Archive for December, 2009

The Best of Go Lisbon in 2009

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

Go Lisbon Blog

2009 was a great year for Lisbon and a great year for We were recommended in Lonely Planet, New York magazine, and London’s The Times, and currently have quite a large number of followers who use this site as their primary source for Lisbon (and Portugal)-related news. According to Google, GoLisbon ranks higher than even the official Lisbon tourism site, so as the most visited and complete tool for Lisbon and Portugal information, we hope to remain a relevant and trusted source throughout 2010.
Below is a list of the 25 biggest news, or the most visited or Twittered posts of GoLisbon Blog throughout 2009, in case you missed any of it:

1. Lisbon’s Twin City
2. The First Dog and the First Photographer
3. The Eyeful Tower
4. A Long Luxurious Weekend
5. The Portuguese Bombshell
6. The 10 Newest Shops in Bairro Alto
7. A Lisbon-style Las Vegas
8. Lisbon’s “haven for the artsy set”
9. “One of the coolest cities in Europe”
10. Lisbon’s Most Graphic Photos: From a Peep Show to a Public Urinal
11. The 7 Portuguese Wonders of the World
12. Hollywood moving to Portugal
13. Old is the New New in Lisbon
14. 5 Alternatives to Lisbon’s Beaches
15. Lisbon is the Setting of Upcoming Brad Pitt and Al Pacino Movie
16. A Trip to the Azores
17. Portugal’s Most Famous Product You’ve Never Heard Of
18. Lisbon Wins Europe’s Best Destination in the World Travel Awards
19. Lisbon’s 5 Best Brunches
20. The Portuguese Diamond: The World’s Most Valuable Gem and Other Portuguese Treasures
21. The Chef of the Year and a new Michelin star
22. Lisbon in New York – Part II
23. Lisbon (and GoLisbon) in “New York” Magazine
24. Lisbon 2000-2009: The Decade in Review
25. A Lisbon shopping list: 10 Shops for your Gifts

Lisbon 2010 Preview

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

Lisbon in 2010

A New Praça do Comércio
As you can see in the photo above and can read in a previous post, Lisbon’s biggest square is being renovated. It will have a new pavement, will remove traffic from two of its sides, and plans to attract new businesses to the buildings under its arches. Originally the deadline for completion of the works was October of 2010 but City Hall has anticipated that for April or May, in time for one of the city’s biggest events of the year:

The Pope Visit
The Pope will be in Portugal from May 11th to 14th. He’ll of course be in Fatima, but will also celebrate mass in Porto and Lisbon. In Lisbon it will take place in Comércio Square.

Rock in Rio-Lisboa Returns
The self-titled biggest music event in the world that first started in Rio but that has moved to Lisbon will return to the Portuguese capital in 2010. It takes place every two years in Lisbon, and this year you can expect another series of concerts by many other the world’s chart-topping artists, bands, and world-famous DJs. So far only Muse has been confirmed, but expect the lineup to be revealed throughout the first months of the year. Rock in Rio-Lisboa in 2010 happens on May 21st, 22nd, 27, 28, and 29.

100 Years of the Portuguese Republic
When the last Portuguese king was assassinated in 1908, it was the beginning of the end of the Portuguese monarchy, giving rise to a new Portuguese republic in 1910. One hundred years later Lisbon will be celebrating the event throughout the city in October, with special events taking place downtown by Municipal Square, Comercio Square, and Belém.

The New Popular Art Museum
It closed a few years ago for its building to be transformed into a museum devoted to the Portuguese language and culture similar to the one in São Paulo (Brazil), but after a petition to bring the old museum back, the minister of culture has recently announced that the Museu de Arte Popular will be back in 2010. This is a museum dedicated to the traditional arts and crafts of Portugal, originally displayed by region. Its old home in a building between the Discoveries Monument and Belem Tower will be renovated to once again welcome the collection.

Parque Mayer Gains New Life
Parque Mayer is a sort of small Lisbon-style Broadway from the 20th century. It’s a group of old theaters around the corner from Avenida da Liberdade that have had a slow death over the years but that have also had rehabilitation plans for quite some time. Some of those plans were quite ambitious, including one by architect Frank Gehry for which he was paid 2.2 million euros. But the project has been rethought and it will now be less monumental, although perhaps a little more tasteful. It will include a connection to the Botanical Garden nearby and with works throughout 2010, it is hoped to be complete by 2011 and bring new life and theater magic to the center of the city.

Casa dos Bicos Reopens as the José Saramago Foundation
One of Lisbon’s most curious buildings due to its spiked façade will now have a new function. Casa dos Bicos in Alfama has recently been cleaned up and will soon reopen to serve as the José Saramago Foundation, which will reportedly include a library of the Nobel Prize-winning author.

