Portuguese summer, and a small open air cafe that opens at 10am – perfect for brunch.
Crossing to the main viewpoint there is a large azulejos tile map which points out all the landmarks you can see from here. There are also telescopes for zooming in. When I arrived it was early morning and the park was mostly deserted apart from an elderly man sweeping the leaves and a couple of other tourists. It was incredibly quiet and peaceful.
Gazing out across the view, I looked down and noticed the geometric gardens below. I wandered down the steps into a garden offset by white busts of famous Portuguese figures from history and hero’s and Gods from mythology. Ulysses had managed to keep his head but unfortunately some of the others hadn’t been so lucky!
As well as the view, my favourite part to the lower garden was the waterfall built into a grand archway inside the wall. Water trickles down ancient moss and azulejos and it made me think of a wishing well from a story I read as a child. The whole place has a rather magical feel. There was a lady practising tai chi in the early morning sun and it does seem the perfect place to calm mind, body and soul.
Whilst the Miradouro is quiet in the daytime, be aware that at night it is busier as many people meet here on their way into the bars of Bairro Alto. It is worth visiting in the evening however as the sunset makes the castle light up with a mysterious glow offering some fabulous photographic opportunities of Lisbon by night.
Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara is like a sacred space in the heart of the city with distinct day and night atmospheres. Add it to your list of things to see.