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 guide book or 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.
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 found this article on the Lisbon Lux website, the photos of the inside of the church are fabulous. Click on the link to see them. The website states the church is only open on Wednesday afternoons and Sunday mornings for mass. (I have no way to validate this information.)
According to Lisbon Lux, this church was originally built in the 1100's, but rebuilt after the earthquake of 1755. Supposedly, 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 geotracker route. You can also see where it is located in relation to the Cathedral of Lisbon, the Sé de Lisboa.
Fully Interactive Google Map of the Official Start of the Camino Portugués
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.
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.
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 Interior Route from Porto. Supposedly, the Coastal Route is 640 kilometers, if you stick to the official route.
Here we are taking a selfie at the first yellow arrow. Our Camino was officially beginning! We were filled with anticipation and joy!
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 close-ups of the lookout terrace, shows why it is an amazing place to contemplate life and your Camino.
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!
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.
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.
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.
For a comprehensive list of hotels in Lisbon, click here.
For a list of hostels, click here.
Skip to Central Route Below, for Final Days 22-25 to Santiago
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