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

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

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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!

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

  1. 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.

    1. 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. 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

    1. 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.

  3. 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.

    1. 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.

  4. 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.)

    1. 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

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