Posts About 'People'

One of Lisbon’s Most Popular Viewpoints Has a New Name and Resident

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

Miradouro da Graça, Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen, Lisboa

One of Lisbon’s most popular viewpoints has been given a makeover and a new official name. Miradouro da Graça is a terrace in front of a church that has been a favorite hangout in the last few years thanks to its kiosk cafe that stays open until very late, and above all, its fantastic city views. One of its most famous fans was Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen, a local poet who died in 2004 but who spent many of her days admiring the city from this viewpoint. To honor the writer, Lisbon has now placed her bust on the terrace looking out to the city, and renamed the site “Miradouro Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen.” Of course everyone will continue to call it “Miradouro da Graça” (or “Graça Viewpoint”), but this will now also be Sophia’s eternal home, with one of her poems dedicated to Lisbon having been placed on a wall next to her bust.

Hollywood Moving to Portugal

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

Algarve beach

It was announced last week that the south of Portugal (Algarve) is the likely home of a future Hollywood studio and theme park created by Universal Studios and CBS Paramount. It would be located in the city of Portimão, with the park costing 550 million euros and the studios around 200 million. The theme park would be about the history of cinema, and would be Universal’s first park in Europe, after the ones it has in Hollywood, Orlando, and Japan. The studios would be run by CBS Paramount, with a projected starting date of 2010, and would include post-production facilities and a “watertank” for the filming of underwater scenes. Portugal is an attractive country for such a project in part because of its near-perfect weather and competitive prices, as well as varied scenery.
Apparently also moving to Portugal is actress Angelina Jolie which the gossip columns have reported this week is also looking for a home in Algarve. Her chosen location seems to be Lagos, with the local media reporting a 10-million euro mansion in that seaside town as the possible future home of the actress.

The Next Portuguese International Pop Stars?

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

Sarah Borges and Mia RoseMove over Nelly Furtado — there are two other girls looking for your title of top-selling Portuguese pop artist on the international stage.
One of them is a descendant of Portuguese immigrants from the Azores just like Furtado although she was born in the United States, while the other’s birthplace was the UK with Lisbon now as a second home. They are Sarah Borges and Mia Rose.

Borges is a 30-year-old singer from Taunton, Massachusetts, who has just released an album through Sugar Hill Records called “The Stars are Out.” It has been given favorable reviews by Rolling Stone magazine and the New York Times, and has a pop-rock sound. This is actually her third album, but the first one to get the attention of the major publications. Her grandparents are all from the Azores (from the island of Terceira on the mother’s side and Faial on the father’s), and the singer claims to have grown up eating mostly Portuguese food and surrounded by Portuguese traditions. Her Portuguese roots also helped her with her college education when she received a Portuguese-American scholarship. This month she starts a nationwide tour to promote her album and has already shot a video for the first single “Do it for Free” (watch it below). She admits she’d love to be the next Nelly Furtado and would like to make it to Portugal soon.

As for Mia Rose, she’s actually already performed in Lisbon (at the Alcantara Cafe). She was born in London and became the most-subscribed musician on YouTube ever, with 3 million viewers a month. Her popularity led to articles in Rolling Stone and The Sun, and has released two singles. There’s no complete album yet, but that should only be a matter of time, as she tries to attract even more fans. You can follow her on her website

More Portuguese Faces in Hollywood

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Freida Pinto, Go Lisbon has just told you about young Portuguese-Americans in Hollywood, and now you can add a few more recently-famous names to the list. Katy Perry, the voice of the recent pop hits “I Kissed a Girl” and “Hot N Cold” is really Katy Pereira. On her birth certificate she’s Katherine Hudson because that’s her father’s last name, but so that she wouldn’t be confused with actress Kate Hudson, she used her Portuguese-American mother’s name instead. Perry is a common “translation” of Pereira, and she’s not the only one — Aerosmith’s Joe Perry and 4 Non Blonde’s Linda Perry are really also Pereiras. They’re descendants of early 20th century Portuguese immigrants who had their names “Americanized” on their arrival in the United States, and other examples include “Rogers” from “Rosa” or “Lazarus” from “Lázaro.”

Another new famous face with a Portuguese last name is Freida Pinto, the actress of this year’s Best Picture Oscar “Slumdog Millionaire.” In an interview published in the February/March issue of the Asian-American lifestyle magazine “Audrey,” Pinto says she’s “completely pure Indian,” but acknowledges that her ancestors were most likely Portuguese: “my forefathers’ forefathers’ forefathers were probably Portuguese and Pinto is brought down from those generations.” The Indian state of Goa was a Portuguese colony for over four centuries until 1961 and last names like Sousa and Fernandes are among the most common in the region today.

