Lisbon is now considered one the world capitals with the best street art. The city ranks 5th on the Huffington Post list with the best 15 best cities to see street art, ahead of cities like Los Angeles, New York, London and Paris.
The mixture between the classic and beautiful tile covered façades to Vhils carving faces façades transforms Lisbon into a big open art gallery.
If you don’t know what to see in Lisbon, just look down. You’re probably stepping on a traditional cobblestone design sidewalk.
You can still see some political murals from Carnation Revolution in April 74 and today, even the City Council sponsors graffiti artists, making abandoned buildings available to artists, realising that good-quality street art could be an asset.
Everyday, there’s some kind of street art popping somewhere in the city while others vanish like they appeared. One thing is for sure, either you like it or not, street art is now a big part of Lisbon and an inspiration to some of our apartments interior design. If you’re browsing for things to do in Lisbon, just walking around our city is like visiting an open air art gallery.
Vhils street art
Vhils’s is currently the biggest name in Portuguese Street Art. And his name is not just a synonym to one of the best street artists in Portugal. It has travelled abroad to at least more than 50 countries where he literally carved his art. By carving into walls he uncovers the slabs of colour and texture in order to make massive portraits.
“I continue to think that the biggest museums we have in the world are the streets.” Vhils
Vhils gained prominence when his carved portrait was revealed alongside the street artist Banksy at the Cans Festival in London in 2008. Later, Bansky’s agent, gave him additional space to create his street art carvings.
Vhils uses different techniques like dissecting poster ads and excavating walls, collages, wheat paste, wood, metal, installations, and more like using etching acid, bleach, pneumatic drills, and other processes or street art tools to reveal a wall’s layers.
These techniques and tools are evolving as his work progresses. He enjoys the suspense of not knowing what patterns and images await in the layers beneath. The final layer product on the surface is his key concept.
Check Vhils’ website and map. It’s definitely a must thing to see in Lisbon.
You cannot miss his tribute to Amália Rodrigues, the Portuguese Fado diva, using the traditional cobblestone pavement. Find it on Rua dos Cegos.
Bordalo II transforms trash or rubbish into impressive art pieces. This incredible Portuguese street artist is known for creating large animal figures from garbage he finds on the street and abandoned construction sites.
In the last few years, his work has spread all over the world, in a series of works called Big Trash Animals. There is a clear message behind it: draw attention to waste production, waste, pollution and how much it causes our planet to suffer.
“We destroy animals and nature. I give them life with what we have done to destroy them. “ Bordalo II
Bordalo II uses rugged bumpers, burned trash bins, tires and appliances, plastic work ducts, shower curtains, gas pipes, bumpers, metal nets and various plastics. These materials, along with some color, give life to his creations.
You must see in Lisbon the Raccoon on a wall of the Cultural Center of Belém, the Trash Puppy, built at the Cabo Ruivo roundabout, between Av. Infante D. Henrique and the Passeio do Baltico; a pig on Rua do Rio Douro and the giant bee inside the Lx Factory.
Also check Bordalo II studio in Xabregas. It’s free and one of the best things to see in Lisbon.
Odeith is known for his amazing three-dimensionality paintings. He’s the pioneer in the use of his anamorphic technique that makes his graffiti “leap” from the walls, giving the illusion that they are 3D objects.
Anamorphic art consists of an optical illusion effect, using the perspective and a game of light and shadows, which, from a certain point of view, allows the work to be understood in 3D. Made in the angle of two Odeith graffiti walls look like sculptures, 3D objects that are floating in space.
Odeith technique took street art to the next level.
“Odeith: From sewer king to graffiti master.” Sábado Magazine.
You must check his apocalyptical graffiti in Gare do Oriente. Then travel to the other side of town, in Damaia, where you can see some of the Breaking Bad scenes painted in the train station. Just using spray cans, this 16 meters long work of art took only 4 days to finished and it’s incredible. In Amadora, Odeith painted in an 8 store building a gigantic Fernando Pessoa.
Where to find Street art in Lisbon
Our best advice is walk around and keep your eyes open. From huge buildings to small fire hydrants, Lisbon is a big raw canvas for so many brilliant street artists.
In Mouraria you can find walls dedicated to fado. The cooperation between artists is becoming more common and at Escadinhas de São Cristovão there is a mural created by different artists.
The main groups are the Underground platform and Cargo Collective, that displayed their art all over Lisbon and its suburbs.
Bairro Alto is one of Lisbon’s most colourful neighbourhoods. During the day it’s peaceful and relaxing, giving you the opportunity to check out the dozens of art pieces all around. Near our Urban Edge apartment in Bairro Alto, there are couple of areas where you will find a few amazing examples include Travessa dos Fiéis de Deus, Rua da Vinha, and Rua de São Boaventura.
During the night, it come to life, with people flooding the bars, clubs, small restaurants and tascas.
Elevador da Gloria
This century old elevator is currently on of the biggest street art streets in the world. Inaugurated in 1885, the Glória funicular is 275 meters long, with a slope of about 18%. It goes up and down between Restauradores and Rua de São Pedro de Alcântara in Bairro Alto. Along this street, seven panels were installed for selected artists present their murals. The Street Car is supposed to be yellow since the 1920s, but is usually covered in graffiti.
Alfama and Graça
Going from Elevador da Gloria, pass Martim Moniz and go to Alfama and Graça where the narrow roads are lined in eclectic artwork. You can take the Tram 28 through Graça, where you can find some of João Maurício’s and Vhils’ artwork.
Carnation Revolution Murals
In Lisbon, April 1974 turned streets into spaces of ideological expression. After years of censorship people picked up brushes and go to the walls to “talk” about jobs, wages, education and health. They were revolution songs painted in stone. Words of order to what people could now do, this leftist propaganda covered Lisbon’s streets in the 1970’s.
You can still find some in Bairro Alto near our Cozzy Apartments, on Travessa dos Fiéis de Deus, Âlcantara and Cruz Quebrada.
Recently, in Avenida de Berna a big 15 meters graffiti, made by four Underground artists, evokes the main symbols of the Carnation Revolution, in a contemporary approach.
Alcântara and LX Factory
You can find brilliant art pieces in Alcantara in big buildings seen from highway crossroads and in the narrow streets and quiet neighbourhoods.
Don’t miss LX factory a hub for design and art startups and entrepreneurs, freelancers, and artists. This neighbourhood was converted from an old factory building, that had been abandoned for decades, into modern restaurants, bars, stores, and offices. The artwork is a big part of the atmosphere and adds colour to this social hub.