Published by Diogo Belo on 13/Sep/2016
The Bairro Alto de São Roque, or for many simply Bairro Alto, is one of the greatest tourist symbols in the city of Lisbon, due to its restaurants, Fado houses, bars and clubs. It holds in its orthogonal streets and old facades, a centennial whisper, irresistible to a tourist going out to discover Lisbon.
Bairro Alto, different from the rest and true to itself, breathes during day a characteristic and cozy environment with the street esplanades welcoming passersby as an authentic invitation. Sit down, relax and enjoy the delicacies that the cuisine of Lisbon has to offer.
By nightfall, a metamorphoses takes place in this tranquil neighborhood. The sun sets, the street lamps light, the Bairro Alto wakes up and night gains life. The violas and Portuguese guitars are tuned, voices are warmed up, and Fado invades the souls and spirits of those enjoying a repast in Fado houses of Bairro Alto.
Outside, friends and strangers gather together in large groups in the bohemian streets with a beverage in hand in mild conviviality. This, is by far, one of the characteristic traces of Bairro Alto. The Praça Luís de Camões, meeting point of people, is filled with a fun background life that will head towards the bars in the vicinities. An unintelligible blend of sounds takes over the main streets - Rua da Atalaia, Rua do Diário de Notícias, Rua da Barroca and Rua da Rosa – in a mixture of conversations in good moods, guffaws, laughter, and languages never before heard brought by tourists which greet us with their visit to Bairro Alto!
Map of Bairro Alto
The leisure offers at Bairro Alto de São Roque are mostly located in four parallel streets, Rua da Atalaia, Rua do Diário de Notícias, Rua da Barroca and Rua da Rosa.
Close to the beginning of Rua da Rosa there's at Rua da Bica de Duarte Belo, the famous Ascensor da Bica. It's operanting since .
All the restaurants, Fado houses and bars are available in these main arteries or in the adjacent streets and close their doors in the following times:
- Sunday to Thursday: at 2:00 am
- Friday to Saturday: at 3:00 am
- Clubs: at 5:00 am or 6:00 am
Another leisure polo is Teatro do Bairro that opened in at Rua Luz Soriano.
Here, is developed the project of Companhia Teatro do Bairro. With the purpose of boosting the theater, facilities are also used for more than just theatrical production, as a cinema theater, concerts hall and space for gatherings where ideas of very different themes are debated.
Points of Interest
Praça Luís de Camões or Largo de Camões
The Praça Luís de Camões, commonly known by Largo de Camões, is one of the places of inseparable relation with Bairro Alto. Despite not being situated at Bairro Alto, it is the convergence point between it, Bairro de Santa Catarina and Bairro do Chiado. It is also known as place of convergence of people, where friends assemble to later head towards the interior of Bairro Alto for another party journey throughout bars.
In the center of the square, the Monumento a Camões. Authorship of the sculptor Victor Bastos inaugurated in , the statue of the poet Luís Vaz de Camões in a pedestal seems to bless the nights of passersby who roam around here and follow their way. Highly appropriate, for according to history records, the talents of Camões weren't strictly in the literary field and actively proliferated by the good worldly customs.
Garden of São Pedro de Alcântara, Viewpoint of São Pedro de Alcântara and Glória Lift
At the junction of Rua de São Pedro de Alcântara with Rua Dom Pedro V, we have the Jardim de São Pedro de Alcântara garden and the best panoramic window to Lisbon. This is, without any doubt, one of the most beautiful perspectives over the city. Latticed railing boldly perched over the Portuguese capital, the Viewpoint of São Pedro de Alcântara offers a privileged view over Baixa Pombalina. On the opposite side, on top of Colina do Castelo hill, the Castelo de São Jorge castle announces itself as a patriotic symbol of the nation and birthplace of Lisbon.
Right beside the viewpoint, the emblematic Ascensor da Glória runs Calçada da Glória since , being classified as National Monument in . It makes the connection between Praça dos Restauradores and Rua de São Pedro de Alcântara.
Church of São Roque and Cardaes Convent
The Church of São Roque was erected in at the current Largo Trindade Coelho. It is side by side with the Museum of São Roque and belonged to the Jesuits for almost 2 centuries. In , for divine protection of Lisbon against the black plague, the King D. Manuel I ordered the construction of a hermitage as a place of cult to a relic of São Roque imported from Venice. On this same place, would be built the church.
It had begun the veneration to São Roque at Bairro Alto and the hope of eradicating the black plague was strengthened.
The Cardaes Convent was built in the 17th century by the command of Dona Luísa de Távora to house the Ordem das Carmelitas Descalças. Lovers of religious and decorative art will find at nº 127 of Rua do Século a collection worth of being visited.
