Lisbon already lures travelers with its bluesy fado music and dreamy hilltops, but a storied street art scene has also sprung to life in Portugal’s capital. So storied, in fact, that it’s become a pilgrimage site for street art seekers from all corners of the globe.
In Lisbon, this transient art form has its roots in the 1974 revolution that toppled Portugal’s right-wing dictatorship and ultimately sparked a profusion of politically charged street art.
Then the boom went dormant for a couple of decades, until the mid-1990s, when local artists started to deck out city walls with street art subforms of all stripes. Think tags, stencils, large-scale murals, scribbles, paste-ups and spray-paint graffiti.
Like a giant colorful canvas, Lisbon’s got it all, including work by Alexandre Farto, a.k.a. Vhils, a local graffiti master who shot to international fame with his reductive carving technique.
After a period of cleanups, Lisbon city council has opened up its mind and instead of cracking down on street art, it now supports it as a legitimate form of creative expression — which means the city is replete with it! Street artists were given carte blanche at a number of canvassing locations around Lisbon, and now these legal walls make up the city’s cultural fabric.