Our 4th apartment in Lisboa discovery mode was near the Amoreiras shopping center, I knew the area was more on the business/residential side - which I was looking for after a 10 day stay in the very fun (but loud) Alfama neighborhood. As usual, I started researching on places to explore. I'm an avid walker, so I was excited to be near (15 minutes by foot) to Parque Eduardo VII. My hopes were soon dashed as I read what a disappointing park it was on Tripadvisor.
Parque Eduardo VII
I've got something to tell you, TripAdvisor was WRONG! Not just a little wrong - seriously wrong. This park is AWESOME! I could see this becoming my daily walking spot if I lived in Lisboa. Let me break down why I loved Parque Eduardo VII so much.
Marques de Pombal Square: ca 1934: Adães Bermudes and António Couto, Francisco Santos, Simões de Almeida, and Leopoldo de Almeida.
This 118 ft tall monument stands in the middle of a plaza at the end of Avenida Liberdade, and right before the start of the park. It's impressive to say the least. The first register of the sculpture is filled with turbulent, tense scenes depicting the earthquake. A male nude struggles to hold up columns of a crumbling building. An octopus encroaches on land as it is taken there by violent waters. The next register shows scenes of order, growth and commerce. A strong woman pulls along cattle as a man next to her carries the harvest. A man behind her plows the land, and a young man carries a cornucopia. A large figurehead in the front of the group holds the Portuguese shield. Above her, a female nude triumphantly draws the eye to the top of the monument, where a bronze sculpture of the Marques stands victorious with a lion. There is much more to the monument, so go and enjoy it, but make sure to bring sunscreen and a hat. There is no covering here. Also, be careful crossing the street to see it. It's a pretty major intersection and cars tend to go fast around the roundabout.
As you stare up from the Marques monument, your eyes are led up to the top of the park by way of a green strip of geometric gardens. I found them lovely, but I can see how people may find them dull. There is also no covering from the sun here, so walk up on the side where there is sporadic shade from trees.
My favorite spot at the park is the Estufa Fria. It's an eight hectare greenhouse that was erected around 1930 by architect Raul Carapinha. It is so big that there are actually three greenhouses here. Before getting there, you will note a lake with tons of fowl. Follow this into the building with the unremarkable facade. This is the entrance and largest part of the greenhouse; the estufa fria. One can easily get lost here. It can also be a workout if you want it to be, and if you want to get to the Estufa quente which contains the greenhouse's tropical plants. There is also a estufa doce, which houses cacti and succulents.
25 of April Monument: João Cutileiro
If you're crazy like I am and make it to the top of the hill, you will reach a small esplanade with four large pillars and a fountain that commemorates the Revolution of 1974. This spot also has a gorgeous view of the Tagus river and the city. The fountain kinda looks like an ejaculating phallus...but maybe my mind is in the gutter today. You can judge for yourself.
Jardim Amália Rodrigues
This garden, dedicated to the famous fadoista Amalia. It's also got a mother and child by Fernando Botero (I was born in Colombia - so I got a little excited at this). At this park you will find some food trucks, an amphiteater of sorts and Eleven restaurant (1 Michelin Star).
There's a cute little cafe here with a sort of lake filled with fish. When I visited the Lisboetas brought their dogs here for a "swim". I loved this! They've got light snacks and cocktails.
O Segredo: ca 1961 Lagoa Henriques
I could not help but think of the LGBT struggle while looking at this sculptural group. I'm not really sure if the artist meant for this to happen, but it did. I did some reading, and the sculptor was quoted as saying "It is not a piece made to order. Did it for me, was made to play a daze". The secret can be anything, and I think it is up to the viewer to figure it out. Make sure to peek into these gorgeous ladies.
Carlos Lopes Pavilion: ca 1923: Guilherme and Carlos Rebello de Andrade and Alfredo Assunção Santos
This is one of those places that breaks your heart. As you look at it, you can imagine the splendor that once was and you ache at the ruin it has become. This white and ochre building was erected for the 1923 Rio de Janeiro Expo, and was brought back and rebuilt at the park in 1932 for the Portuguese Industrial Exhibition. It became a meeting place, concert and sports hall. It has fallen into disrepair. If you go to the front door, you can sneak a peek at the gorgeous, but dilapidated interiors. Outside of the building are some of the prettiest tile paintings in the city. The azulejo panels were made by Jorge Colaco, and the sculptures by Raul Xavier.
***Update: This was being renovated in late 2016.
Female Nude: ca 1958: Vasco Pereira da Conceição
This piece breaks my heart. I cannot understand why people decide to vandalize art. I understand anger at the government, but I cannot understand why people feel the need to deface art. I wonder if this was disenfranchised youth, or a stupid tourist. It is not ok to deface art. I hope that people continue to visit Lisbon and spend more money there so that at some point, once the country bounces back financially, there is enough money to pay this young lady some well deserved attention. She reminds me of early Etruscan sculptures, and some of Picasso's work from the early 1920's. I love that she is corpulent and thick and beautiful If you're at the park, stop by, take some pics and give her some love so you can bring this lovely lady some more attention. She deserves it.
Tips for Visiting Parque Eduardo VII
1. Sun Protection: Unless you're walking on the sides of the park, you will need massive sun protection. This means high grade sunscreen and a hat.
2. Comfortable Shoes: The park is on one of Lisbon's hills. Wear comfortable shoes to make the climb more comfortable.
3. Explore: You will find this park boring if you just stay on the center of the park. Go off route and check out all its hidden gems.
Where to Eat at Parque Eduardo VII
You can certainly picnic at the park, but if you don't feel like lugging your picnic basket uphill, there are plenty of options for you:
1. Pizza Kiosk: If you're towards the bottom of the park, there is a kiosk that sells pizzas (€8), salads (€7), soups (€2) and toasts (€4). There are tables with umbrellas.
2. Food Trucks: At the top of the hill, right behind the 25th of April monument, by the amphiteater of Amalia Rodrigues, there are food trucks selling burgers, Japanese food, etc.. There's no covering here, so this is more your grab and go place.
3. Linha d'Agua: This is all the way at the top of the park at the Amalia Rodrgigues garden. It's got a good cocktail list and sells light snacks and pastries. Great spot. This would be my pick.
4. Eleven: You can't just walk into this joint. It's got one Michelin star, so if you want to go here, make reservations. I didn't go during my first trip, but I finally got to visit in 2016. They have a great lunch deal at €35. The meal did not disappoint.
5. Restaurante Botequim Do Rei: Typical Portuguese food with a view. Dishes cost around €14.
6. El Corte Ingles: Not technically in the park, but about a block away. The supermarket downstairs has tons of places to eat. The eateries on the top floor leave a lot to be desired, so skip those.
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