Joaquim Antonio de Macedo.

A guide to Lisbon and its environs, including Cintra and Mafra ... online

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Online LibraryJoaquim Antonio de MacedoA guide to Lisbon and its environs, including Cintra and Mafra ... → online text (page 8 of 27)
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advantages it ah'eady possesses.

Nota de embiirciU'oos ji varicdjulc,
Huiiias de tr;ito,s da maior riqueza :
Outras que toiii inaii)r felicidade
Em sirjeitar do iiuindo a rcdondczii.
iSe adverten d'ossc jmrto a magestadc,
Conheceras que o iuitor da, iiatureza
O fez capaz do inuitt) que antevia
Que largo mar aqui tributaria.
(Ulyssippo, cant, xiv — xxii.;

The city is generally described as built like ancient
Rome on seven hills, but the skeptical inquirer Avill iind
it as difficult to ascertain their names as those of the
seven sages of Greece. No doubt the description was cor-
rect in former times, but at present the city has out-
grown its classical proportions and covers a greater
number. The Castello do S. Jorge, Clraca, Nossa Senhora
do Monte, Penha de Franca, Cam[)0 de Sant'Anna,
Buenos Ayres, Chagas, Santa Catharina, S. Vicente,
and S. Roque are now all within its walls.

The panorama which ])reseuts itself to view on en-
tering the Tagus is acknowledged by all to be of sur-
passing beauty, and its effect may be said to be ma-
gical on the poor voyager who has for days previously
been deprived of the sight of land and gazed upon no-
thing but sky and water.

(,)n rounding cape Kock, the villages of Cascaes. Car-
cavellos, Oeiras, and Paco d'Arcos, nestling in orange
groves of emerald and gold, successively come into view,
with the rugged mountains of Cintra in the distant
background, crowned with the fairy-like palace of
D. Fernando, whilst on the opposite side of the river
aVe the blue bleak Arrabida moimtains strcaching along
the horizon to cape Espichel and in the foreground
the lishinc: village of Trafaria.

Approaching Belem the first vie^v of Lisbon is obtain-
ed. The graceful tower of Beknn, Avhich marks the spot
where Vasco da Gama landed on his return from the
Indies, at once attracts attention. A little further on is
the famous Jeronymite convent founded by Dom Ma-


nucl the Great, in commemoration of Vasco's discovel'-
ies" higher up is the church of the Memoria, and the
huge unfinished palace of Ajuda (now tlie residence f»f
the Royal family), backed by verdant hills covered with
a host of busy windmills.

Proceeding up the Tagus we pass successively the
Astronomical Observatory, standing in the midst of a
large enclosure or cerca of olive trees; the industrial
subiu'b of Alcantara, with a few tall mill chimneys of
brick suggestive of England; the asylum for disabled
sailors, standing prominently forward, while further
back on the brow of the hill is the palace of Necessi-
dades, occupied by the king's father Dom Fernando.
Next comes the palace of the Marquises of Pombal,
lately the residence of the Empress of the Brazils, and
rising above the roofs of the houses, the dome of the
Estrella is plainly visible.

Passing the new boulevard called Aterro da Boa Vista,
over which in bold relief stands the church of the Cha-
gas, we come to the very heart of the city the Praya
do Commercio, or Black Horse Square, surrounded by
the government offices of uniform architecture, built
over a spacious arcade. Facing the water is the trium-
phal arch of Rua Augusta, and in the center the splen-
did equestrian statue of Dom Jose I. On the right of
this principal square is the Custom-house, and on the
left the Naval Arsenal. Further E., on the acclivity of
a hill, appear the square towers of the old Cathedral,
and on the summit of the hill is the Castle of St. George,
while still further east may be seen the church and
convent of St. Vincent, the incomplete uhras de /Santa
Engracia and the Railway station.

It is impossible to describe the charming eifcct ]yvo-
duced by the tout ensemble, especially when viewed
from the middle of the river at early morn. When the
sun rises the Avhole city appears lit u]) with ten thou-
sand sparkling lights, the reflection of the azidcjos or
glazed tiles, with which the exteriors of many houses
are lined, and Avhich present the appearance of being
studded with gems.

