If you are looking to visit the municipality of Lisbon, you ought to visit the popular neighborhood of Ajuda. Ajuda is one of the most famous tourist destinations in Portugal besides being surrounded by a neighborhood enriched with attractive places to explore. Ajuda is famed for the first botanical garden in Lisbon and one of the oldest ones in Portugal in which a 400-year old tree sits. The neighborhood started as a catholic parish and also hosts a famous historical palace. Ajuda is about 2.88 square kilometers in size and has a population of about 15000 residents.
Having had a brief insight into the basics, let’s now take a look at things to do in Ajuda Portugal.
A visit to Ajuda National Palace
Locally known as Palacio Nacional da Ajuda, the monumental palace is a sight to behold. The castle was started as a royal residence in the seventeenth century and before it officially became a Lisbon museum in 1968. The circumstance that led to the construction of the palace and the unfortunate occurrences marring its development makes its history more fascinating. Ajuda National Palace was constructed as a royal residence up on the hill after an earthquake and tsunami destroyed the former royal palace in 1755.
You ought to have a first-hand view of the impressive appearance of the palace. Besides, the museum is endowed with a beautiful collection of sculptures, paintings, and other artistic works. The extravagant and stunning rooms depict the precious lives and past of the royal family. You certainly will drool over the stunning furniture, chandeliers, mirrors, and the architectural aspects of the museum. Major affairs are still held in the monumental building to date.
Stroll in Ajuda Botanical Garden
Ajuda is home to some of the oldest things in Portugal, and the garden happens to be one of them. Installed as part of the Ajuda Place in 1768, the garden’s collection of plants grew to about 5000 species before the Napoleonic invaders took away hundreds of them. Nevertheless, today you will find species from the former Portugal colonies, including some hundreds-of-years old trees. Ajuda botanical garden overlooks the Tagus river and still stands as a beautiful place where you get to see the Baroque fountain decorated with sea horses, fish, mythical creatures, and serpents. The site is open from 9 AM to 6 PM and you are sure not to miss out of memorable strolls.
A cruise in Tagus River
If you are looking to enjoy beautiful, panoramic views of the Belem and Ajuda neighborhoods, you ought to book a cruise along the Tagus River. The river spans for 275 kilometers in Portugal and drains into the Atlantic Ocean at Lisbon. Tours companies offer morning and afternoon trips, which are relatively cheaper when compared to the sunset cruises. Both children and adults are eligible to pay with the adult rates generally doubling those of the kids.
On the course of the cruise, you may come across the 25 de Abril Bridge which connects Amanda municipality to Lisbon city. You certainly will be amazed by the appearance of the 38th largest suspension bridge in the world with a span of about 2.3 kilometers and an approximate clearance of 70 meters above the Tagus waters. Watching the sunrise and the sunset sun disperse orange rays from the Tagus River is undoubtedly a sight to remain embedded in your memory for a lifetime. Also, don’t embark on your journey back home without having watched the beautiful lights illuminate the de Abril Bridge majestically at night.
A few kilometers from Ajuda is the famous Jeronimos Monastery. The monastery is located in the nearby parish of Belem, some 8 min drive or 40 min walk from Ajuda. The world heritage monument houses the tomb of one of the greatest European explorers, Vasco Da Gama, and was built in 1502 by King Manuel I to commemorate the success of Vasco Da Gama’s voyage.
It was at this site Prince Henry the Navigator came across the sanctuary where Vasco Da Gama and his men prayed before embarking on the journey to India. Other famous European figures such as King Sebastio, King Manuel, and Fenardo Pesso are also entombed in the Jeronimos Monastery. Behold the decorated walls, octagonal piers, beautifully curved columns, and the impressive 1940 garden whose edges are trimmed in shapes of different Portugal’s municipal coat of arms.
Another historical site to visit is the Belem Tower, about 13 min drive from Ajuda. The Tower was built in 1515 as a fortress to watch the Belem’s harbor entrance and was the starting point for many discovery voyages. The tower is recognized as a world heritage monument and incorporates sculptures depicting famous people such as St. Vincent and stonework motifs of the Discoveries.
The monument has Moorish influences such as the visible Moorish watchtowers considering that the architect had worked on some Portuguese structures in Morocco before embarking on Belem Tower. Additional things to behold are the Our Lady of Safe Homecoming statue (a symbol of protection for voyagers) and the arcaded windows facing the Tagus River.
Other Places near Ajuda worth Touring
As mentioned earlier, Ajuda has a neighborhood rich in tourist attractions, some of which have been discussed above. Other nearby places that you might consider visiting includes:
- Discoveries Monument: It incorporates sculptures of historical figures and notable Portuguese monks, explorers, cosmographers, crusaders, and cartographers.
- Coaches Museum: Has the largest collection of the most valuable carriages in the world.
- Belem Cultural Center: Has stunning modern architecture and is a venue for various international congresses, cultural events, and exhibitions.
- Maritime Museum: The museum was built in 1863 after King Luis issued a decree for the development of a museum that would house collections related to Portuguese maritime activities. It is now home to a collection of about 17,000 figures of historical ships and ceremonial barges.
- Memoria Church: a neoclassical domed church that serves as a reminder of the escape of King-Jones I from an assassination plot at the place.
Museu de Marinha: The Navy Museum 1 km / 1 mi
Belem Tower: Lisbon's Fortress on the Tagus 2 km / 1 mi
The National Museum of Ancient Art: Portugal Pays Tribute to the Antiquity 3 km / 2 mi
Jardim Zoologico: World Class Animal Sanctuary in Lisbon 4 km / 2 mi
See Fantastic Sea Creatures At The Lisbon Oceanarium 10 km / 6 mi