Lisbon 2000-2009: The Decade in Review

Thursday, December 17th, 2009


A recent cover story of TIME magazine called the almost-over first decade of the new millennium “The Decade From Hell.” For Lisbon and Portugal in general however, it was not so bad. Not in economic terms, since the country suffered with the global crisis as much as everyone else, but the last ten years was a period of positive change in several other areas in the city and the country. With the handing over of Macau to China at the end of 1999, Lisbon was for the first time in five centuries just the capital of Portugal, and not of an empire. It had no choice but to better integrate itself fully into Europe, and that’s what it did from day 1. It is now a much more progressive, forward-thinking city, with a larger number of cultural attractions that have also helped it increase its number of tourists and revenue.
Below is a list of the major events that marked Lisbon and all of Portugal from 2000 to 2009, from politics to cultural events and international distinctions, to major local milestones:

-Lisbon starts the new millennium as the capital of the European Union for six months, just days after handing Macau over to China. For the first time in five centuries it does not have an overseas colony, and celebrates 500 years of its discovery of Brazil.

Porto is named European capital of Culture, leading to massive renovations around the city, including an expanded airport which eventually wins a Best European Airport award by Airports Council International, and opens a new state-of-the-art metro.

-The Douro Valley and the historic center of Guimarães are declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

-The Euro is the new currency of Portugal, together with eleven other European countries.

-American president George W. Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar meet in Portugal’s Azores for a controversial summit discussing the start of the Iraq war.

-Portugal hosts Euro2004, the European soccer championships in new stadiums in eight cities: Lisbon, Porto, Coimbra, Faro, Aveiro, Leiria, Braga, and Guimarães. The national team reaches the finals for the first time but loses to Greece.

-The Azores’ Pico landscape is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

-Prime Minister Durão Barroso resigns to take over as President of the European Commission, leading to early elections in Portugal. While taking over the most powerful office of the European Union gave him an international status, his image at home was greatly damaged, in part due to his allowing of the Iraq war summit to take place in the Azores. His party is defeated by the Socialists who win an overwhelming majority.

-Lisbon hosts the MTV European Music Awards with Madonna opening the show with the first performance of her new single “Hung Up.”

-The Dakar Rally starts in Lisbon for the first time.

Lisbon Casino opens to rival the largest one in Europe, in nearby Estoril.

-The New 7 Wonders of the World are announced in Lisbon.

-After threats that the world-class Berardo Collection of modern art would move to Paris, the Portuguese government reaches an agreement to keep it in Lisbon and provides space for the opening of the new Berardo Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art.

-The Lisbon Treaty was signed by the leaders of all European Union countries in Lisbon, reviewing and restructuring the EU constitutional framework.

-A year of milestones and special celebrations: It’s the 20th anniversary since the fire that destroyed much of Lisbon’s historic Chiado district, 250 years since the renovation of Baixa after the Great Earthquake, 10 years since Lisbon hosted the World Fair, and Portugal’s greatest film director Manoel De Oliveira turned 100 years old as the world’s oldest active film director.

-Portugal remembers its cultural heritage around the world with the selection of the 7 Portuguese Wonders of the World, inspired by the announcement of the new 7 Wonders of the World two years earlier.

-Lisbon receives the exhibition “Encopassing the Globe: Portugal and the World in the 15th and 16th Centuries” organized by the Smithsonian Institute and previously shown in Washington DC.

-Lisbon finally opens its Design and Fashion Museum.

-Lisbon wins Europe’s Leading Destination, Best European City Break, and European Cruise Destination at the World Travel Awards.

New Year’s Celebrations in Lisbon (They’re Free!)

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

New Year's Eve in LisbonLisbon’s biggest New Year’s Eve party usually takes place in Praça do Comércio, the large square that opens to the river. That’s where most go to see the fireworks at midnight, and stay for the music concerts. This year however, the party must be moved elsewhere, as that square is undergoing renovation until at least next April. So the chosen location was Jardim Vieira Portuense, the lawns by Jerónimos Monastery in the Belém district. Before the fireworks at midnight there will be a Beatles tribute concert (don’t ask), while in the first minutes of 2010 there will be a concert by Xutos & Pontapés which is one of Portugal’s biggest rock bands.
On the opposite side of the city, in the Eastern district of Parque das Nações there will also be a fireworks show, this time cascading down Vasco da Gama Tower. As GoLisbon previously told you about, that tower is being turned into a hotel, but despite all the works around it, it will still be able to continue its annual fireworks tradition for the sixth consecutive year.
If you’re not recovering from a champagne hangover on January 1st, head to the city’s cathedral in the afternoon. A free concert by the New Zealand Choir & Orchestra will take place at 5PM, with 50 performers who have offered concerts at most of the great cathedrals of the world since their first international tour in 1990 (check out their website at

