Estrela, Lisboa - Portugal

Estrela, Lisbon

The present parish of Estrela, in Lisbon, is a short area of this beautiful city, characterised by a dynamism, cultural and religious diversity truly compelling. Estrela adds the old parishes of Lapa, Prazeres and Santos-o-Velho, ranging from the riverside through the Basílica zone. The parish of Estrela owes its name precisely to the Estrela Basilic, a convent built in honor of the Holy Mary of Estrela, in 1572, where today the Hospital Militar Principal is built.

A recent study indicates this area of ??the city as the second most exclusive in Lisbon, chosen for housing site by higher income households of upper-middle class. All time this area was chosen by the most distinguished and wealthy families, today there are still palaces which belonged to those families. The Estrela area is one of the most central places in Lisbon, being located in the heart of the city. The Parliament, the São Bento Palace and the official residence of the Prime Minister are located here.

This is of course an area with many historical buildings and great heritage value, highlighting beyond Estrela basilic, the Convento das Bernardas, the Chafariz da Esperança, the Palácio das Necessidades, the theater Casa da Comédia, the building of the Rua das Janelas Verdes, the São Francisco de Paula church, the Convento das Trinas, the Lapa Small Palace, the Viscondes de Sacavém Small Palace, the Conde de Agrolongo Small Palace, the Conde de Óbidos Palace, the São Bento Palace (official residence of the Prime Minister), the Marquês de Abrantes Palace (headquarters of the French Embassy), the National Museum of Ancient Art, created in 1884, which has forty thousand exhibits representing real national treasures. On this Art Museum, the works reflect the Middle Ages and the birth of Contemporary, collecting the most relevant set of sculpture, painting and goldsmithing works. Guided tours available on site are one of the best options to meet the grandeur and importance of European, African and Eastern origin pieces of art housed in this museum, among many other interesting features.

The Orient Museum was founded in 2008, aiming merge the West and the East in one place showing art, the knowledge and the relationships between these people. The inspiration in the Portuguese navigators and in Asian works of art show the diversity and genius of this project at a European level. This museum promotes an encounter between two remote cultures, focusing on understanding and harmony through art, culture and trade leaving aside the war, intolerance and discrimination. A link was created through the works displayed in this museum assigning a value to art and to the upper story to present differences in both worlds, harmonising and exalting its positivism and constructive content.

Still regarding the Estrela Basílica, we can catalog the Basilica as an important religious building and a very important framework prepared and ornate just likhe the Mafra Convent, brilliants examples of the Baroque late artistic style, with the introduction of some Neoclassical elements. The construction of this building was the result of a promise of the Princess D. Maria Francisca, who decided that if she bore a male child, she would proceed to the construction of a convent. The design of this monument was projected by Mateus Vicente de Oliveira and later on Reinaldo Manuel did some modifications, which made of a simple design an elaborate and ornate construction. The grand interior paints were made by Pompeu Botoni and Pedro Alexandrino. The Basilica has two magnificent bell towers and, on the inside, a crib made ??of cork and terracotta consisting of 500 pieces in its entirety.

The Calçada da Estrela is another reference poit, preserving its original look and exhibiting some buildings dating back to the nineteenth century. At the end of the Calçada there is one of the most splendid square of the city: the Largo da Estrela. The five streets in this square, which is close to the São Bento Palace, seems like a star, giving it the name Largo da Estrela, which means Star Square. Starting in this calçada, the Estrela neighbourhood has grown and achieved a considerable surface in the XIX century. Currently, the parish of Estrela occupies 3% of the Lisbon's surface, and it includes 5% of all city buildings, counting with 2879 residential buildings, and accomodates 9325 families, being a residential area par excellence. Due to the presence of a lower number of elderly people, this parish has a smaller percentage of ageing people when compared to the rest of the city. Estrela is the main point of government business in addition to housing a large number of embassies including Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, Luxembourg, Romania, Ireland, Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Indonesia, China, UK and Canada. São Bento Palace occupies about 2 hectares of the entire São Bento Convent area, having undergone several renovations during the Marcello Caetano period, after the April Revolution in 1974, but the building facades weren't touched. Next to it, there is a palace built in 1877 where the Prime Minister resides, the Office of the Prime Minister and the Parliament. This site serves as a meeting point for the Portuguese Parliament.

Being a residential area par excellence, there are various infrastructures that provide residents a very high quality of life, such as green zones that give people the possibility to enjoy tranquility and leisure time outdoors. Along the Tagus River there is also a marina that enables lovers of marine life to appreciate the river and its characteristics. The Tapada das Necessidades Garden is one of the most important green areas, built by D. João V, and also the Estrela Garden, another magnificent space to discover. The Estrela Garden was built in 1852 by the Tomar Marquis. The gardeners responsible for planting this romantic English-style garden, where we can find the Antero de Quental statue, were João Francisco and Jean Bonnard. It is mainly in the summer that this nature place flowers and cheers to be visited by a large number of people.

For nature lovers, the Tapada das Necessidades garden is a place to visit and enjoy. Some important events have took place here and there has been a large influx of Lisbon's population as well as people from other places. The "Out Jazz" is an example of this success. The place has an artistic and environmental greatness and imposing as a forgotten historic charm. This garden is situated in a quiet area of the city and has an area equivalent to 10 football stadiums. The magnificent view and a must-see natural beauty of the Tagus River are great references of the capital. Besides the life quality and the excellence of housing, tranquility and peace are also on focus regarding Lisbon's assets.

For children there is a playground, which is part of the Estrela Garden, with appropriate games from babies to adults relying on lions, giraffes, tunnels, climbing and various activities that ensure fun for all, especially for the the youngest ones. This site boasts a rich fauna and flora and a pleasant environment for those who want to do some exercise or to breath fresh air. The Estrela Garden has got several cafés, kiosks and terraces. For literature lovers there is also a kiosk-library.

Being a central area of ??the city, access and accessibility to public transport are simple and easy, either by bus, or by the traditional Lisbon's Elétrico, or by car, which enables quick access to the major commercial areas of the city, as well as the largest university centers and schools. However, the parish of Estrela has some of the best colleges, schools and universities, including the Institute of Visual Arts, Design and Marketing and the Escola Superior da Educação João de Deus. Safety, of course, is a priority. Considering the existence of several government buildings and several embassies, in addition to the fact that Lisbon is a very safe capital where violent crime is almost nonexistent, Estrela area benefits from a large safety.

Estrela is also a reference regarding various sports activities. Regarding the skating, Estrela has the Lisbon Skating Association; about the martial arts, fitness and self-defense, Estrela has the Jui Jitsu Academy and the Portuguese Association Aikishurendojo, nonprofit, working to disseminate culture, education and Aikido sport, and whose instructors and athletes have already travelled to Japan.

The IDN - Instituto de Defesa Nacional (National Defense Institute), also located in this parish, develop a strategic action of thought related to security and national defense, providing a meeting platform for the various valences, security institutions and national and social defense.

"why are you searching in vain for your star in the sky. Go and put it there." words written by the author Vergílio Ferreira who left us a book entitled "A Estrela" or "The Star".