The S. side of the Tagus or Oidra Banda has quite
another aspect, and consists of a chain ol vine clad hills

AND GENeHaL view. 83

cKtendlug" as far as Caclllias, opposite the Arsenal,
Avherc the bank makes a l)end towards the SE. form-
ing a spacious bay called Cova da Piedade, but known
to Eiiiiilish tars by the less euphonious title of « Jackass
Bay». The river here is some 4 miles wide, and four
^•un boats are moored in front of the Custom-house to
form a square within whicli all vessels having i^ratique
must anchor and nobody is allowed to visit them with-
out an order from the customs authorities. Vessels arriv-
ing from infected ports have to anchor in front of the
Lazai'eto, opposite the tower of Belem.

The best general views of Lisboa are obtained from
St. George's Castle, N. S. do Monte, the Penha de Fran-
ca, the Graca, the dome of the Estrella, or from Al-


The generic names applied to the thoroughfares of the
capital are Rua a street, Travessa a cross street, Cal-
cada, a steep street, and Beco a street without any
outlet or cul-de-sac. As a rule the streets are tortuous
and narrow, especially in the ancient quarter of ^4//'a7??a,
A striking exception in this respect is the hnver part
of the city called the Bai.i-a, where the streets are all
of a fair width, perfectly straight, and intersecting each
other at right angles. This distinction is owing to the fact
that the great earthquake of 1755 so utterly ruined the
whole of this district that every house had to be rebuilt
from its foundation, and the ]\Iarquis of Pombal, at
that time the all powerful minister of D. Jose I, availed
himself of this circumstance to improve and widen the
streets and introduce uniformity into their architecture,
though it is much to be lamented that lie did not pay
more attention to sanitary requirements. Indeed the
Baixa may be pointed io as a true exemplification of
Pombal's character.

In the hard straight lines and rectangles, in the uni-
formity of the elevations, and in the celerity with which
the work was accompli.-ked, arc evinced the energetic
despotism of the unliending ruler, combined with the
statesman's sense of public utility, but when we closely



analyze the internal construction of the houses we find
them wanting- in those sanitary arrangements which con-
duce to the health and hap])iness of the individual fa-
milies, shewing that while Pombal effected great public
improvements, he lost sight of those higher and more
important interests on which depend the real prospe-
rity and happiness of a nation.

Long and tortuous as are many of the streets them-
selves, they are not more so than the names by which
they are known, tho' in inverse proportion, that is to
say, the shortest streets have the longest names e. g. Rua
da Porta do Carro do Hospital Real de JS. Jose, Tra-
vessa do Aharracamento da Cruz do Tahoado, Rua de,
Santo Antonio da Praca do Convento do Coragao de

Nor do the Lisbonites rest satisfied with the elongated
nature of the names, but still further to puzzle the un-
fortunate foreigner, they never fail to speak of their
streets by the vulgar names, and not by the official
names written up at the corners. Thus Rua Bella da
Rainha is invai-iably called Rua da Praia. Rua Nova
de El-Rei is much better known as Rua dos CapelUs-
tas, indeed the majority of the inhabitants are acquaint-
ed only with the vulgar name. The following are the
principal streets and squares rejoicing in this double
nomenclature :

Official name. Vulgar name.

Rua Nova da Princeza. Rua dos Fanqueiros.

Rua Bella da Rainha. Rua da Prata.

Rua Aurea. Rua do Ouro.

Rua Nova de El-Rei. Rua dos Capellistas.

Rua de S. Juliao. Rua dos Algibebes.

Rua da Conceigao. Rua dos Retrozeiros.

Rua dos Correeiros. Travessa da Palha.

Rua dos Sapateiros. Rua do Arco do Bandeira

Praga de D. Pedro. Rocio.

Pra9a do Commercio. Terreiro do Pa90.

Pra9a de Alcantara. Pra^a de Armas.

Most of the vulgar names are the names of trades
and had their origin in the regulations of former times


when persons carrying on a certain trade were com-
pelled to occupy shops in a certain street. Thus the
goldsmiths were exclusively in the liua do Ouro and
the silversmiths in the Rua da Praia, etc.

