While traveling in Lisbon, you can’t fail to notice a wide, tree-lined avenue stretching from downtown’s Rossio Station all the way uphill where it meets a large roundabout with a large statue of a man and a lion. This avenue is called Avenida da Liberdade (Liberty Avenue), and the statue in the roundabout represents Marquês de Pombal a noble who ran the Portuguese Kingdom in the 18th century. He remains to-date one of the most charismatic and controversial figures in Portuguese history (and is worth a blog post of its own).
Continue uphill and you get to a large public park. This is a pivotal landmark in the center of Lisbon and has a very interesting story of its own too. As surely all travel guides will point out, this Park was named after King Edward VII of England, following his visit to Portugal in 1903. The purpose of the royal visit was to strengthen commercial ties between the two nations, and naming of one of the great landscaping enterprises of the 20th century in Portugal after the English sovereign was meant as an homage. As the century unfolded, the Park, which opened in 1915, gradually conquered and claimed its place within the urban habitat.
The Park has a central two-lane pedestrian promenade, built in traditional Portuguese pavement and surrounded by a green area. The original project by Francisco Keil do Amaral was meant to create an extension of Avenida da Liberdade, taking up a total of 25 hectares. The original project evolved and had the contribution of several other architects.
Within the lateral green gardened areas there are two different greenhouses, one warm (Estufa Quente) and one cold (Estufa Fria). The former displays a wide variety of luxurious plants, lakes, cactuses and tropical birds; the latter, so called because, despite it being a greenhouse, heating is not used inside, shelters exotic plants, streams, palm trees, flower bushes and banana trees. Both greenhouses are open to the general public and are a weekend favorite among families with children and couples. If you happen to be surprised by a rainy afternoon during your Lisbon vacation, be sure to visit them.
On the East side of the Park you may find the Carlos Lopes Pavilion; a sports facility, the Pavilion was renamed after one of the best Portuguese marathon athletes (Gold Medal in the 1984 Olympic Games, at the age of 37). The Pavilion opened in 1923, and in its heyday hosted the World Championship of Roller Hockey (1947).
On the summit of the Park and the hill, there are two modernist towers, built during the Dictatorship period as a symbol of Portuguese colonial power. In 1997, a new sculpture was added to the Park, a monument commemorating the April 25th revolution. At that time a perennial gigantic Portuguese flag also became a permanent feature of the Park.
Since 1930 the Park has also hosted the annual Lisbon Book Fair, which usually takes places in late April / early May. Should you find yourself in the area, make sure to mark the park as one of the places to visit in Lisbon.
Find out more interesting stories about this Park and the man who governed Portugal for several decades.