See more famous Portuguese people here.

Lisbon’s Latest Public Art

Friday, March 27th, 2009

Public art in Lisbon

As you walk around Lisbon you’ll find countless buildings covered in scaffolding, as most of the city’s properties in the old historical center are in desperate need of renovation. On a couple of those works are curious pieces that at first you’re not sure what to think of. They’re art installations by contemporary artists, and the latest one is found on Rua do Alecrim, a street going from the Cais do Sodré riverfront up to the Chiado district. It’s the creation of one of Portugal’s top young artists Joana Vasconcelos and it’s supposed to be a tapeworm. Yes, a tapeworm made of raffia climbing the building.

The group behind these projects is called “Art Building” and its goal is to bring some life, art, and color to construction sites. Once Vasconcelos’ tapeworm is removed at the end of this year, that building will be a hotel.

Vasconcelos’ first major eye-catching piece was a much talked-about chandelier completely made of tampons which she called “The Bride.” She represented Portugal with that work at the Venice Biennale in 2005, and it was also hung in Lisbon’s Lux club.

That club, known for its irreverence and cutting-edge space, currently presents another curious object. This time it was placed outside its doors for its 10th anniversary party a few months ago. It’s the image of a woman’s open legs welcoming you at the entrance, through which you’ll have to enter in order to access the club and its unbeatable nights.

These are just two of the current examples, but expect to have your eyes drawn to other curious objects at a construction site or well-known buildings in Lisbon in the future.

The First Dog and the First Photographer: Obama’s Portuguese Connections

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

Portuguese Water DogArriving at newsstands across the United States tomorrow will be this week’s edition of People magazine with a cover story about Michele Obama. In the article the American first lady states that if it’s up to her, the choice for First Dog will be a Portuguese Water Dog. The pooch would be rescued from a shelter, and the breed was chosen due to its medium size, low allergy risk, and reputation of a good temperament and high intelligence.

The Portuguese Water Dog got its name for having first been seen all over Portugal’s coast, and especially in the southern Algarve. The dog has always been a loyal companion of seafarers, helping them deliver messages between boats and retrieve nets. They are close relatives of the poodle, with wavy black, white, or black and white hair.

Apparently Michele Obama will not have the final word, as the first lady’s press secretary has announced that the entire family still has to make a decision together about the new addition to their home, something that will likely only happen in April.

But the dog will not be the only presence in the White House with origins in Portugal. The official White House photographer is the Portuguese-American Pete Souza, born in Massachusetts (home to a large Portuguese community) and previously also the official White House photographer for Ronald Reagan. He’s already published a best-selling photo book entitled “The Rise of Barack Obama,” and has also worked for National Geographic and Life magazines.

Other prominent Portuguese-Americans are found in GoLisbon’s Portuguese people page.

A Visit to Lisbon’s Vieira da Silva Museum

Friday, February 20th, 2009

Vieira da Silva Museum, LisbonA few days ago we told you about Carmen Miranda’s 100th birthday, but there is another famous Portugal-born and internationally-recognized name that would also be 100 years old at the moment. That is Vieira da Silva (she’d turn 101 this June), an acclaimed modernist painter in the mid-20th century, considered one of the most important Post-War abstract painters.

She gained recognition in Paris where she met her Hungarian husband Arpad Szenes who was also an artist. Later she became the first woman to receive the French government’s Grand Prix National des Artes and died in the French capital in 1992.

Lisbon has a museum dedicated to the couple, found in a former silk factory facing a lovely neighborhood park in the Amoreiras district. You’ll see that you’re the only tourist there when you visit, as this is an off-the-beaten-tourist-path location. On display is a large collection of paintings by Vieira da Silva and her husband, together with temporary exhibitions by other artists influenced by them.

Vieira da Silva’s works are also on display in several museums around the world, including in the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington DC.

The Eyeful Tower: Lisbon’s Santa Justa Elevator

Monday, February 16th, 2009

Santa Justa Elevator, LisbonIn some guidebooks, Lisbon’s Santa Justa Elevator is said to have been designed by Gustave Eiffel (yes, of the Eiffel Tower), but that is not exactly true. Mr. Eiffel had many disciples and one of them was Raoul Mesnier du Ponsard, a Portuguese architect born in Porto of French parents. Ponsard was the real creator of Santa Justa Elevator which several publications have listed as one of the world’s best examples of iron architecture during the Industrial Revolution.

