City

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Welcome to Obidos and Lisbon…

Surrounded by a classic crenellated wall, Óbidos’ gorgeous historic centre is a labyrinth of cobblestoned streets and flower-bedecked, whitewashed houses livened up with dashes of vivid yellow and blue paint. Hill-town aficionados looking to savour Óbidos’ ‘lost in time’ qualities may find the main street ridiculously touristy, especially on weekends and during festivals. There are pretty bits outside the walls too. The main gate, Porta da Vila, leads directly into the main street, Rua Direita, lined with chocolate and cherry-liqueur shops. In recent years Óbidos has been reinventing itself as a literary centre: quirky and very atmospheric, themed book-shops abound and in 2015 it held Folio, its first literary festival, intended to be an annual event.

Lisbon is a city armed with Gothic grit and glamour…

Seven cinematic hillsides overlooking the Rio Tejo cradle Lisbon’s postcard-perfect panorama of cobbled alleyways, ancient ruins and white-domed cathedrals – a captivating scene crafted over centuries.Lisbon’s trademark seven hills are spread across the cityscape like lofty guardians of colour and history. Capped by a collection of terraces known as miradouros (viewpoints), a must-see web of no-filter-necessary views over Lisbon, the Tejo and beyond is formed. Our favourite miradouros – Portas do Sol, São Pedro de Alcântara, da Graça, da Senhora do Monte, Santa Luzia and, of course, Castelo de São Jorge – all offer stunning spots to get your bearings.

Jewish Lisbon and the surrounding area

At the time when the Jews were expelled from Portugal in 1496, there were two important Jewish quarters in the city: the Judiaria Grande, close to the present-day church of Sao Nicolau, in the street of the same name, and the Judiaria Pequena, created during the reign of Dom Dinis (1279-1325), in the place where the Bank of Portugal stands today, in a street parallel to the Praca do Comercio. The Praca Dom Pedro better known as Rossio, where the Court of the Inquisition was held in the Palacio dos Estaus, at the site where the Dona Maria national theatre now stands, built in the 19th century. At the time of the Portuguese Maritime Discoveries (15th and 16th centuries), land in the area of Alfama was owned by a number of Jewish families.

At the end of the last century, several groups of Jews from Gibraltar formed a community that ordered the building of the Shaare Tikva (Gates of Hope) Synagogue. This building of sober appearance, the work of the Portuguese architect Ventura Terra, is located at No. 59 Rua Alexandre Herculano, in the centre of the city.

Several of the most important museums in Lisbon bear witness to the Jewish presence in the city. In addition to its interesting collection of exhibits about the history of Lisbon, the City Museum (Museu da Cidade) in the north of the city has a collection of engravings on the theme of the Inquisition and the “autos-da-fe” that continued to be carried out until the 18th century. Amongst some of the finest paintings at the National Museum of Ancient Art (Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga), one of the most important museums in the country, is the portrait of a 16th century Jew, painted by Grao Vasco. The Paineis de Sao Vicente (the polyptych from St. Vincent’s altar), attributed to the great 15th century Portuguese artist Nuno Goncalves, is a masterpiece in its representation of the different figures of the period, from all walks of life. There are some authors who maintain that in the first panel on the fight the figure seen holding a book is Jewish.