While I didn’t quite fall in love with it the way I did the Bairro Alto or the Alfama, the Baixa neighborhood – the heart of downtown Lisbon – was an integral part of my time in the city. My hotel was located in the Baixa, and over the course of my weekend there, I found myself crisscrossing the neighborhood’s squares and wandering down its streets time and again.
When I think back on the Baixa, I’ll think of watching the crowds of people – tourists and Lisboetas alike – make their way through Rossio Square, of seeing plumes of smoke rise from the carts of chestnut roasters in Praca de Figueira, of admiring the grandeur and color of the stately buildings, and of wandering down the length of bustling Rua Augusta to get to the waterfront. Here, a few photographic highlights of my Baixa exploration.
If there’s one thing I took away from Lisbon, it’s that the city is gritty pretty. By that, I mean – it’s gorgeous, but a little rough around the edges, a little lived-in. Its buildings have ornate facades and beautifully-colored walls, but they also have cracks and chips and a bit of dirt and grime. In a way, I found these imperfections refreshing; all that wear and tear means that people are really living their lives here, and that the city isn’t merely some perfectly-preserved tourist spectacle. And all these things held true in the Baixa, where a series of lively squares and streets contained all the gritty pretty Portuguese charm you could ask for.