Ribeiro da Cunha Palace seen from Jardim do Príncipe Real
This charming neighborhood (named "Royal Prince" in honor of Queen Maria II's first born) extends north of Bairro Alto. It has become one of Lisbon’s trendiest districts, with sophisticated shops and restaurants.
Monument to the victims of homophobia
It has traditionally been Lisbon’s “gay neighborhood,” and the LGBT community is celebrated with a monument in the main square, Praça do Príncipe Real (which is really a small park). The monument is shaped like an open closet door with cutouts of a male and female figures, and has an inscription remembering “the victims of homophobic intolerance.” It faces a 150-year-old cypress tree, which looks like a giant umbrella. Below the park is one of the city’s best-kept secrets, a gigantic water reservoir from 1860, whose dozens of 9-meter-high pillars create a monumental setting for events (it opens for visits on weekends).
Jardim do Príncipe Real
The neighborhood’s most striking building faces the park, a Moorish Revival palace from the 1800s called Palacete Ribeiro da Cunha, whose romantic interior is now divided into shops and restaurants.
Outside the two main streets (Rua Dom Pedro V and Rua da Escola Politécnica, which are one continuous road), it’s a quiet residential district, with colorful buildings and mansions turning into some of Lisbon’s most expensive real estate.
Praça das Flores
At the bottom of the hill, bordering the neighborhood of São Bento, is the romantic little square Praça das Flores. It’s a tranquil place to relax surrounded by trees, by a century-old kiosk serving refreshments, and several cafés and restaurants.
What to See and Do in Príncipe Real
It’s a unique example of Lisbon’s baroque architecture before the Great Earthquake of 1755, as it remarkably survived the disaster. Behind a sober exterior is a rich church from 1677, featuring one of the most important sets of tile panels in Lisbon. They date from 1692 and were created by one of Amsterdam’s leading tile artists of the time, Jan van Oort. Also notable is the gilded altarpiece from 1693, which is considered one of the finest examples of gilded wood carving in Lisbon.
See the Convento dos Cardaes Visitor's Guide.
It’s a “secret garden,” hidden behind buildings on Príncipe Real’s busiest road, and much larger than you imagine as you enter the gate. It was laid out in 1858 and, after many years of neglect, was cleaned up in 2018. Among the subtropical vegetation, are neatly-labeled exotic plants and an unusually-shaped Australian Cycad, with twisting trunks. The main attraction, however, it the butterfly greenhouse, which is the only one in Europe than can be visited.
See the Botanical Garden Visitor's Guide.
This romantic garden from 1863 is the center of Príncipe Real’s main square. It's surrounded by elegant buildings, including the exotic Ribeiro da Cunha Palace (see below), which is now Lisbon's most beautiful shopping destination. The garden is known for its gigantic parasol-like cedar tree and is home to a memorial to the victims of homophobia. There are also kiosk cafés serving refreshments throughout the day, and regular markets of organic fruits and vegetables, crafts and antiques. Underneath it all is a stone reservoir from the 1800s that's part of the city's aqueduct and Water Museum.
This geological museum’s extraordinary collection remains a secret. It’s displayed over four halls of a former convent, and has over 4000 fossils, rocks and minerals, many of them unique and rare pieces. You may see fossils of the world’s oldest snakes from 150 million years ago, mammals from the Jurassic period, the head of a gigantic 20-million-year-old crocodile found in Lisbon, dinosaur legs and footprints, tools used by prehistoric humans, and minerals from Portugal and abroad. It’s hidden on a second floor, and maintains the atmosphere of a 19th-century museum.
See the Geological Museum Visitor's Guide.
This Moorish Revival palace from 1877 features horseshoe-arch windows, domes and pinnacles. It’s a romantic building similar to others erected in Sintra at the time, and belonged to a wealthy businessman named José Ribeiro da Cunha. It was sold to two different families over the years, and in 1980 it was rented to a local university. It was then left abandoned for some time, before opening as the shopping gallery Embaixada in 2013. It has several shops (mostly focusing on Portuguese fashion and design) and restaurants in the rooms surrounding the beautiful inner courtyard, and is worth a peek inside, even if you don’t plan to shop or dine.
Praça do Príncipe Real, 26
Opens every day
How to Get to Príncipe Real
You may walk up the hill from Chiado or Bairro Alto to Príncipe Real, or take tram 24 that departs from Praça Luís de Camões. Bus 758 also goes through the neighborhood, departing from Cais do Sodré, right outside the train station.
Alternatively, take the Glória funicular that climbs the hill from Restauradores Square downtown to the edge of Bairro Alto, where it’s just a few feet to Príncipe Real.
You may ride the tram, the bus and the funicular, as well as the city's metro and trains for free with the Lisboa Card.
Where to Stay in Príncipe Real
Príncipe Real only has a few places to stay, but there’s something for every budget. 1869 Príncipe Real is a beautiful but more affordable bed and breakfast, while Memmo Príncipe Real is a design hotel with a panoramic view for those looking for the 5-star experience.
For more details and recommendations, see the best hotels in Príncipe Real.