02 September 2005

Architecturally smart


---- Santa Justa Lift // Lisbon // Portugal Sep'05 ----

The lift connects the lower streets of the Baixa with the higher Largo do Carmo (Carmo Square.) Since its construction, the Lift has become a tourist attraction for Lisbon as, among the urban lifts in the city, Santa Justa is the only remaining vertical one, the rest were demolished.

The hills of Lisbon have always presented a problem for accessibility, especially in a time when people were required to move on foot or being pulled by horse (or other animal). In 1874, in order to facilitate the movement between the main Baixa and the Carmo Square, the civil and military engineer Roberto Arménio presented a project to the Lisbon municipal council. A similar project was suggested in 1876, that included raillines that would be pulled by animals, with an inclined plane. Until 1785, this system continued to function in the zone around Carmo.

=> How to get there: Fly to Lisbon from any big city and airline. The local airline, TAP flies to most places
=> Best time to visit: Summer months can be very hot but Lisbon faces the Atlantic so enjoys moderate weather. Go in June for good weather and sunny days
=> Where to stay: Lisbon has all the big hotel chains. I particularly enjoyed staying either by the beach, 30min by train from downtown at Estoril or Cassis, or, for an authentic stay, the Convento do Espinheiro ( in Evora is a beautiful convent converted into a luxury hotel

=> How to get around: take the trams! Lisbon is very hilly so they come in handy. Taxis are not too expensive

=> What to do: Apart from the lifts, Lisbon is a beautiful city to visit. Go up to the castle, walk around the old streets, visit the convent and enjoy an egg tart. If you can, attend a fado session, the local soulful singing

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