by, Luisa Gomes
Lisbon Tour Guides
Are you spending a few days in Lisbon? ? Probably you never heard of a woman called Gracia Nasi. Let me introduce this amazing woman to you.
Gracia Nasi was born in Lisbon in 1510 under the name Beatriz Luna. She was born in a Jewish family, being by then called “New Christian”. The New Christians had to hide their religion and traditions, because since the end of the 15th century, officially, there were no more Jews in Portugal.
She married Francisco Mendes at the age of 18. Her husband was also a new-Christian. He was a successful banker and business man involved on the trade of precious stones and spices . His brother was his associated and was based in Antwerp since 1512.
Gracia became widow at the age of 25 and she decided to carry on with her husband business.
But in 1536 the Inquisition arrives to Portugal. She plans her departure from the country where now her life is in danger. She left in 1537 with her daughter Reyna, her sister and two nephews.
She stayed in Antwerp until 1545 taking care of the family empire but also trying to help other families that wanted to escape from the religious persecutions in Portugal. In 1545 she moved to Venezia to the Rialto area. She kept her religion inside her house and she keeps receiving and hiding Marranos. Unfortunately, she was denounced to the authorities and put in prison accused of practicing Judaism. Gracia was rescued by the nephew João Micas and she decided to move to Ferrara. It is in Ferrara that she will meet Benvenida Abravanel, niece of Isaac Abravanel and she will be involved in the publishment of Hebrew books such as the “Ferrara Bible”.
Gracia decides to move to Istambul in 1522 . The sultan Bejazet II had invited the Sephardic Jews to settle in his lands. It is here that she will embrace the Judaism and use her Hebrew name. She no longer hides who she is!
She died in Istambul in 1569 at the age of 59, at the town she had dreamed as a place where all Jews could settle and live peacefuly with religious freedom.
Grácia Nasi, “ The Lady” , used her courage, her responsibility and solidarity to help the poor and fragile people.
Homage to Dona Grácia Nasi in Tiberias
by, Luisa Gomes
If you are planning to visit Lisbon and you only have three days, there are things that you should not miss. Let us help you to organise your time in order to see as much as possible.
The first day of your stay we suggest you to spend it in the old districts and centre of the city. For this first day you need to have very good comfortable shoes. The best way to discover the old districts is to walk. But keep in mind that Lisbon is not a flat city and lots of the pavements are made with cobbled stones.
The old districts that we recommend are: Alfama, Mouraria, Bairro Alto, Chiado and Baixa. They are all next to each other. In here you will enjoy the more authentic Lisbon, understand the way the city grew, and the way people still live their neighbourhood.
The sites that you should not miss are: the St. George Castle, Saint Luzia Belvedere, Commerce Square, Rossio Square, S. Pedro de Alcântara belvedere, the Saint Rock Church and Rua Garrett where we still find some of the oldest stores of Lisbon.
The second day should be spent in Belém district, the district connected with the Golden period of the Portuguese history – the Maritime Discoveries. It is here that we find the Saint Jerome Monastery, the Monument of the Discoveries and the so famous Belém Tower. But if you enjoy museums there are great museums such as: Maritime Museum, the Coach Museum and the MAAT (Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology). Do not miss the famous custard tarts.
If you still have energy stop at LX factory to have a drink, to eat or just to admire local art.
For the third day we recommend you to visit the Parque das Nações. It is the most modern section of Lisbon with contemporary architecture and the Lisbon Oceanarium, considered to be one of the best in the world. This day can be more relaxing enjoying the open space and doing some shopping.
If you still have time and like art museums do not miss Gulbenkian Museum that holds one of the best private art collections in the world.
The best way to take advantage of your visits and not to lose time is to have a certified guide with you. You will have more time to look at the monuments, take pictures, enjoy the moment instead of keeping your nose on a guidebook or looking at your smart phone.
Enjoy Lisbon! If you need the help of a certified guide, get in touch with us, we would love to take you around our city!