Julian Nazar is a student at the Soka University of America. He is an ISA Featured Blogger and is studying abroad with ISA in Granada, Spain.
My time in Lisbon couldn’t have gotten off to a rockier start. I found myself dashing out the door of my hostel to meet up with my tour group which had left an hour ago. As I fumbled with my phone in an attempt to put the address they had sent me into google maps, I couldn’t help but laugh at my own misfortune. Once I finally got myself together, I made my way through the suburbs of Lisbon completely fixated on my phone. It wasn’t until I arrived at Rossio, Lisbon’s town square, where I was taken aback by the fountains and the magnificent column of Pedro IV.
Of course, at the time, I was in no state of my mind to truly appreciate these marvels. After spending a couple of minutes in this square, I quickly entered Rua Augusta street. While walking along this street, it was impossible not to take in the positive vibes coming at me from all directions. Whether it be the several Portuguese families joyfully chatting on my left, or the multitude of colorful street performers and vendors on my right, it was quite something to behold. In particular, something that really stuck out to me was the spectacular performance of a street dancer who had been donning a Michael Jackson outfit while moonwalking to Billie Jean. You can’t make this up.
It wasn’t long until Arco da Rua Augusta soon appeared in my line of sight and I had spotted my group. This grand arch had served as a backdrop to a parade of military tanks that had organized on the street the day of the Carnation Revolution. On the 25th of April 1974, a military coup toppled the longstanding authoritarian dictator António Salazar. Remarkably, this was one of the very few coups in human history that ultimately resulted in the peaceful conclusion of a dictatorship. One could definitely note an air of importance and pride emanating from this quarter of the city. After passing through the arch, I arrived at the last stop of my improbable journey, Praca do Comercio, which is located alongside the Tagus River.
Being one of the most important squares in Lisbon as well as one of the biggest squares in Europe, it came as no surprise that opponents of the authoritarian regime collectively organized here prior to the conclusion of the dictatorship. It is also important to note that this square previously housed the King’s palace until the city was rocked by a devastating earthquake in 1755. Following this traumatic event, the new palace was ordered to be constructed away from the water and main square. Staring into the Tagus River, my mind was buzzing with all the newfound knowledge I had just accumulated. However, what remains seared into my memory to this day, is the colorful mosaic of buildings one sees from Miradouro De Sao Pedro De Alcantara viewpoint. Lisbon truly is a vibrant city in all senses of the word.
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