Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Tiles & mosaics...Lisbon

Nothing special about a tile right?  Wrong. Lisbon will show you what's what in the universe of The Tile. 
In the week I've been here I've become somewhat tile obsessed. Stopping every few steps, literally, to take a photo because they are everywhere in this city and they are so beautiful. I'm not talking about your run of the mill big square tile mind you. No, those just think they are tiles. Let me be clear- these of which I type are smaller ancient tiles and mosaics that prettify pavements, old streets, building facades, framing doors, sills and windows, pressed into murals depicting Fado singers, fables and life scenes, transforming the ordinary  into the extraordinary.
It's said that the first pavement (calcades) mosaics were created by  Lisboa prisoners in 1842- the history is a little unclear but suffice to say one Eusebius Furtado, a military commander, was commissioned to design the wavy mosaic pattern in Rossio Square... the trend caught on and voila, Lisbon got its tile game on, and still today, the city looks magnificent. 
The Moors must also be credited for  their introduction of the geometrical ceramic arts. Decorated tilework, known in Portuguese as azulejo, soon came to cover houses and churches across the country during their occupation of Portugal.
So aside from what you see at eye level and above, don't forget to look down - at the artwork created centuries ago for your and my visual pleasure. 

Rossio Square (circa 1849) >

Mouraria >

Pena Palace, Sintra > 

Pena Palace >

Alfama >

Alfama >

Saldanha >
Sintra > 

Me, in celebration of that which is underfoot....

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Bordello chic in Cais do Sodre

Pensão Amor is a fabulous bar to visit in Cais do Sodre in Lisbon. The sumptuous interior is reminiscent of its former bordello days - heavy velvet drapes, tassles, ornate lamps, gilded mirrors and more... tres vintage.
The area was once frequented by a seedy set but in 2011 the district was given a makeover. No longer the domain of tarts, sailors and pimps, its main street, Rua Nova do Carvalho, has been painted a welcoming pink. 
They say this part of town has upstaged Bairro Alto - whatever the case, it's another amazing part of Lisbon. Bohemian chic is the dominant style and if you plan a bar or Fado club crawl, go late... things only get going around midnight. 

Pensaor Amor >

Pink Street > 

Close by~ I liked the old wrought iron feature alongside the newer graffiti...

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Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Alfama, Lisbon. Step back in time...

This amazing quarter is situated on the slopes beneath the Castelo Sao Jorge (Castle of St George) spilling down to the banks of the Tagus River. It's Lisbon's oldest area, dating back to ye olde days of numerous invasions and occupations...Romans, Barbarians and the Moors have called Alfama home at one or other time, the latter having a particularly long reign. Alfama, like the rest of Lisboa, was destroyed by  the great earthquake and tsunami of 1755. Once a well-to-do area, it gradually became overtaken  by fisherman and paupers and to this day has remained a so-called poorer district. In my mind it has the best character and authenticity in all of Lisbon. (The city was incorporated into Portugal in 1152 by the way). 

After taking the old tram up the hill, my walking tour took me past compact ancient homes with wrought iron balconies, through a labyrinth of skinny lanes, narrow cobblestone streets, up and down steep hills and staircases, through small public squares, past Fado clubs (the best Fado is in Alfama) and onto the steps of the oldest church in the city, the Lisbon Cathedral.

I've been to Alfama three times this trip - each visit has revealed something unique. Get a sense of an age long gone as you take a step back in time in this incredible part of beautiful Lisboa. (Fact check by Nelson Carvalheiro, with much gratitude from #capetowndiva)

Take the tram >

Skinny lanes >

Small public square with kids playing soccer >

Staircase...lots of them >

Inside the Lisbon Cathedral >

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Blu who? Street art & graffiti in Lisbon...

I now love street art. The first I saw of it in Lisbon last week made my jaw drop. Three abandoned buildings one after the other, a whole block, each with an incredible mural that covers the entire facade. I’d never really absorbed how great these artworks are…incredible attention to detail and the scale, just perfect. The artists responsible are Os Geméos, Blu, Sam3, Ericailane and Lucy Mclauchlan. I'm quite new to this type of art and I blame these guys for firing up a new obsession wit it. So much so that I am planning street art tours in Paris, Berlin and Madrid in May 2015 and am going be submitting an editorial about it for a South African newspaper
There's a lot of graffiti around this city. Some of it I feel is messy, neither here nor there, a lot of, and too much drawn over ancient walls, park benches and mosaic tiles. I get that it's a form of artistic expression too but it's a pity when it messes up historical sites.
Street art that can be found wherever you look in Lisbon- don't forget to look up. Be inspired...

Os Gemeos & Blu...

Erica il Cane

Near the 'pink street'...

Messy but the tiles are beaut >

Just off Rossio Square >
LX Factory >

LX Factory >

Fado singer Amalia, a mural off Avenue Liberdade > 

Chiado >

At the Harbour >

 I like this > 

Sintra >

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Monday, 22 December 2014

LX Factory in Lisbon~ a cool creative space

If you're a creative, get to LX Factory in Alcântara, on the riverside in Lisbon. Dating back to 1846, the area was once a vast industrial site, part of which has been restored into a hub of arts related businesses, from fashion to food, architecture, PR and design. I guess if I lived in Lisboa, DIVA PR and Lateral Paul (@lateralpaul on Instagram) would be based here. 
My fave shop spots> India That Wears You (coolest silk pants) and Wish (tzatskes and a sage green wool scarf)...lunch & vino was at the unpretentious Cantina where the service was so friendly. 
It's best to go on a Sunday when there's an open air market of amazing 2nd hand goods and other bargains.

Rua Rodrigues de Faria 103, 1300 Lisboa, Portugal*

The streets leading to LX, under the Big Bridge >

Inside LX>

People you meet>

Cantina restaurant >


Get there and be inspired!


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