June 25, 2010

Rua da Academia das Ciências Lisbon


Rua da Academia das Ciências is a street in Lisbon’s Bairro Alto district. It is very picturesque not only in its ancientness, but – as in many Portuguese cityscapes - in the variety of architectural ages and styles that meld in it.

Rua da Academia das Ciências is worth a visit for three reasons. The first is the institution it is named after: the Academia das Ciências de Lisboa (Sciences Academy of Lisbon). It is housed in the former Convent of Jesus (which still survives in part as the Hospital de Jesus) and was established in 1779. The Convent became home to the academy in 1833. The founding of the Academy was a boon in particular to the study of mathematics in Portugal as its Memoirs were the only journal at that time where mathematicians could publish their research.

The Academy is worth a visit for its huge, awe-inspiring hall and its general atmosphere of scholarly grandeur and noble dedication to fusty causes. It also has the Museu Geológico  (Geological Museum), founded in 1857, Portugal’s first geological and archaeological museum. Open Tuesday to Sunday, 10am – 5pm.


Down the other end of the Rua da Academia das Ciências is an institution that, in some senses, couldn’t be more diametrically opposed to the stolid, sedentary Academia in its intent: the Escola Superior de Dança, or the Advanced School of Dance. Yet, in a way, it is sister to the Academia in that dance here is studied in such depth that graduates leave with a bachelor’s degree in the subject.

Then, happily, at 1-1A Rua da Academia das Ciências, where it meets Rua O Seculo (see photo above), next door to the dance school, is Consenso, one of Lisbon’s best restaurants. It is said that personages as exalted as the prime minister patronize this establishment, but for all its chic interior, its new age “earth, air, fire, water” theme, and its exquisite, modern cuisine, it nevertheless manages to be surprisingly affordable. Highly recommended.
Restaurant Consenso
Mon-Sun: 7.30pm - 11:30pm
Rua da Academia das Ciencias 1-1A
Bus no. 92, tram no. 28, Baixa-Chiado subway station.
Tel . 21 346 86 11
http://www.restauranteconsenso.com/eng/home.html

Oh, and one more reason to visit Rua da Academia das Ciências: like almost any backstreet in the Bairro Alto, it is delightfully sleepy and eminently wanderable.

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