It didn’t surprise us to learn that Lisbon was home to a thriving street art scene. This is known as a somewhat anarchic city, with a large population of struggling, disaffected youth, and a fairly permissive culture. That’s the perfect combination for excellent graffiti: political, angry, sarcastic, weird and often beautiful. During the course of our stay in Lisbon, we’d discover something new every time we stepped outdoors.
Ever since Lisbon’s Museu de Arte, Arquitetura e Tecnologia (or MAAT) opened its doors in 2016, the museum’s two adjacent buildings have been locked in an eternal struggle for ultimate coolness. In this corner, a former electricity plant, with much of its equipment still intact. And its opponent, a sleek, wave-shaped building of gleaming white panels. I’m not sure which is going to win!
The neighborhood of Amoreiras is best known for its mall, encased within towering glass buildings that are visible from across Lisbon. We wouldn’t be visiting Amoreiras, though, for its luxury shopping or modern architecture, but to see something more ancient: the Reservatório da Mãe d’Água, a cistern built in the 1740s.
You wake up groggy and semi-conscious, surprised to find yourself in a low-flying plane. Your arms are tied behind your back, but you manage to lift your head and look out the window. The villain appears and, pushing a knife against your neck, screams “Where are we? Right answer, you live!”
The Teatro Nacional São Carlos has been staging operas, ballets and concerts since it was built in 1793. It’s survived the centuries in remarkable shape, managing to evade the disasters which ravaged the rest of the city, and looks almost the same as it did on opening day.
The oldest and most important church in Lisbon is its cathedral, the Santa Maria Maior. The Sé, as it’s commonly referred to, was built in 1147, immediately after the city was conquered by the Christians. We checked it out after having visited the National Pantheon in the nearby church of Santa Engrácia.
Ever since arriving in Lisbon, we had been aware of the Igreja da Santa Engrácia, with its massive dome capping the skyline of Alfama, and wondered how beautiful the church inside must be. Upon visiting, we immediately realized that, while beautiful it is… a church it isn’t. At least, not anymore. Today, the Santa Engrácia holds the National Pantheon, which honors some of the country’s most prestigious historical figures.
In 1998, Portugal honored the 500th anniversary of Vasco da Gama’s historic journey to India by constructing the longest bridge in Europe. A gondola provides incredible views over the bridge, the Tagus estuary which it spans, and the former pavilions of the 1998 World Expo.