This weekend, if you passed by Rua da Prata, you probably noticed some people walking up and down from a hole in the middle of the road. If you’re a local, you probably know they were visiting the Roman galleries, if not, you might have thought the whole thing was a bit weird.
Every year you see a huge line of people excited to see this hidden gem. Some people even waited 4 hours and ended up not getting in! Luckily, this year they were smart enough to hand out tickets in advance and avoid this madness all over again.
“6 o’clock sharp – you need to be on this website and a book a ticket” – that’s all I said to Nick, who was completely clueless of what he was applying for. It was only a matter of minutes before the tickets sold out. I’m not even sure how I was so on top of it this year, so I’m sorry if I didn’t share this information with my friends sooner.
To all of you that missed out on it this time, you have the chance to see it again in September, so stay tuned!
They don’t know for certain how long these galleries have been down there or what was the actual purpose of it – our guide said they were probably established around the 1st century BC and might have served as a storage facility at some point. They do know that they were rediscovered in 1770 – two decades after Lisbon’s devastating earthquake – and were used as an underground structure for many buildings in the area and a water resource for several families, before piped water was established in the city.
The reason why they only open twice a year, has to do with all the logistics involved in opening it to the public. From pumping out the water that usually fills up the space, to setting up electricity cables to light it up and of course you need the police to control the traffic outside. They are also concerned the place will be damaged if it’s open permanently, so they keep a device inside to track any sudden changes in the structure.
We were quite early for the visit, so I decided to go see another of Lisbon’s best kept secrets – Pollux.
I probably walked by this place hundreds of times and didn’t have a clue there was a rooftop café inside. In fact, I would never had found it if I hadn’t seen it featured on Instagram the other day.
Rua dos Fanqueiros 276 – google that and you will find a home decor store, but it’s also the main entrance to this hidden café. There are no signs whatsoever until you go inside and spot the elevator. Still, it’s hard to miss that on the 9th floor of this building, you have one of the best views of the Santa Justa Elevator.
Pátio de Dom Fradique
This is one of my favorite places in the city. A random turn when we were coming back from downtown one day, lead us to this quirky little corner.
I’ve seen massive colorful letters, graffiti, abandoned buildings and recently a giant flower cube featured in this Alfama stretch.
Yesterday, we sat for the first time at the café in the corner, which gave me another reason to stop here more often. I also found out there is a 15th century palace in this square which is now a hotel, if I was a tourist you would probably find me here…