Portugal, with its warm Mediterranean air and aura of artistic peace, has been a favorite dream of romantics throughout the world. Lisbon, its capital, is an outstanding mix of old and new; one district was once the heart of the arts in the sixteenth century while another is a sophisticated, sleek blend of modern architecture and old school ambience.
Virtually every palate and sensibility can find something to be intrigued by throughout Portugal, but especially in Lisbon itself. Bairro Alto
, for instance, offered a safe haven for artists throughout the sixteenth century, and gave them an opportunity to explore their bohemian roots at every turn. Sleek, cool bars as well as open patios feature people of all ages, enjoying the mildness of the Portuguese nights and a rich glass of European spirits. The main commercial districts include Rua do Norte, Rua da Atalaia, and Rua do Diario de Noticias and are frequently bustling with surprisingly laid-back but eager activity.Chiado
, a nearby neighborhood, is elegant, and features a wide range of theatres, cafes and bookshops. While a good portion of the district was destroyed as a result of a 1988 fire that ripped through the area, the neighborhood was rebuilt and is busier than ever. Relics of the previous neighborhood remain; statues of literary greats Fernando Pessoa, Luis de CamÕes, and EÇa de Queiroz remain as a solid reminder of what the region once was. It is, however, one of Lisbon's most beloved neighborhoods; with its stylish shops and friendly cafes, in addition to the fashion outlets of designers such as Ana Salazar
, it's no surprise that the region continues to be a strong draw for residents and tourists alike.
Up the hill from Bairro Alto and Chiado is Principe Real
, perhaps known best as Lisbon's gay district, due to its numerous gay bars throughout the neighborhood. It is also known for its interior design and antique shops, as well as some of the most impressive 19th century architecture. There are some of the most peaceful spots in the city in this neighborhood, such as PraÇa das Flores.
In short, Lisbon offers something for just about everyone, while still maintaining its old world charm. It is multicultural and offers residents and tourists alike an opportunity to explore the wonder that is Portugal.