It’s an honour for us to share the story of this sociologist, who we’ve often followed, and with whom we’ve learned so much on guided tours of the most unusual places in this city. In Lisbon in Us by Guilherme Pereira he transports us, with knowledge and poetry, to the Lisbon of many different times that overlap like “mil folhas” (“thousand sheets”, a Portuguese pastry).
Lisbon is more than my birthplace and my “lifeplace”: it’s the city I’ve chosen to settle down after having lived and worked in 5 European and African cities.
Because my roots, memories, family and friends are here. In the other cities I was a foreigner, an outsider.
And for a few years now, my passion for this city has been growing. It grows the more I discover and the better I know the city. Its History, Geology, Geography, Urbanism, its living and immaterial Heritage – the experiences of its inhabitants, its festivals, customs, practices, its stores and workshops, (or what is left of them), the list goes on. The only snag in this unique city: the high seismic risk!
I’ve learned to like Lisbon on Sunday walks with my father, seeing the landscapes, locating buildings and points of interest in the distance. Then I’ve discovered its corners and places, making up this puzzle, and there’re always new places and streets to discover. It’s endless.
Next was integrating the different planes of knowledge: the valleys that gave rise to avenues, the events that took place in the same place in the course of Time.
For example: the Alcântara node, the entrance to the 25 Abril bridge, was until the 18th century a beautiful bay where the stream empties; later in the 19th century it had a bridge and today the river is channelled underneath.
In this place, the first encounter of Nuno Álvares Pereira against the Castilians took place and in 1580 the only combat against the Spanish Habsburgs occupation, the “Battle of Alcântara”, and many more events we discovered according to time and theme. Then there were landfills, factories, workers, railways, markets, roads, and today cars and more cars… Depending on the times, there was a dominant urban function for the same place. The history of a place is like a “thousand sheets”, just dig!
More: Alcântara – means “the bridge” in Arabic, as there has been one since the 2nd or 3rd century. In the 20th century, it gave place to the first bridge that crosses the Tagus River in Lisbon! The places (some) have a vocation? What is the espiritu loci – the spirit of the place – of the Romans? How to (sense or) feel it?
However, the most beautiful Lisbon is in its origin, in the Roman period, from the 1st to 3rd century. It lays on an amphitheatre on the Castelo hill, in Alfama, facing the Tagus River, turning to the creek, later made in landfill in what is now Baixa (downtown Lisbon). It had two streams – Arroios (today Almirante Reis Avenue) and Valverde (today Liberdade Avenue) that bathed the meadow that was then Rossio Square-Figueira Square-Martim Moniz Square…
One day with the Time machine, we’ll be able to travel back to that primordial and undoubtedly the most beautiful time of all: Olisipo Felicitas Augusta, the happy young city where some lucky merchants exported to Rome and the rest of the Empire, from its planted riverside villas, which were at the same time home-warehouse-office! “What a good life it was in Lisbon”!
|Lisbon in Us by Guilherme Pereira|
|Mini introduction||Born in Lisbon in 1953, sociologist, surveyed traditional stores of Downtown Lisbon and Chiado between 2008 and 2012 for GEO (Lisbon studies office) and since then he has been carrying out tours about Lisbon for the Lisbon City Council.|
|An inspiring place||S. Jerónimo chapel in Restelo.|
|An unmissable visit||Lisbon seen from the Tagus River, by boat, (or at least from the South bank)|
|His mouth waters with…||A June night, by Lisbon Festivities in Alfama, watching the moonlight reflecting on the Tagus River, seeing the happy people walking, singing, dancing.|
|A song…||Lisboa Menina e Moça sung by Carlos do Carmo|
O barco vai de saída, from the album Por Este Rio Acima by Fausto
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