"Gargoyles & Graffiti"chronicles architectural elements that I find interesting or unique in my travels. Gargoyles are my passion, but today graffiti (which I hate but am learning to love as it is everywhere) is as much a part of architecture as the gargoyles and decorative railings that thrill me.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Graffiti in Lisbon

This blog post will be about graffiti as I would like to keep it balanced. My last post in Barcelona was definitely more gargoyle. The place I saw the most graffiti on my trip from Barcelona to Dover was in Lisbon. (The three places in the world I remember the most graffiti are Mexico City, Athens and Lisbon.)

Check out this great article about the graffiti in Lisbon ....

Alfama District in Lisbon

They even graffiti their boats

I can't remember the first time I saw graffiti. I've heard it said that the Indian cave paintings are a form of graffiti, so I guess it goes back a long time. Along the road leaving Estoril Beach and returning to Lisbon, we saw graffiti sprawled along the walls of the obviously super expensive homes by the beach.  Graffiti was even on some of the boats in the harbor when we reached the Alfama district where we were docked.

Along the sea from Estoril Beach to Lisbon

Drive from Estoril to Lisbon
cables and wires everywhere
Now this is not pick on Portugal day or anything. For friends of mine who spent more time there, they loved it. I am talking first impressions and Lisbon and the surrounding towns take some getting used to. It is old and crumbling but I believe in the short time I was on the cruise (we did overnight, but still??) I couldn't really love it. I guess I've finally said it. I actually disliked it. It is crowded, dirty, falling down ... and I really wanted to at least like it. I really did. I have been washing the same dishes I got as a bridal shower gift from my two best friends from high school for the last 25 years, yearning to see Portugal. My dishes are called Lisboa white ... which is actually the name of Lisbon if you live there, as it is the name of Lisbon in Spanish. These beautiful, simple white dishes that I have celebrated anniversaries, birthdays, and in my divorce, we even discussed what to do with them and he got 4 sets, I got 8. I have carried these dishes from Cincinnati where I got them as a gift (where I grew up) to Florida where I lived at the time I got married to Cozumel, Mexico. I still have most of these dishes even though a maid of mine broke the top of the casserole dish and all of the bowls disappeared long ago. And sometimes I dream about moving somewhere else and I got it in my head that Portugal would be the perfect place to live ... and then I went to Lisbon ... but just when I thought that the dirt, the smog, the crowds, the wires and the graffiti were more than I could bear, I came across this, a portal to a Church ... one of the last remaining remnants from the Earthquake of 1755 and it is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen in my life.

 The Church Portal from the 1755 Earthquake

Henry the Navigator Monument

And this .... a monument to Henry who our guide said never navigated anything to the mosaic floors showing the Portuguese voyages, detailed with decorative boats and sea creatures.

Map showing the voyages of the Portuguese

And I realized that travel, like life, never turns out exactly as we plan. Some places I have thought about so long and put up so high on the pedestal that they can never be as good as I expect them to be. Lisbon is one of those places. I can appreciate it so much more now that I am back from my trip and realize that like an exotic and unfamiliar meal, Lisbon is better as I ingest it in my mind.


  1. Love the graffiti especially the pink wall. Reminds me of photos I have seen of Havana.

  2. So in the end, you liked Lisbon? Would you ever go back?

  3. Trudy, I liked Lisbon in retrospect. Sometimes places are overwhelming to me for different reasons. I found Venice overwhelming due to the difficulty of getting around and it was so visually different from what I am used to, but I was intrigued and would love to go back. Ephesus in Turkey I found overwhelming because of the crowds and the persistence of the local vendors, somewhere I really do not desire to return. Lisbon I am still on the fence??

  4. I moved this post forward to this year as I love the photos I took in Lisbon.