Archive for April, 2010

Fado: The Music of Lisbon to Become the Music of the World?

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Fado, LisbonWhile most people are familiar with World Heritage Sites — the places and monuments around the world of great cultural significance (Lisbon has two: Belém Tower and Jerónimos Monastery) — many don’t yet know that UNESCO is now also protecting “intangible heritage,” meaning cultural traditions of international importance. The tango has already been singled out for that honor a few months ago, and come 2011 the same may happen to Lisbon’s Fado. UNESCO will be studying that possibility this upcoming August and Lisbon’s music may be on the list late next year. Lisbon is one of the few cities in the world with its own musical style, one that has come to symbolize the soul of the entire country. While its origins are unknown, historians claim it is the blending of songs sung by homesick sailors at sea, combined with the slave dances of Brazil, and the Moorish chants heard in Lisbon’s Mouraria throughout the centuries. Fado (meaning “fate”) was originally singled out as a musical genre in the 18th century when it was heard in the brothels of Lisbon, usually sung by the lower classes. With the emergence of famous Fado singers over the years (first Maria Severa and then Amália Rodrigues in the 20th century), Fado went slightly upmarket and spread throughout Portugal and the world. Today’s young Fado singers such as Mariza top world music charts and perform all over the globe. Unlike tango, it is not a dance, but more like dramatic, poetic singing. For more information on Fado, see GoLisbon’s Fado page.

Lisbon’s Biggest Square Reopens, Renovated

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

Comercio Square, Lisbon
Lisbon’s Comércio Square, under construction

It seems that over the past 10 years, Praça do Comércio (Lisbon’s monumental riverfront square) has never been without any construction work. First it was the opening of a tunnel for a new subway station, then works on the area’s sewage system, and then a brand new pavement and the closing to traffic of two of its sides. But finally this Saturday it will be completely open for everyone to sit and admire the surroundings. From the square you can gaze at the immensity of the river, admire the monumental architecture of the triumphal arch, and relax as you watch the ferries cross the Tagus.
For now, what’s new is a pavement that covers the square from East to West, removing traffic on two sides and providing space for café tables (cars and the city’s emblematic trams still circulate on the north and south sides of the square). Later this year the surrounding arcaded buildings will have new shops and a new restaurant is scheduled to open in October.
The first major event to take place in the renovated Praça do Comércio is an outdoor mass by Pope Benedict XVI this May 11th (a day to avoid this part of town for the non-devout). Activities from then until October will be the cleaning of the buildings’ façades and the addition of seats for tourists and locals to enjoy one of Lisbon’s grandest spaces.

Enjoying Moonlit Lisbon at “Portas do Sol”

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Portas do Sol Café-Bar, Lisbon

“Portas do Sol” may mean “the sun’s gateway,” but it’s also the name of one of Lisbon’s best new cafés with fantastic city views day or night (as GoLisbon told you about here), and now also a happening bar on weekends. So while you go to “the sun’s gateway” to enjoy Lisbon’s sunny skies and a light meal, now you can also observe the moon- and floodlit city from there as you sip on cocktails. As if that wasn’t enough to get you in a chilled-out mood, DJs provide the beats for an even more enjoyable ambience.
As the nights become longer, the temperatures rise, and rain becomes less frequent, a roster of DJs is being planned for the upcoming weeks, and we can already imagine it to become one of the hottest spots to be this summer.
There’s a spacious indoor area, but what’s likely to be taken over first are the couches on the terrace, or the tables to enjoy a midnight snack and drinks. The guest DJs arrive at 10PM and stay until 2AM. You can reach it by taking tram 28, while Lisbon residents arriving by car can park right underneath the terrace.

Meet “Maria,” Last Name “Bairro Alto” – A Cool New Restaurant and Bar in Lisbon

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

Maria B.A., Lisbon

UPDATE: This restaurant has closed.

“Maria B.A.” is the new kid on one of Bairro Alto‘s quietest blocks, just steps from but not at the center of the neighborhood’s nightlife for which it is famous. It’s part bar, part loungy café and restaurant. It’s a space that allows you to go for lunch, show up for a drink late in the afternoon, or stay for dinner and drinks all night long. Food can be served until midnight, all traditional Portuguese cuisine, with fish, meat, and vegetarian options. As you can tell from these photos, the space is divided into two levels, with the restaurant downstairs and the “chill out” area upstairs. The bar serves good-old crowd favorites like beer, shots, and caipirinhas but is also strong on cocktails.
Opening times are from 12 to 3PM for lunch, then again at 7:30PM until closing time which is 2AM on weekdays and 3AM on Fridays and Saturdays. It closes on Sundays.
You’ll see it on number 48-50 of Travessa dos Inglesinhos.

