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The Official Start of the Camino Portugués in Lisbon

COVID ~ 19 and the Camino

Please note that as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the businesses along the Camino may not be operating as expected, despite reopening as of June 21st. It would be wise to check with the locals regarding the opening and operations of specific restaurants, bars, albergues and other accommodations recommended in this guide. Most, if not all the municipal albergues are closed!

If you are going on a Camino during the pandemic, please check the local news frequently, for new areas of outbreak and any new restrictions in travel. Any portion of the Camino may close down at any time to contain a new outbreak!

Also please note the current travel restrictions for travelers from the USA entering Spain, from the US Embassy. If you are coming from Europe to Spain, the European Schengen countries are now allowed to enter Spain. Travelers from the UK, Australia and New Zealand are now also allowed to enter Spain.

For detailed information regarding entry restrictions of any country in the world, including entry into Spain, click on this link to the IATA ((International Air Transport Association)). When the page opens, click on the country of your choice in the interactive map to see their requirements for entry. Good luck and be safe out there!

Many believe the official start of the Camino Portugués in Lisbon is the Cathedral of Lisbon. It is not. The true start is at the Church of Santiago, or the Igreja de Santiago as it is known in Portuguese. 

I am not sure why the Church of Santiago is not well known. I suppose it depends on the reference that you are using. 

For us, it was imperative to start at the official beginning!

“Don't believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitation. Look with your understanding, find out what you already know, and you'll see the way to fly.” ~ Richard Bach, author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull

To find the official start of the Camino Portugués, one must first find the Church of Santiago, just up the hill, four tenths of a kilometer from the Cathedral of Lisbon. Here is a photograph of the church.

Igreja de Santiago, Lisbon Portugal, official start of the Camino PortuguésIgreja de Santiago

It is a sweet little church, on the Rúa de Santiago, heading up the hill towards the famous São Jorge Castle, a must see on the tourist trail in Lisbon. Unfortunately, the church was not open on the Thursday when we arrived. 

I wish the church had been open, because when I looked at the Igreja de Santiago Facebook page, the photos of the inside of the church are fabulous. Click on the link to see them. In addition to Sunday morning mass, the church is open all day on Mondays. Click the link to see current times, as this may change. 

According to Wikipedia, the church was originally built in the 1100's, but rebuilt several more times after numerous earthquakes. According to legend, the very Christopher Columbus and his wife were married here in 1479!

You can see the location of the church on my map below, from my GPS route. You can also see where it is located in relation to the Cathedral of Lisbon, the Sé de Lisboa.

For me, I found it important to find the Santiago church, because here, as you can see in the next photos, are the official signs announcing the beginning of The Portuguese Way, in English and in Portuguese. I took close-ups of the signs, so you can read them.

Here Begins The WayHere Begins The Way

As tourists do, we first visited the Castelo de São Jorge, farther up the hill, then found the Igreja de Santiago as we walked back down the hill towards the Cathedral. It was a bit tricky to find the Rúa de Santiago, with all the narrow streets but we were persistent! 

Here we are, at the front of the church, where you will find the first yellow arrow, in the lower right hand corner of the photo. We found the church the day before we started our Camino, to ensure that we were in the right place. 

Elle and Rich at the Official Start of the Camino PortuguésElle and Rich at the Official Start of the Camino Portugués

The official placard for the start in the Portuguese language, below, is smaller and on the lower right side by the green church doors. The sign also indicates the route is 610 kilometers. This would be on the Central Route from Porto. Supposedly, the Coastal Route is 640 kilometers, if you stick to the official route and not the Senda Litoral. My GPS said that via the Coastal Route, the entire Camino is 700 kilometers, with all the additional steps we took here and there along the way.

"Here Begins The Way" in Portuguese

Here we are taking a selfie at the first yellow arrow. Our Camino was officially beginning! We were filled with anticipation and joy!

Rich and Elle at First Yellow ArrowRich and Elle at First Yellow Arrow

From the Igreja de Santiago, you walk down the Rúa de Santiago. At the T-Intersection, shown below, there is a nice lookout terrace over the Rio Tejo, called the Miradouro de Santa Luzia. This is a lovely place to stop for a moment or more to center yourself and reflect on your upcoming journey.

The Walk Down the Rúa de SantiagoThe Walk Down the Rúa de Santiago

The close-ups of the lookout terrace, shows why it is an amazing place to contemplate life and your Camino. 

Lookout Terrace at the Miradouro de Santa LuziaLookout Terrace at the Miradouro de Santa Luzia

The Alfama district as seen from the miradouro is in the next photo. The Camino is down there as it follows the river, just a stone's throw away! I do love Lisbon!

Alfama District, as Seen from the Miradouro de Santa LuziaAlfama District, as Seen From the Miradouro de Santa Luzia

Turn right at the Santa Luzia lookout, and walk farther down the hill, on the Rúa Augusto Rosa. You can see in the photo, the towers of the Cathedral ahead. Continue on to the Cathedral.

Rúa Augusto Rosa, Lisbon, PortugalRúa Augusto Rosa
Sé de Lisboa, PortugalSé de Lisboa

Even though we were unable to find any yellow arrows or signs from the Igreja de Santiago to the Sé de Lisboa, you can see by my map, that the route is very straightforward.

Not only did we walk this official start route on the Camino Portugués, the day before we started our Camino, but we also visited the Cathedral, and got our first official Camino stamp. The Sé is the perfect place to do this, and the stamp will grace your credential. 

Just to be sure, once we arrived at the cathedral, we found the first two yellow arrows onward, so when we started early the next morning, we would have no trouble finding the way. 

The first yellow arrow at the cathedral is to the right of the main door. You can see it where I am standing and pointing. It indicates that you should turn left.

Immediately, around to the right of this first arrow, you will see a street. Turn left and look for the street sign for the next directional arrow. Rich is pointing to the sign with the very small arrow on a blue background. Walk down this street, called Cruzes de Sé.

Elle Pointing to Yellow Arrow on the Corner of the Sé de LisboaElle Pointing to Arrow on the Corner of the Sé de Lisboa
Rich Pointing to Arrow on Street Sign Around the Right of the Sé de LisboaRich Pointing to Arrow on Street Sign Around the Right of the Sé de Lisboa

Now that we had found the official start of the Camino Portugués, and found the way immediately after the Cathedral, we felt confident for our first official day on the Camino. 

With eager excitement, bordering on a touch of anxiety, we opened our hearts for what was ahead. Now that we were ready to fly, we invoked the sight of the heart, so that we could indeed, find understanding beyond mere physical sight, for our journey onward. The pilgrimage travelers were ready. 

Looking for a Place to Stay in Lisbon?

For a comprehensive list of hotels in Lisbon, click here.

For a list of hostels and one albergue near the airport, click here. Unfortunately there is no albergue in the center of town or near the albergue. 

Downloadable Camino Portugués eBooks in PDF Format ~ Get Your Copy Today!  Don't carry a hard copy guide book to increase your pack weight. Use our digital guides on your next Camino instead. 

And the Journey Continues:

~ Lisbon to Porto

~ Porto to Santiago Via the Coastal Route and/or the Sendal Litoral

~ Porto to Santiago Via the Central Route

Have Peace of Mind on Your Next Camino!

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