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5 good reasons to go to Lisbon
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To see / do
Culture and history
São Jorge Castle gives you perspective in more than one way. This hilltop fortress was built by the Visigoths and occupied by the Moors before being taken siege by Afonso, the first king of Portugal. The ramparts here are an opportunity to contemplate the city, and a guided tour takes you deep into its belly, introducing you to the spirit of the castle and its many mysteries.
Belém: the guardian of the port
On the banks of the Tagus lies the World Heritage-listed tower of Belém. Built in the 16th century to watch over the port, this tower is simply gorgeous, dripping in ostentatious Gothic (and more specifically Manueline) embellishments. Inside, a vaulted room was once used as a prison, arsenal and private chambers.
Built in the Manueline style at the end of the 15th century, Jerónimos Monastery was once where crews setting sail for faraway lands would spend their last night on Portuguese soil in a bid to gain God's protection. The cloisters and church are unmissable.
Foot-tap to the fado
Whether joyous or melancholic, fado is the traditional Portuguese singing you simply have to experience at least once before you leave. Head over to the Alfama or Bairro Alto districts for top-notch singers and the best venues to catch a concert. And don't be surprised if you see locals taking to the stage to join in with the pros!
Lunch at the market
When your tummy starts rumbling, stop off at the Ribeira market. A stone's throw away from the banks of the Tagus, the stalls here display local producers' wares, and long tables are on hand for you to choose whatever you like from the stalls and sit down to eat. The market is open every weekday lunchtime.
Cod with cream
Cod lies at the heart of typical Portuguese cuisine. Try bacalhau com natas, which literally translates to "cod with cream". Alternate layers of fish, cream and potatoes are stacked in a dish and baked in this authentic meal - not to be confused with that other classic, brandade.
Pastéis de nata, or Portuguese custard tarts
Portugal's unrivalled favourite dessert is pastel de nata. These little egg custard, flan-like tarts are made from puff pastry filled with an egg, sugar, flour, milk, lemon and vanilla mix. It's said that the country's best pastéis de nata are made in Lisbon at the Pastéis de Belém café.
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