And if you take a walk in Parque Eduardo VII it will take you a while as it is the largest park in Lisboa at 26 hectares. That’s about 25 sport fields (the ones with a 400metre running track). so unsurprisingly the climb to the belvedere might take you a while. However if you make it you are rewarded by the views of Lisboa. I thought it simply glorious looking down the hill to the busy Marquês de Pombal roundabout and then across the city roof tops across to the Rio Tejo.
The park is a late 19th century creation but its name and many of the statues reflect key moments in Portugal’s history. The statue at the bottom commemorates Lisboa’s re-birth following the 1755 earthquake. We didn’t try and get closer because of all the traffic however if you are more adventurous than us then you will apparently find at the foot of the monument broken blocks of stone and sculptures of tidal waves symbolising the effects of the earthquake. On the top of the many lamp-posts you will spy sailing ships, remembering the Age of Discovery, and at the top of the park is a monument by Portuguese sculptor João Cutileiro commemorating the 25th April revolution. It is his sculpture which encourages you to keep climbing you the hill. It isn’t that it is steep its just that the top keeps moving away as you walk up! The other sculpture which you cannot miss when you get to the top is the bronze mother and child by Colombian artist Fernando Botero Angulo.
And as for the name. The park began life as Parque da Liberdade but was renamed within a few years to Parque Eduardo VII. The new name was created in 1903 following the visit of King Edward VII to strengthen the Anglo-Portuguese alliance. His visit was clearly successful as not only did the Portuguese name a park after him, a few years later the alliance was drew the Portuguese into the First World War. And whilst the Portuguese remained neutral in the Second World War, it was thanks to the alliance that the Allies were able to use the Azores as a base.
I didn’t know any of this though when we explored the park as it was photographs of the views that had persuaded me to walk here from our apartment. Nor did I know this would be the first of two King Edward VII parks I would visit this year. I wish I had done a bit more research though as if I had we would have visited one of the main attractions at the top. There are three greenhouses, of which one Estufa Fria is apparently huge, and so it along with the other two – Estufa Quente and Estufa Doce – will definitely be on our list when we return to Lisboa next year.
We did though spy the pavilion on the eastern side of the park. Originally built as Portugal’s exhibition pavilion for 1922-1923 World Expo in Rio de Janeiro, the pavilion was rebuilt here in the early 1930s for use as a concert hall and sports hall. In 1984 it was renamed in honour of Carlos Lopes, a marathon runner who won Portugal’s first ever Olympic gold medal, but since 2003 has been closed and gradually fallen into disrepair. I read somewhere, but for the life of me cannot recall where, that there is a plan to turn into a hotel, but given the state of dilapidation, the current financial climate and the fact I’ve been unable to find anything else on the plans I’m not sure how likely that now is.
PS Did you notice my title – yup it’s a Six Word Saturday! Wishing you all a very happy Saturday, and whatever you are up to I hope it is as fun and easy as a ‘walk in the park’.