Nic Freeman

Sharing the wonders of travel & everyday adventures

Colourful Streets of Lisbon: A Photo Walk

Sweet pastels and brightly patterned tiles line the vertical surfaces of Lisbon’s streets. Like clothing, the colours are worn to communicate personality, enliven the streets, tell a story about culture.

In my week visiting Lisbon I spent hours just wandering with a camera in hand, soaking in the joy of those coloured walls, learning the tales of the city. I arrived the week after the annual Lisbon Festival (June) and delighted in walking streets still decorated with rainbow streamers and frilly sculptures.

Unlike  any other place I’ve visited, Lisbon has many buildings with tiled facades, known as azulejos. The oldest tile designs are the blue and white depictions, which are detailed and soft in comparison to the modern bold designs. The geometric patterned tiles are known as alicatado  and are similar to those seen in mosques and Islamic palaces across the world.

Underfoot are shiny black and white paved waves and swirls traditional to Lisbon streets. Graffiti also plays a happy role on Lisbon street walls, with the local authority embracing the cultural movement and commissioning artworks across the city.

Here are some shots from my Lisbon wanderings.

Colourful tiles in Lisbon, PortugalColourful tiles in Lisbon, PortugalColourful tiles in Lisbon, PortugalColourful tiles in Lisbon, Portugal

P1290404P1290388

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P1290349P1290360P1290363P1290366P1290367P1290400Colourful tiles in Lisbon, PortugalColourful tiles in Lisbon, Portugal

P1290380P1290382P1290359P1290399

P1290392P1290385P1290393

Colourful tiles in Lisbon, PortugalColourful tiles in Lisbon, PortugalColourful tiles in Lisbon, Portugal

P1290586P1290592P1290632

Colourful tiles in Lisbon, PortugalColourful tiles in Lisbon, PortugalP1290724

P1290670P1290725P1290745

P1290614Colourful tiles in Lisbon, Portugal

In my next post, I’ll be sharing my favourite Lisbon experiences: fado at night, coffee and sardines, drinks in Barrio Alto, art in Belem, jazz in the park… so stay tuned!

17 comments on “Colourful Streets of Lisbon: A Photo Walk

  1. Andrew Petcher
    August 11, 2012

    Great pictures Nic. I enjoyed these tiled buildings when I visited Porto. All the money seems to be spent on the front exterior because inside I could see through the windows that the internal construction was quite basic and poor.

    • Nic Freeman
      August 11, 2012

      Thanks Andrew.

      Yes the level of disrepair in Lisbon was a little surprising given the glorious tiled facades. The city has a fixed price rent system that means many building owners can’t afford maintenance. The government in Lisbon has launched a big graffiti / community art program in the last few years as well, designed to increase arts as well as improve the look of the city which hosts so many big, crumbling buildings.

      Such an interesting place with so much to look at!

  2. Jenny Trozell
    August 11, 2012

    Nice post, I love colours so I probably wouldl love walking around in Lisbon :) Thank´s for sharing!

    • Nic Freeman
      August 12, 2012

      Thanks for reading Jenny. Yes, bright colours are just so happy. It was a delight to wander through the Lisbon Kaleidoscope.

  3. rayhaneh28
    August 11, 2012

    Thanks for sharing! Some beautiful buildings, plenty of interesting designs to look at. It’s funny how, as a European, I must admit Lisbon comes quite low on the list of European cities to visit, and I know must of my friends would feel the same. However, this has just picked my curiosity and I’ll be looking forward to your other posts about this place

    • Nic Freeman
      August 12, 2012

      Hey Rayaneh28 – thanks for reading. To be honest, Lisbon wasn’t on my radar at all until about a year ago, when I started hearing stories from fellow travellers (mostly Australians) about how wonderful it is. I loved that it wasn’t too touristy and it had a unique charm quite unlike other European cities, despite the many cultural similarities.

  4. restlessjo
    August 11, 2012

    Love Lisbon! But then I love Portugal. The tiles are so varied and beautiful, and you just never know when you’re going to come across all those paper flowers which signify a local festival.

    • Nic Freeman
      August 12, 2012

      Hey Jo. I can’t wait to travel the rest of Portugal and I’m kicking myself for not scheduling more time there! Those paper festival flowers were delightful. Think I will have to arrange my return visit to sync with festival time.

  5. Penescapes
    August 11, 2012

    what a spectacular array of fotos….and how blessed are they to live in a world full of color and art!

    Thank u so much for sharing them with us ~

    • Nic Freeman
      August 12, 2012

      Hi Penescapes. I couldn’t agree with you more. Colour and art have the power to inspire and delight, and Lisbon has embraced both for the better. Thanks for reading!

  6. transplantedtatar
    August 13, 2012

    What a beautiful, colorful post! Lisbon just appeared on my radar recently as well–my mom went there on a whim and loved it, and her pictures stunned and inspired me. I look forward to your next post. (Have you by any chance been to the Gulbenkian Museum? I am planning a trip, possibly for next year, and am narrowing down my highlights.)

    • Nic Freeman
      August 16, 2012

      Hey Transplantedtatar, Sounds like your Mum had a wonderful whim! What a great way to be introduced to Lisbon. I didn’t make it to Gulbenkian, although Lisbon is packed with museums, I only made it to MUDE Design and Fashion Museum (free, in the middle of town and really interesting). Thanks for reading. More to come soon. Nic

  7. I HAVE A VOICE
    August 14, 2012

    Wow! What a dreamland to be! Glorious art in every sense! I’m happy you’re happy ~ Thank you again for a wonderful blog! Blessings friend ~Deborah

    • Nic Freeman
      August 16, 2012

      Thanks Deborah, Lisbon really is quite a delight to travel. Colour is such a happy thing. As always, thanks for reading!

  8. Tiara
    August 22, 2012

    I love every bits , my fave town :)

  9. Samuel Jeffery
    August 30, 2012

    This is a gorgeous photo essay! I love the diversity in the way you’ve composed all of your shots. It certainly is colourful and a city I’ve love to visit someday :)

  10. Pingback: Happy 3rd birthday to nicfreeman.com | Nic Freeman

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