As arches go, it’s quite impressive—but the real reason it’s on my Lisbon top ten list is for the breathtaking 360° panoramic view from the top.
First, a bit of history.
The magnificent Arco da Rua Augusta provides a grand entryway to the city of Lisbon from the Praça do Comércio (the Square of Commerce), a port of call on the Tagus River. The arch was built to commemorate the rebuilding of Lisbon from the ashes of a devastating earthquake in 1755.
French sculptor Célestin Anatole Calmels created the allegorical group of sculptures at the top, representing Glory rewarding Valor and Genius.
To get to the top, there’s an elevator that takes you part of the way. Then narrow winding stairs lead to the tip top, via a clever system of red light, green light.
If there’s a green light, the coast is clear. You press the button before embarking into the stairwell to turn on the light red at the other end, indicating that you are en route, and thereby avoiding a head-on collision with someone coming the other way.
And then you emerge onto the top of the arch and gasp at the view.
This is the view all the way up Rua Augusta.
And down onto the Praça do Comércio and the River Tagus.
You can see the Castelo de São Jorge (Castle of St. George) above the rooftops.
And the 12th century cathedral on one of Lisbon’s countless hills.
Get up close and personal with the sculptures of Genius and Valor, being crowned by Glory.
You’ll take too many pictures, because the assemblage of terra cotta roofs on the hills is so charming…
And if you zoom in on the Praça do Comércio, you can see children gathered around the bubble vendor.
Okay, that’s optional, but I couldn’t resist.
I’m just saying.