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Chaido & Bairro Alto

Posted: 16th May 2014 11:52


Chiado is an affluent quarter of Lisbon, its shabby chic reputation was under threat when in 1988 a huge fire swept across Baixa and wiped out many of the old shops found here.  Luckily the area was rejuvenated and the bohemian atmosphere has been successfully salvaged.  The redevelopment was undertaken by eminent Portuguese architect Alvaro Siza Vieira. 

The soul of the district can be found in Rua Garett, this is a hipsters paradise as fashionable shops are weaved in-between old cafe-tearooms.  The most famous of which is Cafe A Brasileira, thanks to its many visits by generations of Lisbon’s literary and intellectual leaders.  Igreja dos Mártires (Church of the Martyrs) is on a street that occupies the site of the Crusader camp during the Siege of Lisbon.  The church was later built on the site of a burial ground created for the English contingent of the besieging army.  Music recitals are often held in the church, of which are often advertised in the local press or online.

The history of the region can be traced back to Roman times, but it came to prominence during the 14th century when King Fernando I, between 1373 and 1375 built a city wall that laid the foundations for what we see today.

Bairro Alto

High above the central city the narrow 17th Century streets of Bairro Alto can be found.  A languid way of life is woven into the regions fabric with a very quiet and alternative feel about the place.  The churches Convento do Carmo and Igreja de Sao Roque are bohemian mainstays full of character and charm.  It’s when night falls however that this quarter starts to come to life, with many of Lisbon’s best bars, restaurant and fado clubs waiting to be discovered here. 

Highlights include Rua da Misericordia a maze of cobbled streets, where the buildings are a canvas for graffiti artists to liberally express themselves.  Whereas Rua do Norte and Rua da Rosa have a good collection of cool boutique stores selling retro-inspired clothes with unusual local design and Brazilian imports.  Many of the shops found here open at around in the late afternoon and stay open until midnight. 

You can arrive into Bairro Alto via two amazing feats of engineering in the form of its wonderfully crafted trams, which were originally powered by water displacement, and then by steam, until electricity was introduced.  Rather efficiently, the Elevador da Glória, built in 1885, links the quarter directly with Praça dos Restauradores, departing from just behind the Palácio da Foz tourist office.  The Elevador da Bica reaches Rua Loreto at the foot of the Bairro Alto.  

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