Lisbon’s Christmas Pastry Shop is 180 Years Old

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

Confeitaria Nacional, Lisbon

Confeitaria Nacional” is the oldest pastry shop/confectionery in downtown Lisbon. It opened in 1829 and became popular especially during Christmas time when it sells the specialty “Bolo Rei.” “Bolo Rei” (literally “King Cake”) is known as Portugal’s traditional Christmas cake, but its origins are actually in France. That’s where the recipe was brought from in the mid-19th century, by the Castanheiro family which is still behind the now-classic shop in Praça da Figueira. It’s been copied all over Portugal but the original, and many swear the best, is still in Lisbon’s Confeitaria Nacional. The secret is strictly following the original recipe which has stayed with the family for almost two centuries.
Over the years the shop has won international prizes in cities like Vienna and Paris, and its reputation led to the Portuguese royal family to make it their official baker.
For this year’s 180th anniversary, there is no special celebration going on, but the exterior of the shop is decorated in the Christmas spirit, and Lisboetas and tourists are lining up at the counter to get their own “Bolo Rei” or to try one of the sweet pastries. Upstairs is a tea room, and a separate section serving a daily special menu of traditional Portuguese dishes at lunch time.

“Manifesto” – Lisbon’s New Star Chef Restaurant in the City’s Design District

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

Restaurante Manifesto, Lisbon

UPDATE: This restaurant has closed.

2009 should go down in Lisbon history as the “Year of the Chef.” Practically every star chef in the city opened a new restaurant this year, and one of them, José Avillez, earned a Michelin star for the legendary Tavares Restaurant. Among the most promising new openings are Henrique Sa Pessoa’s Alma, Ljubomir Stanisic’s 100 Maneiras, and Vitor Sobral’s Tasca da Esquina, and since this week you can add Luís Baena’s Manifesto.
It’s located in the Santos neighborhood which since being designated Lisbon’s Design District four years ago has attracted a large number of stylish new shops and restaurants.
Luís Baena has worked on his culinary talent in Brussels, Hong Kong, and Rio de Janeiro with world-renowned chefs such as Paul Bocuse, before returning to Lisbon and working at the Terraço Restaurant on the rooftop of the Tivoli Lisboa Hotel.
His new gourmet restaurant will accommodate around 50 people and will offer a different menu for lunch and dinner. It will be cheaper at lunchtime, but remain reasonably-priced for dinner. It will present an open kitchen and a glassed wall to the street offering views of the exterior, the garden-park of Largo de Santos.


Address: Largo de Santos, 9C
Tel. 213 903 583
Closed on Sundays and Mondays

A Lisbon Christmas Shopping List: 10 Shops for Your Gifts

Monday, December 7th, 2009

Pelcor, Lisbon shopWhether you’re visiting Portugal around the holidays and are looking for an “only in Lisbon” gift to take back home, or live in the city and going through the stressful Christmas shopping sprees, you’ll want to check out some of Lisbon’s most authentic shops. While 3 out of every 4 Christmas gifts are either a book, DVD, music, or clothing, there are countless other more imaginative choices. In Lisbon, these are ten places to go for something different:

Antes e Depois
Travessa da Espera, 47 (Bairro Alto)
Phone: 934 305 562
This time capsule of a shop in Bairro Alto offers traditional Portuguese toys from the days before video games. Perfect for finding gifts for children or the child in every adult, the colorful objects come in retro-pop packagings and offer hours of playtime — or can even be used as a decorative piece!

Casa Havaneza
Largo do Chiado, 25 (Chiado)
Phone: 213 420 340
Buying gifts for men is usually a little more difficult than for women. To avoid getting a tie that just may end up not being to his taste, visit this classic Lisbon shop which was first known as a cigar store in the 19th century. The exclusive cigars are still there, but there are also some other rather luxurious gifts available such as pens and special bottles of liquor.

Claudio Corallo
Rua Cecilio da Sousa, 85 (Principe Real)
Phone: 213 862 158
Specializing in chocolate and coffee from Portugal’s former African colony of São Tomé and Principe, this shop offers the perfect gift for the more gourmet-oriented or sweet-toothed member of your family.

Jimmy Portuguese Styleshop
Rua das Flores, 100 (Chiado)
Phone: 918 984 695
For 100% Portuguese design pieces in a variety of shapes and colors, visit this shop around the corner from the Bairro Alto Hotel in Chiado. It includes fashion accessories and contemporary versions of classic Portuguese icons.

Rua Dom Pedro V, 111 (Principe Real)
Phone: 213 467 011
As one of Lisbon’s best gourmet shops, Moy guarantees that you’ll find a variety of Portuguese and international products. From cheeses to caviar, to Brazilian and Angolan coffees, you’ll be able to create the most appetizing gift basket in Lisbon.

