A new Lisbon rises from the old
14 April, 2014
Words by Rita Branco
To begin your journey we invite you to take a closer look at an almost forgotten side of Lisbon: Braço de Prata. Located between Santa Apolónia and Oriente, it’s not the most charming area in the city, but in recent times it has become a place where new things find a start. Pioneers in recycling forgotten buildings, the cultural center Fábrica Braço de Prata was created back in 2007. Formerly a factory where war materials were manufactured, it is now a place to cultivate new ideas: since it replaced gunpowder with books, this special spot locks up between its doors countless proposals: from live music to art exhibitions, poetry sessions, dance meetings and other gatherings. Due to its variety of rooms, there is always something happening. It has twelve doors in total, all hiding secrets and each one with its own purpose: four exhibition rooms, another one for film projections, other for musical performances, a bookstore and a couple of bars. A place of leisure filled with a young and dynamic crowd.
Moving to one of the oldest neighborhoods in the heart of Lisbon, Anjos, there’s a place called Taberna das Almas, another cultural association born out of a deactivated glass factory. With two floors and three different rooms, this place made out of wood and full of personality, wants to revitalize the area by promoting and supporting all sorts of cultural projects. Since 2012, every road leads to Feira das Almas on the first Saturday of every month: this alternative market presents sixty projects every new edition, from vintage shopping and handicraft to brand new designers and labels, always accompanied by live music. Being the place where online shops gain a temporarily physical space, big traveling bags are turned into showcases and young artists exhibit their work, Feira das Almas brings a fresh idea into traditional business.
To the occidental side, Príncipe Real is a stylish area on its own. Full of old buildings being renovated and with a young population moving in, this rich neighborhood is becoming a serious shopping spot surrounded by gardens. Built in 1857, Ribeiro da Cunha Palace, was not only part of the New University of Lisbon once, it was the stage for a French TV show also. Right in front of Príncipe Real Garden, the brand new fashion bazaar opened its doors for the first time in early September, 2013. This stately Neo-Moorish building has been recovered and turned into a place where art, business and lifestyle meet, and gathers fifteen entrepreneurs shops over two floors. From fashion to beauty, furniture to music, a restaurant and a space dedicated to temporary art exhibitions, this commercial area combines tradition with innovation and creativity, keeping its interiors intact, where every room has a story to tell, and giving an opportunity to the labels to be in direct touch with their customers.
Extending south of Príncipe Real, there’s the bohemian Bairro Alto. At number 59 of Rua da Barroca, ZDB pops up. Zé dos Bois is an art center living in an eighteenth century palace that was abandoned for ten years: Baronesa de Almeida Palace, a place where writer Almeida Garrett once lived, lodges a non profit organization since 1997 and it has been existing as a space for creation and promotion of contemporary art and the alternative scene, with a special attention to experimentation and exploration of emerging artistic languages. Hosting more than 150 art events per year, including residencies and educational programs, spreading emergent visual art proposals and with a diversified schedule of live music performances, ZDB also has a bookstore, a bar and a terrace where film projections happen periodically.
Moving towards occidental Lisbon, right in front of Estrela Garden, you will find A Montra, which will be occupying number 132 of Calçada da Estrela until October, 2014. During an entire year, this cultural intervention will rehabilitate an abandoned street shop and will turn its window into an art gallery. Every month, an artist is going to produce an art work for that particular place, a feast for the eyes that is available at any time of the day.
To put an end to our journey, LX Factory seems to be a good choice. Once one of the most important manufacturing complexes in Alcântara, it is today a factory of experiences and ideas. Although the mechanical environment is still alive, its residents are now very different: creative people and original companies have been reviving the complex since 2007. LX Factory is to everyone and for everyone, this creative island of fashion, advertisement, communication, fine arts and music has a lot of different commercial and gastronomic spaces, and it also organizes the LX Market every Sunday, a fair for handmade pieces, small DIY brands and second hand opportunities.
From the oriental to the occidental side of Lisbon, here are six bets on the Portuguese new cultural scene. Six different places with a mutual goal: give Lisbon a new dimension and bring life to the city, promoting all sort of arts and entrepreneur ships as a unifier, and using the old to create a better new.
So you feel like visiting Lisboa, do you? Book your flights here!
Imagen de Ricardo Junqueira
14 April, 2014