Nearly all the streets are paved with small hard
stones which render thick soles essential to the comfort
of the pedestrian. The Calcadas arc mostly macadam-
ized to prevent the horses slipping and it is astonish-
ing to see how safely they are driven at full speed down
the steep inclines.

A few streets, principally in the Baixa, have flagged
causeways for foot passengers but they are of little use
in wet weather, none of the houses having fall pipes, but
being constructed so as to drip the eaves water on to
the heads of the passers by.

The architecture of the dwellings is in general plain
and inelegant. The too numerous windows are inva-
riably surrounded by clumsy stone frames projecting
slightly from the walls and appearing to form part of
the window rather than of the wall, so that the piers
look nuich narrower than the openings, producing an
unpleasant effect; and in some buildings the Avindows
are so close to each other that the Avhole front seems
one immense window. Asuhjo^ a kind of Dutch tile,
generally blue and Avhite (whence the name) is also ex-
tensively employed for lining the exteriors and presents
a very neat appearance, besides having the advantage
of keeping the walls cool by reflecting the rays of the
sun: in fact the whole construction of the houses in Lis-
bon is with a view to lessen the inconvenience arising
from the tropical heats of summer, so that during the
short interval of winterly weather they arc cold and

On comparing the houses built two or three centuries
ago with those of to day, little difference will be found
except in details: they are constructed with greater
solidity than in England and (what may appear para-
doxical to strangers) it is not uncommon to see a house
roofed in before the walls are built. On account of its
liability to earthquakes the houses of Lisbon are first
erected in skeleton composed of timber on which the
roof rests, so that in the event of a violent shaking the


outer walls can fall to the ground and still leave the
house standing. They arc generally three or four stories
high, sometimes even ii\(! or six: the dwellings are in
flats with a conniion staircase for G or 8 families and
the rents decrease as the elevation increases. This system
bl'ihgs the different classes of society into constant con-
tact, for it is not unusual to see a fidalgo occupying the
first floor, a doctor the second, a tradesman the tliird,
a clerk the fourth and a seamstress the fifth, Avitli a
cobbler in the staircase.

There is no fashionable quarter occupied solely ];y the
rich as in England : the nobleman's palace and the poor
man's cottage stand side by side. The system of letting
is somewhat peculiar. Houses are uniformly let by the
aemestre or half year, from the 1.''* of January to the oO."'
of June, and from the l.'^* of July to tlie end of Decem-
ber. The rents are often paid in advance, but even this
is not considered sufficient security by soiue landlords
who insist on having a fiador or bondsman, to answer
for any damage the tenant may do to the ])roperty dur-
ing his occupancy. Wlien the tenant Avishes to leave,
instead of giving a written notice to his landlord, he
sticks square pieces of Avhite paper called ef^criptos in
all his windows on the 20."^ May or Dec. On these
dtas de por escripfos all the people in the streets may
be seen walking about with upturned faces, and running
against each other, so intent are they on satisfying their
curiosity as to who is removing and who is not.

Many of the streets are so narrow that carriages can-
not pass each other and a notice is posted up at the
entrance prohibiting the transit of vehicles, except in
one direction, and the opposite neighbors can sit at
their windows and talk scandal with the greatest fa-

A geiuu-al o])inion ])revails amongst untraveled En-
glishmen tliat Lisbon is preeminently a dirty place, and
nothing has done more to perpetuate this erroneous be-
lief tlian Lord Byron's reference to it in « (Jhildr- I larold » :

But whose entereth within this toAvn,
That sheening far cek'stial seems to be,
Disconsolate will wander up and down
31id many things uusigtlily to strange ee,


Whatever foundation for this charge tlierc mif^ht have
been in the poet's time, it certainly cannot be brou;;ht
against the Lisbon of the pre^■ent day. The streets are
well drained and clean ; the scavenger's cart going round
every morning to remove the refuse from the houses. No
doubt before these sanitary measm'cs were introduced
it was not very safe to venture along a narrow street at
night, for the only means of getting rid of the refuse
was by pitching it out of the Avindow, and woe to the
unhappy pedestrian who neglected the warning, often
too tardily given, of agua vae, to apprise him of the
coming shower of solids and liquids mix(!d, emitting
an odor less agreeable than powerful and characteristic.

