What makes Graça so interesting?
Graça is one of Lisbon’s oldest neighbourhoods which can be found at the top of the highest hill in Lisbon, just to the north east of the castle São Jorge. The neighbourhood of Graça is largely residential yet with plenty of attractions for visitors. In the main square the Largo da Graça you will find lots of local businesses such as cake shops, fruit stores and cafes. As one of the highest parts of Lisbon the Graça district has become famous for its stunning view points known as ‘Miradouros’. In Graça you will also find one of Lisbon’s oldest churches and the National Pantheon. Graça is just a short stroll, through winding antique streets, from the more famous Alfama neighbourhood. Some of the attractions often considered to be in Alfama are just as accessable, if not more so, from Graça such as the Feirra de Ladra flea market.
The Miradouro da Graça & Nossa Senhora de Monte
Due to its high location Graça boasts two of the best viewpoints in the city. The Miradouro da Graça is a beautiful terrace with fabulous views over the city and the Castle São Jorge. The Miradouro is just a short walk uphill from Alfama and the Portas do sol viewpoint with views over the river. The Miradouro is located at the back of the Igreja da Graça one of Lisbon’s oldest churches, although much was destroyed in the great earthquake of 1755 the 18th century refurbishment remains unaltered. The church and monastery attached have not been cultivated into a tourist attraction, in fact the monastery is now a military barracks and not open to the public. The church interior is a little dilapidated yet hosts a fabulous collection of 17th century tiles. The Miradouro da Graça has a great open air cafe which in the summer months remains open well into the night and is favorite relaxing spot among the locals. The Miradouro da Nossa Senhora de Monte is the highest viewpoint in the city. Less crowded and more tucked away than the Miradouro da Graça the atmosphere is therefore a little more serene and romantic. It can be accessed from the Largo da Graça the central square of the Graça neighbourhood where you find lots of little shops, cafe’s and restaurants. The Miradouro’s are great places to relax and take in the views especially in the late afternoon or evening. There are plenty of signposts around informing visitors of their whereabouts.
The National Pantheon/Santa Engracia Church
There has been a church building on same site as far back as the 16th century. The earlier structure began to collapse and the building of the current church began in in 1681 and it took a whopping 285 years to complete. The ongoing work in progress saga of the rebuilding has given rise to the Portuguese synonym for long unfinished works ‘Obras de Santa Engracia’. Today the church has been designated the National Pantheon and contains the tombs of many of Portugal’s most important figures including presidents, writers and the famous fado singer Amalia Rodrigues. There are also cenotaphs dedicated to some of the most important Military figures and leaders of the Discoveries. The building was designed by one of the most important Baroque architects of the time João Atunes. The interior is covered with slabs of multi-coloured marble mostly baroque in design and the Baroque organ was brought in from Lisbon cathedral.
The Feira de Ladra Flea market
Located just next to the National Pantheon is the famous Feira da Ladra. Here you will find hundreds of stalls selling all sorts of wares both second hand and new. The name ladro/a in Portuguese is often used to describe a thief although technically the word derives from a bug often found in old furniture. A market of this type is thought to have been in existence here as far back as the 12th century. The market is held every Tuesday and Saturday from dawn until dusk. It is advisable to always barter the price down as the prices have been inflated somewhat due to the number of tourists visiting the market.
Transport to & from Graça
As Graça is situated at the top of the highest of Lisbon’s seven hills it is best served by the tram ride up to Graça is really a fascinating trip through the historical winding streets of Lisbon. It is also possible to reach Graça via Metro for those willing to walk up the hill from either Santa Aplónia or Intendente. Many people find themselves ending up in the Graça neighbourhood whilst taking a stroll through Alfama’s maze of cobbled streets andstairways. A walk through Alfama up to the high point of the city and Miradouro’s of Graça is certainly charming and worthwhile. The famous nº28 tram heads up towards Graça after passing the Castle and through Alfama. T
Parking in Graça
As Graça is largely residential and slightly less city central parking is possible on the streets. Parking in the centre of Graça at the Largo da Graça can still be quite tricky however if you take the car into a side street there are spaces to be found. In recent years the city councils have been trying to organize better the parking as a result there are more strict parking rules in place, it is always advisable to look for signs indicated parking is allowed or prohibited and good look for a continous yellow line that indicates that no parking is allowed before leaving a car anywhere. (that said the lines are often fading away or parked over making it all the more difficult to tell).