Exploring Lisbon’s shops
Unusual shopping destinations will tempt delegates in Lisbon, Portugal.
Lisbon, like all major cities, offers shoppers plenty of choice, from vast shopping malls to the standard designer boutiques, but to make a Lisbon shopping trip a day to remember, you should explore a few of the city’s off-beat options. Here are some suggestions.
THE VASCO DA GAMA SHOPPING CENTRE:
The shopping centre is opposite the Gare do Oriente train station. Its dramatic doorway once led to the attractions of Expo ’98. Now it leads to a maritime-themed glass-roofed shopping gallery. The centre is laid out like a modern pleasure cruiser, where balconies are stacked around a vast central atrium.
In the Vasco da Gama, these balconies house almost 200 shops, a multiplex cinema, and numerous food outlets. In a nod to life on the ocean waves, water periodically sprays over the glass roof; originally – but no longer – a fog horn sounded at random intervals. At the rear of each level are tables to which you can bring coffee or a snack from one of the kiosks and enjoy a distant view of the Tagus River. And there’s free wifi. Open daily 9.00 to 24.00.
CHAPELARIAs AZEVEDO RUA:
In 1886, when the phylloxera plague demolished his vines on the banks of the Douro River, wine producer Manuel Aquino Azevedo Rua was forced out of business. Leaving Porto for Lisbon, and with borrowed money, he started a hat shop that is still going strong.
The shop provides hats, berets and caps, along with walking sticks, umbrellas and scarves, to the famous and fastidious. Since the 1980s, fashionable women have been included in the clientele. Look into the shop in downtown Rossio to admire the period decor and perhaps consider a beret or cap as a stylish souvenir of Lisbon. Located at Praça Dom Pedro IV 73.
JOALHARIA FERREIRA MARQUES:
Only a two-minute walk away from the Chapelaria Azevedo Rua, at Praca Dom Pedro IV 7-9, is the shop where James Bond (George Lazenby) bought a wedding ring for Tracy (Diana Rigg) in the 1969 film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
Although 007’s “All the Love in the World” wedding ring is no longer in production, this 1926 Art Deco shop still features a wide assortment of silver and gold jewellery, along with fine watches. Open Monday to Friday 10.00-19.00, and Saturday 10.00-13.00.
From there, it’s a short stroll to Manuel Tavares, a wine shop founded in 1866. You’ll find a selection of vintage ports and rare port single harvests. Located at Rua da Betesga 1 A-B. Open Monday to Saturday.
One of the oldest traditions of Portugal is tile decoration. In the Park of Nations, the custom is honoured in the tile panels on the theme of “Oceans”, which line the walls in the Gare do Oriente train station. For the history of this tradition, visit the fascinating National Azulejo Museum in the 16th Century Convent of Madre de Deus. Then browse the museum’s shop, where reproductions of historic tiles are available for as little as €6, and very modern tiles – such as the Lady and the Frog by the contemporary artist Bela Silva (belasilva.com) – are priced at €38. National Azulejo Museum, Rua Madre de Deus 4. Closed Monday. Open Tuesday to Sunday 10.00-18.00.
The Sant’Anna tile factory, founded in 1741, is still producing handmade tiles for an appreciative international audience. Take a free guided tour of the factory – no appointment is necessary – and learn something of the processes involved. Afterwards, visit the showroom where tile and tile panels are for sale, many reproducing 300-year-old patterns. Also available are ceramic home products including vases, plates, chandeliers and lamps. If you would like to try decorating tiles yourself, sign up online for a workshop at santanna.com.pt. The Sant’Anna factory and showrooms are located at Calcada da Boa-Hora 96. Open Monday to Friday 9.30-12.30, and 13.30-18.00.
In a city full of ceramic shops, Nobre Povo, near the pedestrian entrance to Castelo St Jorge, stands out for its non-touristy feel and warm welcome. The stock includes many original articles made locally, not just ceramics, but glass and jewellery too. The multilingual owners, Pedro and Cristina, will fill you in on the history of any piece that catches your eye. Located at Rua Bartolomeu de Gusmao 23-25, Castelo de S. Jorge. Or try your luck at the Feira da Ladra. This friendly flea market, offering a jumble of old and new wares, including plenty of ceramics, attracts locals and tourists alike. It’s held at the Campo de Santa Clara in the Alfama district every Tuesday (06.00 to 14.00), and every Saturday (06.00-17.00).