May 18th-International Day of Museums

     We are very excited around here at Lisbon Stories! Tomorrow is the International Day of Museums. We love what we do, so this date is just a good excuse to visit our stunning monuments  and museums yet another time. The best of all: for free!!

     The date is celebrated worldwide and the best of all is that this year, May the 18th is a Saturday, so there is a full weekend to be planned starting tonight. Yes, you read it well; many museums and monuments throughout the country will be open at night, holding different cultural events, music concerts, guided tours, etc…

     If you are around Lisbon I would suggest taking a walk around the Chiado quarter, in the center of the city, in the evening and then head off to one of the nearby museums open at night such as the Archaeological Museum of Carmo or the more modern Museu do Chiado.

    However, anything goes as the different programs include special guided tours, dance and acting performances, workshops for families and many, many activities more. The Portuguese institution that runs the public museums in Portugal (IGESPAR) has a full program of the weekend which you can see here.

   It is in Portuguese, but we are happy to help you with the translation. Just send us an email and maybe we can meet in one of the museums. Don’t miss out all the fun!!

The Holy Spirit celebrations

     There is a beautiful catholic commemoration in Portugal that even non religious people love to attend. It is what we call the Divino Espírito Santo (or Divine Holy Spirit) and it is a festivity that is held for around 700 years now and was started by a queen.

     Isabel was a Spanish dame who came to marry the Portuguese king Dinis in the 13th century. A devoted spouse and profoundly religious, Isabel was known by her good will and charity. She was said to be so good that she was considered a saint a few centuries after her death.

     Queen Isabel had a special devotion for the Holy Spirit and the Pentecost which are a symbol for purity at heart, of God’s kindness in every man. In the Spanish region where she was raised, big festivities were held to celebrate them, 50 days after Easter. When she brought this tradition to Portugal it was a huge success from the very beginning

     The celebrations started taking place in the towns owned by the queen such as Óbidos, Tomar, Alenquer and others. The rituals included a procession in honor of the Holy Spirit with a child taking the lead and everyone dressed in white and barefooted, even the queen. The poor would be given meat and bread and their feet would be washed by the wealthier as a sign of humbleness.

     These rituals haven’t changed much since those days and this is still a very important tradition in certain regions, such as the Azores where it is a way of bringing the communities of the 9 islands together. It is one of the favorite religious festivities in Portugal as it celebrates the best in the human being.

    If you have some time, come next weekend and see for yourself what I am talking about, I am sure you won’t forget about it.

To beer or not to beer

     Along with wine, there is another drink that we also can’t go without in Portugal: Beer. Before the Roman Empire, the people living here almost 2000 years ago, the Lusitanian, already produced a very basic type of beer only out of water and fermented barley.

     Romans didn’t care much for beer nor did the Moors who later invaded the peninsula. Only during the Christian crusades, some 1000 years ago; beer production was once again common. The knights from central Europe, who came to help the Iberian kings in battle, would be granted lands where they would plant cereal in order to produce their traditional drink: beer.

     It became popular but a serious threat to wine production as it was considered a cheap, low quality kind of drink, produced in private cellars. In the 17th century the first beer factory was built and only during the 19th century the production of beer was widespread.

     It was the monks in their convents who had the best breweries and produced the best quality beers. After the extinction of the religious orders in 1834 the monks had to find themselves jobs so they started selling their excellent beers out to the general public.

     Beer had been already adopted as a national drink by then and the first “cervejarias” were established. These were simple restaurants selling fresh sea food and tender beef steak sandwiches with different types of beer. We still love them and they are the perfect spot to get to know the real deal as far as Portuguese beers are concerned.

    Today, the most popular brands and types or beer are… coming out on our next post.  I will just let you waiting, mouth watering!

Outjazz – Our Jazzy Lisbon

     As you might have guessed by the name, Outjazz is a Jazz Festival and yes, it is out in the open.

     As the sun starts to shine, in Spring time, Portuguese people start to find excuses to spend as much time outside as possible. We have coffee outside, we eat outside, we go to the beach, we jog… and we attend music festivals.

     This Festival has been held since 2005 and it was a huge success from the very beginning. Why? The concerts take place in some of the most fantastic locations in Lisbon.

     View points, terraces, gardens, monuments, public parks all of them and many others will welcome various bands and solo performers every Friday and Sunday throughout the next 5 months. This year besides the usual food and drinks stalls, there will also be street markets, selling handicrafts and other items.

     Do you know those hot afternoons when you’re tired of touring around and just feel like relaxing a little bit? Well, it looks like we’ve just found you a little excuse to do so.

Find more about it, as well as the program, here.

     We’re terribly sorry that the program is not in English. Feel free to contact us if you need a little help with it. Anyway, “Sextas” means Fridays and “Domingos” means Sundays. The writing in bold is the location so, go ahead and google maps that.