It´s happened, and big time: as the clusters of tourists spilling out from Thai style tuk-tuks roaming around the city testify. Today, everyone wants a slice of Lisbon: wants to explore it, wants a piece of its real estate whose price has doubled in the last few years, wants to live in it. Chosen as their base by glamorous expats like Madonna, the Aga Khan, Alicia Wikander and Michael Fassbender, attracted by the slow rhythms, the mild weather and the warmth of the “Lisboenses”, the city lives today a golden moment.
But what has propelled the Portuguese capital from a prolonged financial-crisis to a booming renaissance? Clever polices such as the Golden Visa, granting residency to foreigners purchasing properties over €500,000; but also the unrelenting resourcefulness and indomitable creative spirit of the citizens. The result is a capital brimming with new energy. We have travelled to it to measure it´s vibe through the architectural innovations, the contemporary art scene, the creative cuisine and the eclectic hôtellerie. Our finds:
ART & ARCHITECTURE
Inaugurated in 2016 for the Architecture Triennale, the Museum of Art Architecture & Technology (MAAT) by British architect Amanda Levete, inspired by the rippling waters of the river Tagus, is already a landmark of the city. The striking building covered with three-dimensional tiles has changed the identity of the riverside area of Belem. Visit the inspiring exhibition dedicated to eco-visionaries and the dreamlike site-specific installation by Tomás Saraceno.; climb on the rooftop for stellar views of the river and the 25thof April bridge. Across the road, the new National Coach Museum by award-winning Brazilian architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha- boasting one of the most impressive coach collections in the world - is a suspended structure surrounding a plaza, including an auditorium and a restaurant. While in Belem, pop into the Museu Berardo where an impressive collection of contemporary art includes works by Cy Twombly and Frank Stella. Continue to the area of the Praça de Espanha where the Modern Collection of the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum showcases important oeuvres by Portuguese artists. For a pick of the crop of contemporary art galleries venture to the up-and-coming industrial area of Marvila, where converted warehouses house craft beer bars, vintage furniture shops and exhibition spaces such as Underdogs Gallery, featuring “urban art taken indoors” by Portuguese emerging artist: one of the founders is celebrated street artist Vhils. Opened in 2006 in a former match factory, Baginski Gallery endorses Portuguese artist and introduces Latin American names to the Portuguese public. Initially created as a nomadic concept, Galeria Francisco Fino represents a stable of 9 Portuguese and international artists including Tris Vonna-Mitchell and Adrien Missika. For political and social-themed art check-out the Galeria Bruno Murias where issues like the interaction between colonialism and modernism are explored. Conclude your tour in the former red light district of Cais do Sodre´, where the stunning rippling structure of the EDP Headquarters by Portuguese architect Manuel Aires Mateus embodies the architectural vitality of the city.
Experimental, imaginative, and open to diverse influences, contemporary Portuguese cuisine surprises with a seamless blend of tradition and innovation. Start your culinary journey at Loco, the playground of chef Alexandre Silva, where the conceptual dishes are created with organic seasonal ingredients. Continue your exploration at Prado, a leafy space that is one of the hottest addresses in town, where dishes by 26-year-old chef Antonio Galapito are concocted with local, fresh seasonal ingredients and a grocery store is stocked with Portuguese delicacies. Another must-visit is Alma by top chef and TV personality Henrique Sa´ Pessoa known for inventive Portuguese cuisine with Asian twists. Voted Best Restaurant at the Monocle Restaurant Awards 2017, Bistro 100 Maneiras by chef Ljubomir Stanisic is a living-room-like space where to mingle sipping cocktails and tasting recipes mixing Portuguese and international flavours. Part of uberchef José Avillez culinary empire Bairro do Avillez is a food Mecca with a buzzing “taberna” serving Portuguese tapas, and an airy brasseries offering specialties of hyper-fresh fish & seafood. Definitely worth a visit the buzzing Time Out Market in the converted Mercado da Ribeira, a gourmet destination where to taste dishes by the best national chefs sitting around communal tables.
Strategically located in the Avenida da Liberdade -where the elite brands have their flagships- Fashion Clinic is a one-stop-stop for a curated selection of garments by the biggest names in fashion today. In search for that special something to remember your trip by head to A Vida Portuguesa, a fascinating store in a small street of Chiado chockablock with traditional Portuguese products such as the scented candles by Claus Porto or the toothpastes by Couto (there is another store in Intendente and one in Chiado specialized in homeware). Fashion, home décor, cosmetics, a lively bar, 2 restaurants and even a bespoke tailor are to be found at Embaixada, a shopping destination nestled in an entire building. In search for objects by Portuguese designers head to Verso Branco, a design store/art gallery giving visibility to young Portuguese artists such as Rueffa, whose pieces are inspired by pop art, and to well-known designers such as Fernando Brízio. Beauty addicts will reach Nirvana at Skinlife, a sleek beauty boutique where to indulge in selected perfumes such as those by Kilian or Frederic Malle, cosmetics deluxe such as those by Dr.Barbara Sturm, and makeup by By Terry.
Chic comes in many shapes and forms, but the Palacio Belmonte´s allure is simply inimitable. The former residence of the Earl of Belmonte lovingly restored by eco-entrepreneur Frédéric Coustols, has maintained its former grandeur and it´s beautifully decorated with original antiques and contemporary art from the owner´s own collection. No wonder the “luxury guest palace”, whose suites are all different, is the home-away-from-home for style-makers (actor Jeremy Irons and artist Francesco Clemente are regulars). It is the star of the new generation of boutique hotels the uber-hip Le Consulat, a showstopper of a property formerly the Brazilian Consulate. Set smack in the pulsating heart of Chiado, this high-style retreat has the feeling of a cool private club. Rooms are decorated with vintage finds and works from Lisbon´s top galleries, an art space features up-and-coming Portuguese artists, the bar is one of the favoured nightspots of the in-the-know crowd, and the restaurant serves creative Portuguese cuisine that will leave you yearning for more. Location and tradition are the winning points of Pousada de Lisboa, a luxury hotel of the famous Praça do Comércio in Baixa. The 17th century Pombaline structure, formerly the Ministry of Internal Affairs, is decorated with a Portuguese art collection on loan from de Museu de Lisboa, and the rooms are spacious and comfortable. It is the meeting point of the young trendy crowd Memmo Principe Real, a Design Hotel strategically located at the beginning of rua Dom Pedro V, the main street of the hot neighbourhood of Principe Real. Rooms are stylish and cosy; the bar next to the lap pool with a spectacular view of the city on weekends is packed with beautiful people. Enjoy.