Rua da Misericórdia, 100 (Chiado)
Phone: 213 472 293
This recent shop in Chiado specializes in 100% Portuguese cowhide handbags, all handmade in a factory in Sintra. They come in rather large sizes, making them perfect for those women who must carry their entire life inside their bags and who prefer exclusive items.

Rua das Pedras Negras, 32 (Baixa)
Phone: 213 049 727
Cork is one of Portugal’s most exported goods (in fact, the country is the world’s largest exporter of it), so there’s nothing more Portuguese than a cork product. That’s what may have inspired Pelcor to offer a large variety of products completely made of cork, from handbags to footwear, to even a few housewares.

UPDATE: This shop has closed.
Travessa da Espera, 17 (Bairro Alto)
Phone: 211 560 148
Finding creations from top Portuguese fashion designers has become easier since the opening of Porconceito. This Bairro Alto shop offers stylish sunglasses, purses, perfumes, and fashion accessories at quite reasonable prices, considering their origin.

Tom Tom Shop
Rua de O Século, 4A (Bairro Alto)
Phone: 213 479 733
You won’t have more fun shopping at any other store in Lisbon. By the entrance are a few humorous gifts while towards the back are all kinds of very original houseware pieces. From lighting to clocks, to kitchen utensils, you won’t resist buying something for yourself and plenty of other people on your list.

The Wrong Shop
UPDATE: This shop has closed.
Calçada do Sacramento, 25 (Chiado)
Phone: 213 433 197
While Christmas may be a time for peace and spreading love around, it’s also time to be completely honest. So for that there’s an “I Hate You” gift at The Wrong Shop in Chiado! Known for its quirky gifts and souvenirs, it’s now showcasing items for everyone, whether you love them or hate them! It can be a merry Christmas indeed!

Los Angeles Times: Lisbon is the City that Rarely Yawns

Saturday, December 5th, 2009

Lisbon club
Gadi Harel, Los Angeles Times

This weekend’s Los Angeles Times travel section highlights Lisbon and its nightlife. It finds that although “New York is the city that never sleeps, Lisbon is the city that rarely yawns.” The author starts the evening at the cafés in Chiado, then moves on to try the famous seafood restaurants of Rua das Portas de Santo Antão, Gambrinus and Solmar. The after-dinner destination is of course the Bairro Alto district where “it’s suddenly Mardi Gras,” or Los Angeles’ “Sunset Strip as a block party on a Saturday night.” Also recommended is the city’s “plaintive, melancholy sound” in Alfama‘s Fado restaurants, which seems to be “back in vogue with the younger set.” As everyone else does, the final destination of the night is the riverfront club Lux, where it’s time for dancing or star-gazing at the rooftop terrace until morning.
You can read the entire article at the Los Angeles Times website: In Lisbon the Night is Forever Young

Lisbon: From Fado to Fashion

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

Lisboa - El Pais

Spain is naturally one of the countries that most visits Lisbon, as it’s just across a border that’s essentially imaginary, with the open borders policy set by the European Union’s Schengen agreement. At around Christmas time, New Year’s, and Easter, it’s quite common to hear as much Castilian in Lisbon’s Chiado as Portuguese. So perhaps anticipating a large Spanish migration to Lisbon at this time of the year, Spain’s “El Pais” just published a 24-hour guide to the Portuguese capital.
Entitled “From Fado to Fashion,” the article focuses on the city’s trendier side, from its alternative shops in the Principe Real and Bairro Alto districts, to the new Design and Fashion Museum. That’s not the only recent museum to get special mention, as the Orient Museum and Berardo Museum are also considered unmissable.
Overall, this is a list of recommendations that show how Lisbon has become much more of a globalized city while also managing to reinvent itself as a continuously authentic place.
You may read the entire article at the El País website. It’s in Spanish but you may always use the Google translator to read it in your native language: Del Fado a lo ‘Fashion’

Lisbon Dresses Up For Christmas

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

Last year’s Christmas decorations in Lisbon weren’t exactly at their most tasteful, unashamedly commercial with logos of corporate sponsors taking over the city’s most emblematic spaces such as Rossio and Comércio squares. Many people spoke out against it, so perhaps for that reason this year’s lighting doesn’t have company logos attached to them. There are almost 40 streets in the center of the city covered in all shapes and colors, with some going a little overboard, but it’s still an improvement over last year. It’s been reported that it’s a total of almost 2.5 million ecological lights, and they’ll be hanging over the city until January 6th. That’s also the date until which the city’s Christmas tree will be on display, once again standing at the top of Edward VII Park. It’s still not a real tree and it’s no longer claiming to be Europe’s tallest, but it’s still a show of lights that attracts families and tourists.
Here are a few images of Lisbon’s streets celebrating the holiday season this year:

Christmas in Lisbon

Christmas in Lisbon

Christmas in Lisbon

Christmas in Lisbon

Christmas in Lisbon

Christmas in Lisbon

Christmas in Lisbon