This curious construction was a necessity in Lisbon in order to connect downtown to the hilly Bairro Alto and Chiado neighborhoods. It was the fastest way to reach the top of the hill, and while cars and the metro do that today, this dramatic structure still has people lining up to go for a ride. It’s mostly done for touristic purposes, as it provides a 360-degree view over the city. And you do get an eyeful — you overlook all of downtown, towards the castle and Alfama, to Edward VII Park and the uptown high-rises. There is a naturally overpriced café (which you can skip) on the top platform, and you can stand there to take photos of the views.

If you have the tourist card (recommended) you can ride for free, otherwise it will cost you 2,80 euros. But here’s a little secret only a local and will tell you: you can reach the top for free! Simply head to the Carmo Convent ruins in Chiado, and enter the gate to the right of it. You’ll find yourself almost at the very top, and you then take the spiraling stairs to the cafe at 45 meters (147ft) above the ground.

For complete information about this Lisbon landmark, see GoLisbon’s Santa Justa Elevator page.

From Portugal to Brazil to Hollywood: Remembering the 100th Birthday of Carmen Miranda

Monday, February 9th, 2009

Carmen MirandaIf she were still alive, Carmen Miranda would be 100 years old today. If you’re questioning why she’s being mentioned in a blog about Lisbon and Portugal when she was Brazilian, you’re wrong. Carmen Miranda was born in Portugal. She moved to Brazil when she was still a baby when her parents decided to immigrate to Portugal’s former colony.

She grew up in Rio de Janeiro where she sang at parties and festivals, despite the disapproval of her parents. She was later given a record contract with RCA Records and eventually taken to New York to perform on a Broadway show. From there, Carmen went on to become a popular Hollywood actress in the 1940s and 50s, and became America’s highest-paid entertainer and reportedly the highest-earning female in the country.

Known as “the Brazilian Bombshell,” she was mostly cast in musicals as a Latin-American beauty wearing colorful hats made of fruit. Her management gave her a flamboyantly cliché image of Latin America with little distinctions between Brazil, Argentina, or Cuba, samba, tango, or habanera. As a result she was criticized in Brazil for projecting a false image of the country and giving in to American commercialism.

Her last few years were spent in states of depression, and she died of a heart attack at the age of 46 in Beverly Hills. She remains today not only an icon of Brazil but also of old Hollywood. She is also still the most successful Portuguese person to have ever been in the spotlight in Hollywood.

In Portugal you can visit a small museum dedicated to Carmen in her birth city of Marco de Canaveses. It features one of her famous hats along with several photos, while her statue stands outside.

For more famous Portuguese faces, see GoLisbon’s Portuguese people page.

Lisbon – Your Perfect Valentine’s Day City Break

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

Lisbon for Valentine's Day

Venice, Paris, and more recently, Prague are the favorite romantic getaways in Europe. While that’s perfectly understandable, couples looking for a special trip this Valentine’s Day should also consider Lisbon. They’ll find that walking around the city’s old quarters, and especially in the town of Sintra nearby, will be just as romantic as those other classic European destinations, but with the advantage that it’s so much cheaper.

Start with looking for the perfect accommodation for two. Consider As Janelas Verdes, a former residence of one of Portugal’s most famous writers, now a quaint hotel with a vine-covered patio garden.
Almost across the street is York House, once a convent but today a boutique hotel mixing antiques with contemporary furnishings and a relaxing courtyard.
By one of the city’s most peaceful and beautiful neighborhoods is Solar do Castelo, sharing the walls of Lisbon’s landmark castle. It’s a beautifully furnished 18th century mansion that includes a tiled terrace for moonlit conversations.

Even better is staying in Sintra at Hotel Lawrence’s. That’s the oldest hotel in the Iberian Peninsula and where British poet Lord Byron stayed during his famous visit that led him to conclude that Sintra was a “glorious Eden” and “the most delightful” town in Europe.

Sintra is also where actor Brad Pitt and former wife Jennifer Aniston spent a large part of their honeymoon, and although the fate of that couple isn’t exactly desirable, you know that a place chosen by Hollywood royalty should be perfect for you too.

When it comes to dining out, Lisbon’s A Travessa is a top choice for a romantic dinner. It’s set in a former convent, and you can try the Belgian-Portuguese specialties around the 17th century cloisters.
For a candle-lit dinner in Bairro Alto consider Cravo e Canela, serving international fusion dishes in an intimate space.

As for sightseeing during the day, go on a horse and carriage ride in Sintra admiring its fairytale architecture, or choose a carriage in Lisbon’s Belem district instead, a recent attraction by the city’s most important monuments. If that’s not enough, feel yourself carried away at the Coaches Museum, presenting the world’s largest collection of extraordinary vehicles once used by European nobility. Elsewhere in the city, a charming ride on the old trams will take you around Lisbon’s most picturesque corners.