Azara Blog: Lisbon thoughts

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Date published: 2011/10/01

In many European cities, e.g. Krakow, the historic core has received much attention and has been lovingly restored, whereas just outside the core less attention is paid and the buildings look tired. Lisbon seems to be the opposite. The historic core has many buildings that need a serious amount of attention and money spent on them, whereas in the newer districts the buildings seem to be well maintained.

The area around Oriente Station was developed for the 1998 Expo and has all the kinds of modern buildings that are of a high architectural standard. (Although some of the apartment blocks look fairly empty.) And the buildings in the area around the Parque Eduardo VII look similar to the turn-of-the-century buildings of Paris. There is even a replica of a Hector Guimard designed metro station, at Picoas station. So it is odd that the historic core has so many buildings looking so derelict.

One thing that the historic core does have is a nice collection of baroque churches. And it is a bit surprising that the Lisbon tourist websites seem to ignore this feature. They are perhaps not in the same league as the churches in Rome, but they are not far off. There are many trompe-l'oeil ceilings, and many of them also have beautiful wood floors and pews (possibly made from wood imported from Portuguese colonies). The cathedral, surprisingly, is just about the least interesting of the churches, and has a somewhat crumbling interior.

There seems to be a ritual in Lisbon (and possibly elsewhere in Portugal) whereby on the first day of term the older students haze the first year students in public squares and parks.
hazing of students in Lisbon
The older students are all dressed in black suits with white shirts, some with various insignias. The first year students are made to grovel in front of them. It can look rather sinister and it is not difficult to see how societies can fairly easily brainwash their citizens into following orders.

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