The thoroughfares are all lighted with gas, and the
tourist may wander about at all hours of the night with
as much or more safety than in any other capital in
Europe, and without being subjected to those impor-
tunities Avhieh lie v.'ould be liable to in the large cities
of England.

The police force consists of three bodies independent
of each other: the cjuarda munici'pal is a military force
composed of infantry and cavalry selected from the
flower of the army, and is at the orders of the min/'stro
do reinOj or Home Secretary. Next comes the policia
civil, corresponding in organisation with our huhhy, a
body of civil policemen armed with a short saber and
an aj)ito, or Avhistle wherewith to sunnnon the assistance
of their companions : these are under the orders of the
fjovernador civil. Lastly come the ccd)OS de policia, si-
milar to our Constable, who are appointed by the re-
gedor de parochia, an authority elected by the parish-

One of the dangers aggravated by very high houses
and the system of Hats, is that of tires, which are of
constant oecurreuee and often prove disastrous froni
the rapidity with which they sprciul owing to the large
"amount of wood employed in the buildings and the diffi-
culty of escape from the top stories. Lideed tlie casual-
ties woidd be deplorably great were it not for the
admirable organisation of the lire brigade. *^hould the
tourist remain some time in Lisbon he is sure to be start-
led from his sleep by the hurried tolling of the church


bells. The city is divided into 22 districts, each repre-
sented by a certain nuinljer of strokes varying- from
11 to 32. On the iirst alarm of fire, the police hasten to
the nearest church, and ring- the prescribed number of
strokes by means of a rope fostened to one of the bells
and terminating- outside in a small box, to Avhich they
have access at all hovu's. This signal is repeated thrice
and the other churches take up the alarm, so that in a
few minutes the whole capital is made aware of the
existence of the fire and the precise district in which it
has broken out. The fire brigade is composed entirely
of aguadeiros or water-carriers, who are nearly all cjal-
legos or natives of Galicia in Spain. A certain number
of them are attached to each chafariz or fountain, and
no- one else is allowed to sell water. In consideration
for this mono]j(jly they are obhged to a})p(!ar at the fire
with their barrels on the first alarm, under pain of fine.
They are also obliged to have their barrels full of water
on retiring- to rest, to be ready in case of need. The first
30 who arrive at the scene of action receive an extra
reward, and the whole of them must continue their ser-
vices as long- as the fire lasts, running backwards and
forwards with ant-like industry. In many parts of the
city bomhas or fire engines are stationed, worked also
by the aguadeiros, and there is a 1.** and 2.'^^ prize
for those which are earliest on the spot, and a picket
is sent by each regiment quartered in the capital. Th(^
signal is repeated at intervals for a small fire, but when
the confiagration assumes vigorous proportions the bells
after tolling- the number of the district continue with an
indefiaiite nmiiber of strokes in quick succession which
is termed re])icar. AVhen the fire has been subdued
three strokes are given as a signal that no further as-
sistance is required.

The gallegos are not only the water carriers and fire
extinguishers, but also the general drudges of the ca-
pital, and meet Avith the same unmerited contemjit which
is bestowed on the poor Irish laborer in England. They
are a most hard working- and frugal race of men, lit-
erally the « hewers of stone and drawers of water » .
Many of them are small landed proprietors in their own
country, possessing a patch of ground with a cow and


pig. To escape liability to military service and be allow-
ed to emigrate they get married and quit their country
a few days after the eca-emony, leaving their wives to
look after the home concerns. After years of toil in for-
eign cities they manage to scrape together a small pit-
tance, and then return to thtiir native village were they
spend the remainder of their lives in agricultural pur-
suits. The. number of gallegos in Lisbon is upwards of
3,000, and they do most of the hard work, especially
porterage. It is sm-p rising to see what heavy weights
they can carry suspended by a rope from a strong
wooden bar resting (jn a horse-shoe-shaped collar called
a chinguico, placed on their sliolders, as they trudge
along in pairs, out of step, to neutralize the oscillation
of their bodies. This mode

Online LibraryJoaquim Antonio de MacedoA guide to Lisbon and its environs, including Cintra and Mafra ... → online text (page 8 of 27)