Maria B.A., Lisbon

Maria B.A., Lisbon

10 Lisbon Monuments to Be Photographed in Front Of

Friday, April 16th, 2010

Here are 10 Lisbon landmarks that you’ll want to be photographed in front of, for “Look at me in Lisbon” memories, to be shared on your social media profiles:

Basilica da Estrela
Basilica da Estrela – The city’s prettiest church

Belém Tower
Belem Tower – The city’s icon

Carmo Convent
Carmo Convent – Romantic Gothic ruins

Castle of St. George
Castle of St. George – The city’s crown

Discoveries Monument
Discoveries Monument – The city’s heroes

Jeronimos Monastery
Jeronimos Monastery – World Heritage monument

National Pantheon
National Pantheon – Standing out in the city’s skyline

Rossio Station
Rossio Station – The characteristic Manueline architecture

São Bento Palace
Ṣo Bento Palace РThe seats of power

Triumphal Arch
Triumphal Arch – The city’s gateway

Lisbon to Open a Museum Of the Discoveries

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Discoveries Monument, Lisbon

Lisbon is already known as the city of the explorers, the former home of famous names like Vasco da Gama, Prince Henry the Navigator, and Christopher Columbus who all studied how to navigate the seas in the city. But although it has several attractions recalling that “golden age” such as the Martime Museum, the Ancient Art Museum, the Discoveries Monument, and the Orient Museum, there has never been one place completely devoted to telling that epic story of “giving new worlds to the world.” However, it has just been announced that there will be a “Museum of the Discoveries” in the space currently occupied by the Archaeology Museum which will be moving to another building not far way.
That space is one of the wings of the Jeronimos Monastery, itself an emblematic monument from the Age of Discovery, classified as a World Heritage Site.
The museum will include pieces currently seen at other museums, and if past reports remain true, it will also feature multimedia displays about the spread of the Portuguese culture around the world, and the meeting of European and indigenous cultures in all corners of the globe.
In the meantime, if you’re curious about the theme of world exploration and Lisbon’s pioneering role in it, see our page about the Age of Discovery.

ABC’s “The Bachelorette” Looks for Romance in Lisbon

Friday, April 9th, 2010

The Bachelorette on ABC

The ABC network (American Broadcasting Company) is coming to Lisbon to film one of its highest-rated shows. That’s “The Bachelorette” which has aired on the network since 2003 where 25 men compete for the love of an attractive young woman, with one bachelor being eliminated in every episode until one remains at the end (and who just may or may not be proposed to by the bachelorette).
This sixth season of the reality show will begin airing next month, and filming is going to take place in the upcoming weeks in Lisbon, bringing a crew of eighty people to the city. Because the show is all about love and romance, the chosen sites to be featured on the show will be the romantic ramparts of the Castle of St. George and of course Sintra which is recognized as one of the most fairytale places in the world.
This season’s bachelorette is a 25 year-old from San Francisco, so considering the similarities between Lisbon and that Californian city, she just may feel right at home, and perhaps even fall for “the one” in the Portuguese capital. To see whether or not that happens, you must watch “The Bachelorette” every Monday night on ABC if you live in the United States.

Top Chefs Get Together For Lisbon’s Top Gastronomic Event

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

Peixe em LisboaLisbon’s top gastronomic event naturally has to be about fish. Portugal’s strong historical and cultural relationship with the oceans together with the vast Atlantic coastline mean that there is always fresh seafood on the plate, and Lisbon has been celebrating the joys of cooking fish over the past three years. The third annual edition of “Peixe em Lisboa – Fish and Flavours” takes place this month, starting on the 10th and ending on the 18th, in the Portugal Pavilion in Parque das Nações.
The event consists of several restaurants and famous chefs putting together cooking shows and offering gourmet products and the opportunity to taste some excellent food. In the gourmet section you can also buy cheeses, coffees, chocolates, jams, olive oils, or vinegars, making this a complete gastronomic experience.
This year the event will also have a slight Brazilian flavor, with some of the former colony’s hottest chefs crossing the Atlantic to demonstrate their talent. One of them is Alex Atala of São Paulo’s “D.O.M.” which is considered to be one of the world’s best restaurants.
Another international presence is that of Joan Roca, a Spanish chef who’s been awarded three Michelin stars.
Tickets for the event cost 15 euros which also get you a free drink and a free 5-euro tasting at the restaurant of your choice. All other tastings are paid separately.
Full event details at

Lisbon’s Annual International Independent Film Festival Is Back This Month

Monday, April 5th, 2010

Indie LisboaOne of Lisbon’s biggest annual events is back this month. It’s the city’s independent film festival which is in its 7th edition and will once again present feature length movies, shorts, documentaries, and animation. “IndieLisboa” will take place from April 22 to May 2nd, for a total of eleven full days of screenings at Cinema São Jorge in Avenida da Liberdade, as well as at Cinema Londres, Cinema City Classic Alvalade, and Culturgest, all located uptown.
The festival is divided into nine sections, including international and national competitions, and will include special activities related to the world of independent films. This year’s special guests will be Dutch film director Heddy Honigmann (who will be honored with a full retrospective of her work), and the director of the Berlin Festival’s “Forum,” Christoph Terhechte.
Tickets for each screening are just 3.5 euros each, making the festival and the joys of independent cinema accessible to everyone. Films are shown in their original language but are subtitled. Get complete festival information at