Lisbon is a beautiful city. That much is clear from climbing up to its breathtaking miradouros to tasting the delicious food you can find here. It’s also got a quirky-ness and vibrancy which is also worth discovering and you can find some of that in the street art which covers the city.
A few weeks ago, I took part in a walking tour with Vero at Street Art Tour Lisbon, who provided the group with an invaluable insight into the inside world of street art which I admittedly don’t know much about.
Not only were were taken to locations with some fantastic street art that I would never have stumbled across on my own, we learned about the unspoken rules of the scene, the history of how it all began, the appropriate vocabulary (of which there seems to be a lot) and even took our hand at (legally) having a go with some spray paint, although it’s harder than you may think and I only managed to paint a basic smiley face!
The tour lasted just over three hours, with the meeting point at Largo de Camões. Payment is by donation, usually 10-15 euros but it is up to you on how much you decide to pay. The tour may have lasted for three hours, but we took our time at each place and even had a much needed break half-way through at a café for some tasty ginjinha. We were not rushed from place to place.
One of the highlights was walking around a car park located in Baixa. Each floor was dedicated to a different “writer” and it was interesting walking from top to bottom and learning about their different techniques and inspirations.
We also went to the Galeria de Arte Urbana, an area located on the street where there is the Elevador da Gloria. It’s a place for street artists to do their thing. Proposals are put forward and those which are accepted get to put their ideas into a reality on large billboards on the hill. These change often apparently, so every time you go you should expect to see something different. On the street adjacent, you’ll also see walls covered in graffiti, where anyone can have a go legally. By creating spaces like this, people are less likely to go do it elsewhere on private property.
Unfortunately, the tour did not cover some of the most impressive street art that can be found in Lisbon. However, this is understandable, as these are mostly dotted about the city and it would be challenging to cover on a walking tour! Luckily for me, I had time on my hands, so jumping on and off the metro to discover some of the highlights I wanted to see was easily accomplished last Saturday afternoon.
The Crono Project in 2010 gave Lisbon international attention, putting the city on the street art map, by inviting international names to collaborate with local Portuguese street artists. If you are taking the bus or a taxi from the airport into the city center, it is impossible to miss these particular boarding up buildings as they easily grab your attention for all the right reasons.
If you want to get a bit more of a look than just a glance through a taxi window, get off at Picoas metro station on the yellow line and direct yourself towards the main street, Avenida Fontes Pereira de Melo, where the buildings are located.
My personal favourite is found between the two metro stops, Terreiro do Paço and Santa Apolónia on the blue line, on a building which has art covered on three sides by VHILS and Pixel Pancho. Vhils, also known as Portuguese artist Alexandre Farto, carves into the wall which makes his works unique and stand out. His website goes into more detail here
If you’re in Lisbon, keep your eyes open, as you never know what amazing street art you may find!