The Secret Guide to Lisbon lives up to its name
Secret Lisbon proposes to bring the 'unusual and unfamiliar' of the city to the reader's attention, allowing them to step off the beaten track and discover places that are secret and unknown.
And with over 150 secrets divulged, it does exactly that. In fact, at a time when it is not possible to travel, this guide book makes for such interesting reading on its own merit, that you can just enjoy finding out about Lisbon's secrets, without necessarily having to see them in person.
Lisbon is a popular and beautiful city to visit, and its main sites to explore include the Castelo de São Joao, the Belém Tower, the Jerónimos Monastery and many museums and art galleries. And while these sites are fantastic, it is good to delve beneath the obvious - and that is what you will find with Secret Lisbon.
Laid out by district, the guides are easy to use with maps detailing the location of each entry, with information of how to get there and if an appointment is necessary to visit. The book is written by Vitor Manuel Adrião, a specialist in Portuguese medieval history, who is incredibly knowledgable but writes in an accessible and engaging manor.
In fact, at a time when it is not possible to travel, this guide book makes for such interesting reading on its own merit, that you can just enjoy finding out about Lisbon's secrets, without necessarily having to see them in person.
The secrets revealed include the most beautiful hidden tiles of the city, the head of the serial killer Lisbon preserved in formalin, the Kabbalistic principles of the south portal of the Jerónimos Monastery or the theory of the 5th Portuguese empire of which we find so many traces in the geography of the city, charming forgotten dead ends, the outstanding panoptic architecture of a former hospital, the impressive wax masks from the Dermatology Museum, a secret passage at the hotel Avenida Palace, the mysterious abbey below Palacio Foz, and the reason why the coat of arms of the Portugal is inclined at 17 ° on the facade of the Rossio station.
The Secret guides are said to be intended for both the local inhabitants as well as curious travellers, and I'm sure that many locals living in Lisbon may not be aware of many of the finer points of their city as revealed by this guide. A case in point might be the last entry of the guide, the Village Underground Lisboa, which opened in 2014 at the base of the 25 de Abril bridge. It is an independent cultural centre, but while it may look like a colourful scrapyard, it is home to one of Lisbon's cultural and artistic hubs. The venue hosts workshops for painters and designers who exhibit their work, as well as providing office space for lawyers or a recording studio for a popular DJ. It has state-of-the-art facilities, including a café serving coffee, pastries and daily specials - housed in a typical Lisbon bus.
It is this combination of both modern and ancient secrets that makes this guide stand out. It should be on everyone's research list if they are visiting the city, but the book makes for a fascinating read for those who just wish to know more about this beautiful city.
Vitor Manuel Adrião