Architectural highlights for Lisbon.

Image of Lisbon's Sé (Cathedral) by kruder396

There's relatively little original pre-18th century architecture left to admire in the city centre, due to the devastating earthquake of 1755. The most notable of the few major monuments that did survive (albeit with later restoration work) are the Romanesque Sé (cathedral); the Igreja de São Vicente de Fora, built by the Italian Renaissance master Felipe Terzi in the early 17th century; and his other work, the Igreja de São Roque. The best testimony to the earthquake itself are the formidable Gothic ruins of the Convento do Carmo in the Chiado district.

Image of Igreja de São Vicente de Fora by detengase

The most outstanding architecture is found at Belém, about 6km west of the city centre. Here is one of the country'’s finest expressions of the Manueline style. Nothing could possibly match the Manueline'’s imaginative flourish but, in terms of flamboyance, the baroque style surpassed it. Financed by the 17th-century gold and diamond discoveries in Brazil, and encouraged by the extravagant Dom João V, local and foreign artists created baroque masterpieces of mind-boggling opulence, notably the massive Convento do Mafra.

Image of Convento do Mafra by Rosino

A hallmark of the architecture at this time was the awesome use of talha dourada (gilded woodwork), which was lavished on church interiors throughout the land. Lisbon’'s finest examples are inside the Igreja de São Roque and the Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Madre de Deus. It was only when the gold ran out that the baroque fad faded. At the end of the 18th century, architects quietly returned to a classical style (exemplified by Mateus Vicente de Oliveira'’s Palácio de Queluz, 5km northwest of Lisbon).

Image of Palácio de Queluz by Apparent

After the 1755 earthquake, even more simplicity followed. The Marquês de Pombal invited architect Eugenio dos Santos to rebuild the city in a revolutionary new ‘Pombal’ style marked by plain houses and wide avenues. Walk through the Baixa district and you'll see Pombal's influence everywhere. A similar architectural opportunity was recently given to Portugal’'s greatest contemporary architect, Álvaro Siza Vieira, who restored the historic Chiado shopping district following a major fire in 1988.

Image of a Chiado street by José Goulão

A believer in ‘clarity and simplism’, Vieira’'s expressionist approach is clearly reflected in his most notable Lisbon project (originally built for Expo ’98), the Pavilhão de Portugal in the Parque das Nações. The Parque boasts other stunning contemporary works, including Peter Chermayeff'’s Oceanário and Santiago Calatrava'’s extraordinary, wave-like Gare do Oriente.

Image of Gare do Oriente by miguelb

The ‘postmodern’ Amoreiras shopping complex, designed by Tomás Taveira, is among notable city-centre pieces. A fine Lisbon example of the need to preserve historic buildings, at the same time as making them functional, is the headquarters of the Association of Portuguese Architects, which combines an original neoclassical facade with a contemporary interior. The city’'s most bizarre engineering feat is the Elevador de Santa Justa, built in 1902 by Raul Mésnier (a colleague of Gustave Eiffel), while the 18km-long Ponte de Vasco da Gama is the most recent and stylish engineering accomplishment.

Image of Elevador de Santa Justa by Jason Turner

More cultural highlights can be found in the Lonely Planet guide to Portugal

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