Lisbon is known for its beautiful high viewpoints, houses covered in azulejos and iconic yellow trams. However, when you visit the city, you will notice quite a few surprising things you can find in Lisbon!
Illegal Chinese Restaurants
Around the area of Mouraria, just next to the Martin Moniz square, often hidden away in inconspicuous apartment buildings, you will find illegal Chinese restaurants. Nope, you didn’t read that incorrectly, there are indeed restaurants that they call “Chinês Clandestino” in Lisbon!
Essentially, an illegal Chinese restaurant is a restaurant inside a Chinese family’s flat. When you arrive into the apartment building, you will most likely think you are in the wrong place. But, follow the smell of Chinese food and you’ll get to where you need to go!
The whole unique experience is definitely worth trying out when visiting Lisbon! It can feel very strange to begin with as you are sat down in a family home whilst there could be someone watching TV next to you. However, the food is guaranteed to be delicious and the price is extraordinarily cheap!
Photo by Sharon Chen on Unsplash
Did you know that Lisbon has a pink street? Once Lisbon’s “Red Light District”, the meeting point for fishermen, criminals and prostitutes, the council decided it was time to move away from the rather dark history and transformed it into a brighter area by painting the entire street pink!
It isn’t well known simply for its instagrammable appearance but also for its vibrant nightlife. Pink Street is a whole street of restaurants and bars with a rather interesting history of illegal activities.
One of the most popular bars there is called “Pensao Amor” and surprisingly used to be a brothel! The ambiance and décor very much suggest the past of the establishment and is worth having a look at even if you do just visit once out of curiosity.
As you may already know, sardines are a real emblem of Lisbon. You can find sardines in almost all restaurants in Lisbon and you can even join the festival of St. Anthony in June which is also known as the sardine festival! At this time of year, the streets come to life; the locals play live music and sell drinks and sardines from their own homes!
You might be thinking that this sounds great but not so shocking. However, what will definitely surprise you is that Lisbon has a whole variety of shops that sell exclusively tinned sardines! They are filled from top to bottom with colourful tins of sardines! Some shops, notably the one on Rossio Square called “O Mundo Fantastico da Sardinha Portuguesa”, even sell Sardines in tins with years and important events that happened each year written on them. The idea behind these is to gift them to loved ones as souvenirs with an important year on them such the year of their birth, wedding etc. At the shop I just mentioned, they even have a sardine throne to sit and take a photo on!
Of course, just hearing about these shops is not so shocking as when you see them – don’t worry, you really can’t miss them!
Photo by Paul Bernhardt – Source
Surprising similarities with other cities in the world
When you visit Lisbon, it might surprise you to see some similarities with other cities such as San Francisco and Rio de Janeiro.
As well as Lisbon and San Francisco still having traditional-style trams operating in the city, the Ponte 25 de Abril and the Golden Gate Bridge are often compared due to being the same style and painted the same colour. Interestingly, the Ponte 25 de Abril was constructed by an American company that built a different bridge in San Francisco; the Oakland Bay Bridge. Here’s another interesting fact: because of the number of suicides that took place on the Golden Gate Bridge, the Ponte 25 de Abril was build without a pedestrian access; you can only travel over it by car, bus or train.
Besides San Francisco, Lisbon is also comparable to Rio de Janeiro since both cities have a statue of Jesus Christ looking over the cities. Lisbon’s Christo Rei, over on the other side of the river in Almada, was inaugurated in 1959 in gratitude for being spared any consequences during World War 2. It took inspiration from the Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro which was built almost 30 years before.
Image by BernardoUPloud on Pixabay
Time Out Market
This last one is not to surprising as it is incredible! Time Out magazine opened its first ever market here, in Lisbon! It is a huge food court in a beautiful building in Cais do Sodré. In one part of the landmark, there is a traditional fruit and vegetable market, but on the other side you can find all the delicious foods you could want; from sushi to Bacalhau to eclairs to ice-cream, you can find whatever you are in the mood for!
As well as it being so nicely set up and having such a huge variety to choose from, you and your friends don’t have to agree on what kind of food you’re going to have as everyone can have whatever they want and still enjoy it all together! So, when you can’t settle on steak or pizza, head over to Time Out Market to satisfy everyone’s cravings!
Image by rmac8oppo on Pixabay