LISBOA DESAPARECIDA
and many other books about PORTUGAL's capital
make MARINA TAVARES DIAS
the most successfull and talented
historian of LISBON.
Here is the first attempt to
tell you our stories
in English.
From LISBON TO THE WORLD

quinta-feira, 27 de março de 2014

THE BEAUTIFUL AND LOST CENTRAL MARKET OF LISBON

THE PRAÇA DA FIGUEIRA MARKET

by historian MARINA TAVARES DIAS


« Praça da Figueira (Figtree Market) was one of Lisbon's tourist attractions in the 1900s, appearing on countless illustrated postcards of the time. It was Lisbon's central market place, set up in this locality following the 1755 earthquake. In 1849 it was decorated with wrought-iron railings and given eight large entrance doors. The stalls or «halles» were built in 1883. Each of the main façades was composed of three sections and at each corner there was a tower with a dome. Although it was demolished in1949, Praça da Figueira still lives on in the city's imagination. When it was destroyed, the city irretrievably lost its main period piece built of iron and glass. In its place today, Figtree Square (“praça” being a common designation for both “market” and “square” in Portuguese) carries on bearing its name and its many 
memories. [.../...]»




  Lisbon's Central Market, demolished in 1949


                                                     The empty square nowadays (2014)





Photos by: MARINA TAVARES DIAS ARCHIVES

domingo, 16 de março de 2014

FADO – THE SONGS ABOUT FATE


«The fado was born one day/ When hardly a breeze was whispering/ And the sea merged into the sky/ In the tacking of a sailing ship/ In the breast of a sailor-boy/ Who was singing in his melancholy» – so goes the poem written by José Régio and sung by Amália Rodrigues. The real origins of Lisbon’s traditional song are probably much more recent than the era of the Discoveries. There is no written record of the fado before the 19th century. Its melody, which is thought to be the successor of the «lundum» danced by black slaves in Brazil, follows a four-line stanza where each line has a 10-syllable count. But aboveall, it reflects a state of spirit, sad and nostalgic, that Lisbon has made its own. During the 19th century, the fado (the song about fate) was sung all over Lisbon, from Calçada de Carriche to the flat-bottomed boats of the River Tagus, through the taverns of Bairro Alto and the narrow streets of Mouraria. The poignant plucking of guitars was heard in Arco do Cego and in Madre de Deus, in Lumiar and in Laranjeiras, in the Quebra-Bilhas tavern and in the bullring at Campo de Santana. The fado was sung markets, in brothels and in palaces.»

LISBOA/LISBON/LISBONNE/LISSABON - A sua história para os turistas / for the tourist who loves History, book by MARINA TAVARES DIAS, 1992.

1825. The sailor's goodbye



terça-feira, 4 de março de 2014

THE FAMOUS LISBON CAFÉS

Once it was enough to go inside any of Lisbon’s cafés to get to know the city well. Each and every generation of politicians, artists and writers sat at their tables,  During the mid 19th century, these coffee houses were the meeting places of the privileged and only someone who felt completely at ease with the fashions of the day and the latest literary intrigues would ever be bold enough to enter. The most famous cafés flourishing at the time in the elegant quarter of Chiado, were the Marrare do Polimento (Marrare's Polished-Mosaic Café) and the Café Central. In 1845, two of the most well-known cafés near Rossio (Praça D. João da Câmara) were the Café Suisso (which disappeared in 1954) and Café Martinho (closed down in 1969).

by MARINA TAVARES DIAS



The famous Café Martinho facing the Rossio
train station
(not to mistake with Martinho da Arcada), 
destroyed in 1969, and its successor: yet another bank

segunda-feira, 3 de março de 2014

PRAÇA DO COMÉRCIO - TERREIRO DO PAÇO – BLACK HORSE SQUARE

LOST LISBON: 
More than tourism, 
but simple to follow and learn 
when you are there.

by Lisbon's main historian:
MARINA TAVARES DIAS


« [...] Although Black Horse Square has been called Praça do Comércio ever since the 18th century, there are only a handful of Lisbon residents who do not know it by its former name, Terreiro do Paço, meaning the Palace Grounds. Before the great earthquake which destroyed Lisbon on the morning of November 1st, 1755, it was on this wide space of beaten earth (terreiro) that the royal palace (paço) was situated. 


The chronicles inform us that some of the most valuable artistic treasures of Europe were to be found inside the palace. However, nothing was saved in the aftermath of the earthquake when the tsunami and the fire completed the damage. Under the orders of the Marquis of Pombal, Terreiro do Paço was rebuilt from 1758 onwards. Today it symbolises the post-earthquake era of downtown Lisbon, known as the Baixa. Shortly after being baptized with its new name, Praça do Comércio, it was given Lisbon's first statue of a king riding a horse (D. José I by the sculptor Machado de Castro).»

Marina Tavares Dias




domingo, 2 de março de 2014

ROMAN PERIOD LISBON



A city set on the estuary of a river, white when seen from a distance and golden when looking out from one of the panoramic viewing points as evening approaches. Afterwards, narrow and deserted when going down some of its streets and discovering the usual everyday routes, the traffic and derelict sites – scenes of unhappy endings. The Lisbon which fascinated all its victors is, nevertheless, largely unknown.

Situated as it is in a typically Mediterranean environment, Lisbon's origins as a city probably go back to Roman times. It must have gradually grown outwards from the crown of the hill on which the castle was built, its first inhabitants moving downwards in the direction of the river.

«As much as my gaze searches the fortified walls of St. George's castle, I am hard put to find the first traces of Lisbon», wrote Júlio Castillo, whose name is a «must» in any reference list about the Lisbon. Despite his rather disheartening comment, this did not stop him from publishing 18 volumes about the city's early days.

As early as 2000 BC, there were already people living in the hilly countryside around Lisbon called Serra de Monsanto. Later, ancient Greek and Phoenician ships were to make their way up the Tagus estuary and we cannot dismiss the likelihood of Phoenician etymology lying behind the word «Lisboa» (Alis Ubbo – pleasant little bay). Be that as it may, this conjecture is a lot less fascinating than another possible theory about the city's name which was aired in the 15th and 16th century (although, today, we have to admit that it is only based on legend). It stated that Ulysses, the ancient Greek hero, had given the city its name.

After the conquest of Lusitania and Galicia, Lisbon was occupied by the Romans and, in 205 BC, raised to the status of a municipality under the name Felicitas Julia Olissipo.

The Roman part of the city has survived until the present day but is buried three or four metres under existing buildings. Little by little it is being unearthed although it is almost impossible to dig up and show everything owing to the streets built over it at a later date.


The most famous ruins discovered here include a theatre dedicated to Nero built in 57 AD (underneath the intersection of Rua São Mamede and Rua da Saudade at the top of Rua da Madalena), and the portuary facilities in (now under) Rua da Prata, built when Tiberius was emperor. Both sites were discovered as a result of excavations after the 1755 earthquake.


MARINA TAVARES DIAS
text and photo