At Cardaes Convent, the work initiated in the 19th century is still carried on, to welcome people with multiple disabilities. This is a nook of tenderness and kindness in Bairro Alto de São Roque.
Museums in Bairro Alto de São Roque
The Museum of São Roque is located side by side with the Church of São Roque, at Largo Trindade Coelho. The religious art is in exhibition since and, amidst the decorative pieces and jewelry, exists a relic involved in mysticism the allegedly had belonged to the Saint himself!
By entering Rua do Grémio Lusitano, near to the Church of São Roque, you'll find at nº 25 the Masonic Museum. Opened since with the guidance of Grande Oriente Lusitano (a Masonic obedience), this space allows common people to know a bit of the Portuguese masonry, widely known organization, ironically, by its syncretism and hidden purposes...
The Museum at the Headquarter of Liga dos Combatentes is a much smaller center when compared with the Combatant Museum at Forte do Bom Sucesso, Avenida de Brasília. However, if you're passing through Bairro Alto and curious about the time of the Colonial War, head towards nº 18 of Rua João Pereira da Rosa and enjoy from weapons to military uniforms and decorations.
- Underground car parking of Praça de Luís de Camões (paid)
- Covered car parking at Calçada do Combro (paid)
- Underground car parking of Rua da Misericórdia nº 20 (paid)
- Metro Station
- Cais do Sodré Train Station. Follow up to Rua do Alecrim to Praça Luís de Camões.
- Cais do Sodré Terminal. Follow up to Rua do Alecrim to Praça Luís de Camões.
Foundation and Historic Evolution of Bairro Alto de São Roque
The Lisbon of the 16th century presented itself as a dynamic city and full of life. Departure port to the overseas land and arrival place of numerous trade routes, the urban growth of the city became inevitable. Thus is repealed the official territory planning preventing any construction outside the Muralha Fernandina.
On , Lopo de Atouguia formalizes an agreement with the landlord Bartolomeu de Andrade and his wife Francisca Cordovil, to the subletting of the lands outside the Muralha Fernandina. The land plots that go from Rua do Loreto until Travessa da Queimada, are divided into orthogonal parts.
Thus started the construction of Bairro Alto de São Roque that in the beginning, to honor its founder and booster, was named Vila Nova de Andrade.
In the first instance, Bairro Alto was occupied by the rich bourgeoisie, merchants and knighthood attracted by the solar exposure of excellence and the revolutionary orthogonal lines as opposed to the current erratic medieval architecture in the city center.
In , the urban growth of the neighborhood already counted 408 constructed buildings and about 1600 inhabitants.
In the year , the Bairro Alto de São Roque was already inhabited by 8679 people. Two years later, the Jesuits settled in the upper area, next to the Church of São Roque. The Jesuit influence in the neighborhood grew and in , Ana Queimado, heir of an enormous fortune, ceded lands to the triune friars at the bystreet that would bear her name – Travessa da Queimada – for the construction of nobility dwellings.
In the beginning of the 18th century, public theater plays put the (would be) famous actress and singer Luísa Todi into the spotlight and the house of Almeida Garret at Rua da Barroca was the scene of staunchest liberal debates.
In the Bairro Alto de São Roque escapes without major damages from the great earthquake that would force the rebuild of the most part of Lisbon.
During two centuries the social fabric of the neighborhood remained true to itself and came to be inhabited 15 palaces simultaneously.
In the beginning of the 19th century, a darker facet takes care of this historic neighborhood and with the sound of Fado in the taverns and brothels of a neighborhood underserved by the authorities, there are sat at the table people of various social strata, from the bandit to the gentleman, they all take advantage of the penumbra to satisfy vices and vagaries, away from the eyes of the world. From on, the Bairro Alto became one of the three areas of Lisbon where prostitution could be legally exercised.
In the second half of the 19th century, the Press takes the facilities of multiple inhabited and unused palaces to install itself at Bairro Alto. In Palácio Marim-Olhão, at Calçada do Combro, worked the newspapers Revolução de Setembro and A Batalha, the Palácio dos Viscondes de Lançada, at Rua do Século, welcomes the newspaper O Século and the former Palácio dos Condes de Atalaia, at Rua da Atalaia, welcomed the sports journal Record.
Already in the 20th century, the Bairro Alto de São Roque housed 13 of the 20 most important press newsrooms in Portugal during the period of the 1st Republic. Currently, the sports journal A Bola is the only newspaper to remain in the historic neighborhood.
In the late years of de seventies and beginning of the eighties emerged the opening of bars and clubs in Bairro Alto, making it one of the most important nightlife centers of Lisbon. This connotation is currently firmed with the always lively weekends, the absence of car traffic in the center of the neighborhood and a large influx of tourists in search of fun and leisure in the city of Lisbon.