We drove into Lisbon today to explore the city and parked close to where tram 28 begins. Like in San Francisco, Lisbon has similar trams famed for their wooden, rattling trams, with their horns constantly warning both pedestrians and cars out of the way. The most iconic tram in Lisbon is Tram 28, which carries both tourists and a few locals up the steep, cobbled streets in Lisbon crossing through various picturesque neighborhoods. The trams date back to the 1930s, although in the 1990s the brakes and electronics were replaced.
We arrived about 10.30 am in the morning to join the long queue, which took about 45 minutes before we were able to get a seat on the number 28 tram, I hate to imagine what it must be like during the summer season. We decided after waiting so long to get on the tram, that we would ride the full length of the trip. Unfortunately it is not a loop, so when you get to the final stop, everybody has to get off the tram and line up again, although it was the same train, we just had to stand up this second time.
We continued walking to the Rua Augusta Arch, (Arco da Rua Augusta) a 19th century arch which is a symbol of the recovery from the 1755 earthquake and tsunami for the Portuguese capital. The arch is made up of six columns, which support historical figures who resisted the Roman conquest of Portugal. At the top of the arch, French sculptor Célestin Anatole Calmels’ colossal figures represent Glory rewarding Valor and Genius.
Also in the Praca do Comercio is the statue of King Jose I riding his horse. King Jose I was the Portuguese ruler during the reconstruction of Lisbon after the earthquake and tsunami.
We continued onto the Santa Justa Lift which opened in 1902 and was originally called the Elevador do Carmo. Apparently when it first opened the Lisbon people were so excited about being able to travel between the upper and lower Lisbon, that 3 000 tickets were sold on the first day. The lift was originally powered by steam, but was replaced by an electronic motor in 1907. The elevator stands at 45 meters and was built by an engineer, Raoul Mesnier de Ponsard, an admiror of Gustave Eiffel, who used similar techniques. Like the tram, the queue was huge, so we decided to admire it from afar and not join the line.
We did the long uphill hike to visit St Jorge Castle, but like everywhere else, there was a long queue and only a short time until it closed, so we decided to skip it and catch the 28 tram back to the car park. One thing we did notice on our trip back to the car was the number of tiled buildings. We had seen the tiled buildings in Brazil and thought it was very unusual, being in Lisbon we can see where the Brazilians got it from.
A single ticket can be purchased onboard at a cost of €2.90. A much better option is to purchase the 24-hour public transport ticket, which includes the metro and all tram and bus services. This ticket costs €6.30 but annoyingly can only be purchased from the ticket machines in the metro stations.
Castelo St Jorge
- Adult: € 8.50 │ Students under 25, people over 65, people with disabilities: € 5 │ Children under 10: free │ Family (2 adults + 2 children): € 20
- Winter (1st November – 28th February): 9 am to 6 pm │ Summer (1st March – 31st October): 9 am – 9 pm
- Closed 24th, 25th and 31st of December, 1st January, 1st May