The best thing I did during my weekend in Lisbon? Snooping around for street art! If you’re just as into street art as I am you probably know that Lisbon is one of the best street art cities of the world. That’s why I was so excited to check out this side of the Portuguese capital. This time I didn’t want to wander the city alone. No, that way I would probably miss out on the best ones, because I’m looking the other way. That’s why I joined a street art tour of the Lisbon Destination Hostels. In retrospect that was a good decision. In only four hours we managed to see six street art hotspots and our guide told us everything you need to know about Lisbon street art and the background stories. In this post I’ll share my favorites with you.
Art with a mission: the psychiatrical hospital
We started out with a good one: the psychiatrical hospital of Lisbon (in Portuguese: Centro Hospitalar Psiquiátrico de Lisboa). Or actually we didn’t came here for the hospital, but for the wall around it. This giant wall has been filled with street art ever since it was offered to the street art scene in honor of the international Day of Mental Health (October 10). Famous artists like Aspen, Nomen and Carvalho were invited to create public art here. Anything was possible as long as it had something to do with the human head. The results are amazing. Some pieces are kind of funny. Take for instance the GoPro-shot of a curious patient. But others are more serious. Through the street art the wall connects the hospital with the outside world.
I saw so many beautiful pieces. And the further I went, the better it got. If I had to choose one favorite, I would probably choose the sad boy with the hoody of the artists Add fuel and Eime. The flower tile background gives it a typical Portuguese vibe. The words in the back spell out Mental Idade which actually has two meaning: mentality and mental age. It’s up to you to choose the one you think suits here.
Location: Rua das Murtas and Rua Bela Vista à Graça, Campo Grande
Must see in Lisbon: CRONO project
The next stop is the world famous CRONO Project, the art piece that made Lisbon famous as street art city. The Portuguese artist Alexander Farto (better known as Vhills) took the initiative in 2010 to rejuvenate old facades of the streets in Saldanha with art. Vhills didn’t do this just by himself. He invited famous artists like the Italian artist BLU and the Brazilian mastermind Os Gemeos to help him. The results are amazing. Buildings are used as canvas for giant pieces that stretch out over facades and through windows. And they’re not just for entertainment, they have a serious message for the oil and gas multinationals of this world. Those companies are only in it for the money and they suck the world dry by doing so. A theme that’s still current these days.
Location: Avenida Fontes Pereira de Melo, Saldanha
Wall of Fame: Amoreiras
The third stop is the foundation of the street art in Lisbon: the Amoreiras wall. The place where it all started in 1995. Local artists saw this wall as the perfect canvas for their works. This probably has something to do with the width of the wall as it stretches out over a kilometer. Some even say that this is the longest street art wall of the Iberian peninsula. Because it’s so popular you see layers over layers and pieces over pieces. Everyone wants a spot on this wall. As I made my way along the wall I really liked the political pieces, often inspired by the economical crisis of the last years. Examples are Pray for Portugal and As marionetas de Merckel. This last piece shows the German chancellor Angela Merkel as a puppet player leading the Portuguese ministers. It was created a couple of weeks before the visit of Merkel in 2012 to Lisbon.
Location: Conselheiro Fernando de Sousa, between the Marquês de Pombal square and the Amoreiras Shopping Centre
Small Lisbon underground
After a morning full with impressive murals it was time for something light and breezy and we found that in an unexpected place: in a pedestrian subway of the Alcântara-Mar station. Usually these are sketchy tunnels who reek, but in this case we ended up at a colorful gallery full with soft colors. Exactly the vibe the initiators wanted to show. The street art was a way of rejuvenating the subway area of Alcântara. The walls show the highlights Lisbon is known for. I saw the Ponte de 25 Abril (that actually runs above the tunnel), the Alfama area and the typical tram 28. I could immediately ‘check off’ what I’ve already seen and what not.
Location: Alcântara-Mar station
Creative hotspot: LX factory
The former textile factory ‘LX factory’ is one of the hippest places in Lisbon. The atmosphere is so relaxed. You find here all sorts of little design shops, organic & vegetarian restaurants and one quite famous bookstore: Livraria Ler Devagar. I definitely recommend to take a look inside this shop, although the employees of the store don’t like the nosy tourists that much. Something you will also find at LX factory is street art. Most works are created here during the WOOL Urban Art Festival in 2012, but in the years after that new works still appeared. I really liked the hawk in a suit, a great satire to the modern capitalism.
Location: Rua Rodrigues de Faria
Artist in the spotlight: Vhills
As you’ve read in this article, Lisbon has some great street art. But there is one artist in particular that really stuck in my mind: Vhills. I told you about his famous CRONO Project, but it didn’t end there. Vhills also focused on rejuvenating other run down area in the city and he developed an unique style to show his works. Of course he uses spray cans, but Vhills also uses a hammer and chisel to turn old factory walls into relief portraits. Amazing, don’t you think? You can find his works in the area of Alcântara.
Would you go on a street art tour in Lisbon?