Not all major cities are gifted with talented artists who portray their work out in the open for the world to marvel. Today’s artwork can mostly be found in art galleries/museums and you have to pay a lot. But the Portuguese artists have turned the streets of Lisbon into an open air art gallery/museum with their interactive and ingenious art that turns heads and inspires almost all pedestrians and motorists. Before the attractive makeover, the buildings on these streets used to be mind-numbing with an unimpressive sight to behold.
Graffiti has for several decades existed in Lisbon especially in its historical center but the initiative by the Lisbon City Hall in 2008 has greatly boosted urban art. Nowadays tourists do not need to go all the way to the city’s suburbs to look at the modern graffiti as this can be seen right in the main streets of downtown Lisbon without making any payment.
Lisbon’s unique and interesting urban art has given it a great global trademark. It’s easy to spot these unique drawings on the walls of buildings when you simply walk through the city center or stroll into other historic neighborhoods. In such places, you’ll spend a good time marveling at the artists’ creativity while snapping some nice pics to share with friends.
Some of the city center areas where you’ll find attractive urban street art include; Graça, Santa Apolónia, not forgetting Lisbon’s highest point – the Castle of São Jorge. Near the castle, you’ll also find great artworks at Rua da Madalena, and Escadinhas de São Cristovão. In the same area, there’s a building whose portico was painted with a beautiful portrait inscription of the famous song Fado Vadio that expresses emotions rather than being for commercial interests. Remember this area is near the neighborhoods of Mouraria and Alfama where this song originated from.
On the other side of the Castle along the tram 28 route, you can follow up the Graça Literary Walk where you’ll come across murals that depict the native Portuguese writers which were drawn by the artists under the Ebano Collective project. These murals portray the connection between artistic practice and ethnographic research. The Ebano art group comprised of Eime, Leonor Brilha, Lorenzo Bordonaro, Mariana Dias Coutinho, MrDheo, Pariz, and Violant. The illustrated Portuguese writers include Natalia Correia, Angelina Vidal, Sophia de Mello Breyner Anderson and Florbela Espanca.
And if you’re proceeding from Graça to Santa Apolonia, you’ll also come across the Jardim do Tabaco (meaning Tobacco garden). There’s an adjacent building that used to house the customs office but now it was turned into a very big mural canvas with impressive artworks by Pixel Pancho and Vhils.
Before you finally reach the Castle, just at the city’s lifts, you’ll walk across two streets with spectacular artworks and these are; Elevador da Glória and Elevador da Lavra. These streets also connect to several public gardens one of which is the Avenida da Liberdade and Jardim do Torel. These are garden-like spaces where several artworks by different artists can be seen.
You can also look at some artwork near the Marquês de Pombal roundabout which is within the city center and is a well-known interconnecting area for all the main avenues in the city. In Avenida Fontes Pereira de Melo next to the Picoas underground station, you’ll find 3 buildings bearing huge painting murals which are some of the most popular artworks in Lisbon.
Another place where you can also find the paintings is between Baixa and Belém which are all in downtown Lisbon. If you continue along the river in the direction of Belém, remember to look out for a building that houses the Lx Factory whose front bears a large painting by Vhils and on its back, there’s a mural painted by Hom and Nosm. Whether you use a car or tram, remember to find this building near Alcantâra just before you reach the bridge’s pillars.
You may not be able to visit all places in Lisbon where this urban art is displayed in one day but if you make advance travel itineraries while adding up other popular tourist destinations like the Sao Jorge Castle, Lisbon Oceanarium or the Belem Tower, you’ll save time by visiting these places while gazing at the urban art as you pass by on the streets where it’s displayed. But before you start your urban art hunt, you may want to visit Lisbon’s Urban Art Gallery at the Galeria de Arte Urbana de Lisboa for detailed information on how and where to find Lisbon’s marvelous street art.