Basílica da Estrela

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Basílica da Estrela

A standout on Lisbon's skyline, this gleaming white basilica was built in the baroque and neoclassical styles, and its location at the top of one of Lisbon's seven hills makes for dramatic views from its rococo zimbório (dome). It was built at the end of the 18th century under the command of Queen Maria I (whose tomb lies within the building) to fulfill a religious promise she made in praying (ultimately successfully) for a male heir. The interior is striking, too, with black-and-pink marble walls and floors, and a famously elaborate nativity scene. Displayed year-round, the scene comprises some 500 figures and was created by the scupltor Joaquim Machado de Castro. Just across the road is the leafy Jardim da Estrela, one of Lisbon's loveliest green spaces. Stroll the shaded paths and then pull up a chair in the café for a drink or a snack. Estrela is a short walk west of Largo do Rato, where the metro's yellow line terminates. You can also take the scenic route on Tram 28 from Praça Luís de Camões in the Chiado neighborhood; you'll pass through the São Bento district, dominated by Portugal's grand parliament building (yet another former monastery) on the way.

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