A local’s guide to Lisbon Street Art

Street art is very popular nowadays. Those who illegaly paint the city are no longer seen as vandals. In the last decade, people changed their minds about street art and street artists. Street art emerged about five decades ago in the United States. It first appeared in Philadelphia and then throve in the city of New York. Urban art evolved thanks to the young, they’ve created a new and original form of expression, claiming a communication space. They’ve shown their creative habilities, building collective identities, new languages and forms of communication.

Despite its initial criticisms, it is a form of art that lived on and now is stronger and more present than ever! It expanded throughout the world. I’ve wrote an article about Paris street art, which is why I thought that Lisbon also deserved a similar article, since there are so many incredible Portuguese street artists! Read on and find out a local’s guide to Lisbon street art!

How is street art received in Lisbon?

Street art was initially pursued by the authorities that considered it was pure vandalism that needed to be erradicated. Street art was identified as a form of pollution and violence. This perspective gave it even more importance! It not only has survived, it has spread all around the world.

Nowadays, you can’t freely paint wherever and whenever you want. You need an authorization from the city council. You have to present a project, and then it decides whether or not it is valuable for the city aesthetics. If you get caught painting the city without an authorization, you can get fined or even go to jail. Also, some of the street art works are erased and washed away but new street art works keep appearing over and over again! This is why it is a unique way of discovering the city, new messages and drawings keep on showing up everyday.

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On the one hand, the city of Lisbon is at war with taggers that make meaningless graffitis around the city of their signature. On the other hand, several stunning pieces of art show up every week and turn the city into an open air museum. This is why street art is Lisbon is much more well-received today than it was a few decades ago. After the revolution of April, 25 of 1974, mural paintings related to politics started to appear. Today, the city council supports the artists. There’s even a street art gallery next to the emblematic Elevador da Glória.

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> Read about the Carnation Revolution.

Where are the best places to see Lisbon street art?

Street art works are kind of temporary, because one never knows how long they are going to stay on the walls or how fast they will age. This is why the routes to see Lisbon street art are always changing. Some works disappear, while new ones show up in unexpected places. But, don’t worry, here are some of the best places to see Lisbon street art. These are the amazing works of art that still remain for you to admire!

    • In Chiado, you will find the “Utopia63” masterpiece, created by the Brazilian artist Oliveiros Rodrigues da Silva Junior, on Calçada do Carmo. The scene depicted takes place at Rossio Station.

> Join our Chiado tour to discover the area and enjoy the sunset with a local guide.

    • In Alfama, you will find many anazing street art pieces. Near the Sé Catedral, a mural called “Cavaleiros da Posta Real” was created by the street artists Nuno Saraiva. It definitely gives a special touch to the area. The artist turned the white wall into a canvas and gave the people a street art masterpiece. Then, on Calçada do Menino Jesus, the street artist Vhils paid tribute to the Fado singer Amália Rodrigues. He used the traditional Portuguese cobblestone pavements for this creation in 2015. On Travessa das Merceeiras, he stone carved a portrait. Walk the Alfama neighborhood and try to spot these stunning street art works!

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> Read this article about Alfama to discover some of the best things to see in the neighborhood.
> Check our top 5 fun facts about Alfama.
> Join our Alfama tour to discover all the best places.

    • Mouraria is another important neighborhood for Lisbon street art scene. Close to the Castelo São Jorge, there’s a car park that looks like an authentic art gallery! Several Portuguese street artists have painted the walls of the car park. You are allowed to enter to admire their works for free. Then, on the Escadinhas de São Cristóvão, different artists also created a mural depicting the traditional Fado vadio.
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    • In Belém, the street artist Bordalo II combined painting and sculpture to create an amazing art piece. For his creations, he uses stuff he founds in the trash. He brings three dimensional animals to life while giving ordinary items, that are supposed to be trash, a second life. You can find his famous raccoon behind the Belém Cultural Centre. At the Carriages Museum (Museu dos Coches), you will find a mural that represents the epic poem “Os Lusíadas” by Luís de Camões. This place was chosen for this art work because it is from there that the vessels of the Age of Discoveries sailed away.
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> Join our Belém tour to experience the city in the company of a local.
> Read our article about a walk in Belém.
> Check our top 5 fun facts about Belém.
>
Learn more about the Age of Discoveries in this article.

  • Don’t miss one of the best street art creations in the world! Several street artists united for this project: the Brazilians Os Gémeos, the Italians Blue and Eric Il Cane and the Spanish Sam3. In one of the busiest avenues of the city, Avenida Fontes Pereira de Melo, there are three empty old buildings that were used as canvas for their masterpiece! You will also find plenty of street art works in Bairro Alto! Walk the district, look for the most incredible works and share them in the comments.
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Who are the most famous street artists in Lisbon?

Lisbon is one of the major cities when it comes to street art. Discovering Lisbon street art implies you getting to know about its greatest artists. Let me introduce you to some of the best. While walking the city of Lisbon, you will be able to recognize a few of their works!

The stonecutter, Vhils

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Alexandre Farto, known as Vhils, is a Portuguese street artist. He’s internationally known for his unique masterpieces. Vhils leaves his mark by stone carving the walls of the cities. Thanks to a chiaroscuro technique and the use of several tools – such as a pneumatic hammer, hammer stone and explosives -, he carves the portrait of people he meets in the streets. His works look like black and white photographs where the details of the faces are pretty impressive! Vhils has his own style, which is why his creations are admired and appreciated by many!

The “recycler”, Bordalo II

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You’ve probably already seen some of his works in magazines or documentaries. Artur Bordalo, known as Bordalo II, is the grandson of the Portuguese painter Real Bordalo. His works are based on the saying “One man’s trash is the treasure of another“, because he recycles items he founds in the trash for his creations. The materials he collects from the trash reflect the consumerism, the wastage and the materialism of the people. For instance, for his Big Trash Animals project, he creates three-dimensional animals out of the trash. One can interpet this work as an awareness message about the main victims of our actions. Bordalo II is definitely an artist you should know about!

The poet, Tamara Alves

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There are very few women in the street art universe. But Tamara Alves is one of the most important figures of it! The Portuguese street artist enjoys drawing the female figure in communion with nature. She believes the body can express many things, this is why it is her favorite subject. Her creations are very poetic. For Tamara Alves, the world is her favorite canvas!

This local guide’s to Lisbon street art is now over! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article and that it has inspired you! I’ve shared with you my favorite Portuguese street artists. Feel free to share yours! Walk the city and try to find some street art works. They will definitely turn your visit of the city into an even more joyful experience. Admire the pieces of art and try to interpret the messages the artists are trying to send to the world. It’s so much fun! Don’t hesitate to contact us if you need further information about anything. See you soon in Lisbon!

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