The afternoon sunlight casts long and distorted shadows on the pavement, and shines faintly through the yellowish treetops. The trees on either side of Paço da Rainha are weakened by the winter season; the branches that usually hold lush treetops now have sparce clusters of leaves, hanging tight on the thin branches. Beneath them, grows the queue of cars, waiting for their turn to traverse the crossroads. I just left Campo dos Mártires da Pátria to follow the aristocratic queen's road, headed towards the Anjos neighbourhood, to get to a great viewpoint nearby. Along the sidewalk, I pass by the imposing Palácio da Bemposta, the residence of D. Catarina de Bragança, built at the very end of the XVIIth century.
A bronze bust of the queen sits between two ornate doors, on the sidewalk, watching the people passing by. My path takes me toward the thinner roads, and a certain quietness settles when I reach the suburbs. There is a mix of old housing with faded pastel colours and some vacant buildings, left at the mercy of time. A row of these houses is covered in spray paint writing, catching the eye. The amalgamation of colours and textures makes it look like some strange tribal ornamentation. Plants are scattered along the balconies, and some loose vegetation climbs from the other side, taking hold of the rooftops.
At street level, there are just a few trees, and the sun now only touches the tallest branches. Turned to the rows of parked cars are some small stores and businesses, but this is mostly an area of residence. Sounds of movement get louder at the instersection with the large Santa Bárbara square. Near a music school and herbalist shop, there is a sort of elevated porch, and from here one can get a good look at the crossroads with the Almirante Reis avenue, touched by a cold brightness, loud and busy as always. In front of me, Febo Moniz street pierces though, and then steadily climbs the hill of Lisboa, ending just beneath the lush Miradouro do Monte Agudo.
I follow the path my eyes drew a moment before. At Almirante Reis, the typical commotion: a torrent of vehicles, pathways, people. Each time the light shifts, the crosswalks are stepped on by the dozens and then the flow of engines builds up again, with whistles and sirens ringing from time to time. Stores, cafes, restaurants, banks, and residences, all see people come and go. Getting through, I have to climb Rua de Angola. The sidewalk is a chaotic chess of cobblestone. To reach the inviting viewpoint, it is necessary to go around the block on the left; the cityline is an abstract canvas of geometric figures. Then, almost hidden, a simple staircase leads to the upward path, through the hillside vegetation.
Weeds grow in between the stone and gravel of the pathway and walls. The sound of children playing during recess at a school nearby becomes more evident uphill, and it's a nice constrast to the ambiance from before. The views of Lisboa start coming through the small forest growing on the slope, until eventually they span the entirety of the viewpoint's path. Close to a small cafe-esplanade are many benches and chaise louges; facing the open air, they allow the crowd to take a break from the town, hang out with friends and discuss joyfully. Under the white collumns of Miradouro do Monte Agudo, some even enjoy the winter sunbath.
Meanwhile, daylight begins to slowly lose strenght. Lisboa looks like a huddle of toy houses, dissolving in the horizon like mist. A bell rings, and I take it as a cue to move on. The path mimics the curving hillside, over the neighbourhood of Intendente, and leads back to town. After a quick glance at the 28 tram, near the Forno do Tijolo Market, I head through the housing at the edge of the Graça district, under tall buildings in shade, stacked up one after the other. Rua Damasceno Monteiro offers workshops, grocery stores, art studios and a peculiar little stairway that leads directly to Miradouro da Senhora do Monte. But I find it undergoing reparations, so I keep going, heading directly towards the end goal.
At a certain point the line of houses gives way to the sky. From this opening comes a pleasant breeze, and I have a new sight of the city. Jardim da Cerca da Graça, my last stop, is already visible, and it only takes a minute to get to. Across the fence, I spot the kiosk already in the shade, the several paths around the lawns, the elevated balconies. Thrown over the green, the sun announces its last minutes in yellow light. Spread a little bit everywhere, a few visitors walk their pets, some sit and talk, others enjoy the sunset. Below, children and adults are playing; their voices echo on the grassy hillside. The cold silhouette cast by the enclosing buildings climbs the garden slowly.
The sudden ringing of a bell, coming from the nearby Graça Church, momentarily breaks the vague ambiance of the winter afternoon. The rooftops of Lisboa extend toward the Tejo. The landscape, reflecting the last rays of sunlight, gives off a monotonal warmth. The sky appears on fire.
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