Architecture in Lisbon


Architecture in Lisbon


Mobile photographers don’t just interact on a digital level within photo communities like Instagram or EyeEM, but they extend this into the real world in the form of so-called “PhotoWalks” or “InstaMeets”. On these occasions photographers meet in a city, armed with ready-to-use smartphones, spare batteries, tripod or monopods, and diverse external optics, to explore the environment, get to know one another, swap tips, and – a very important aspect – have lots of fun.

“InstaMeets” are organized by the Instagram community itself and take place on a local as well as an international level.

In January and July of this year I had the opportunity to participate in the first two European InstaMeets in Lisbon and Berlin. As I’ve been familiar with Berlin for 25 years and lived there many years, I was especially excited about the tour to Lisbon – not only to personally get to know many European Instagramers with whom I had already connected previously on Instagram, but also to explore the city’s architecture. For this reason I spent a few more days in the city after the meeting and visited numerous interesting buildings. I would like to introduce you to some of them in this article and in my next – the fourth and last – contribution to Manfrotto.

Just as in my previous article about encounters with Finnish architecture, the starting point of my suggested tour is once again a train station. The station “Estação do Oriente” is in the eastern part of the city, at the edge of “Parque das Nações”, the former area of the World Exhibition 1998, not far from the Rio Tejo.

Completed in 1998 according to plans by Santiago Calatrava, the station services long distance and regional trains as well as being a bus terminal and having its own metro station; correspondingly, it is heavily frequented by travelers. However, because of its spacious construction it is very easy to have extensive photo sessions there.

Address: Avenida Dom João II, 1990 Lisbon
Architect: Santiago Calatrava

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The eastern side of the train station borders the former main entrance of Expo98 which is now the shopping center “Centro Comercial Vasco da Gama”. Behind it is the “Pavilhão Atlântico”, now the MEO Arena, another building which was part of the structures that made up of Expo98. The multi-function hall which was originally called “Pavilhão da Utopia” and was opened during the World Exhibition, was planned by the architect Regino Cruz in cooperation with Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM).

Address: Avenida Dom João II, 1990 Lisbon
Architect: Regino Cruz, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill


Immediately next to the MEO Arena is the pavilion “Pavilhão de Portugal” designed by Álvaro Siza Vieira. The pavilion consists of two exhibition buildings parallel to each other; the area between them is covered by a very elegant supporting structure made of concrete. The picture below shows the southern facade of the building which together with the huge roof is another, very photogenic detail of the pavilion.

Address: Alameda dos Oceanos / corner Rua do Caribe, 1990 Lisbon
Architect: Alvaro Siza Vieira


Just a few hundred meters south of the “Pavilhão de Portugal” you will come across the “Oceanário de Lisboa”. This ocean aquarium was one of the main attractions during Expo98 and is currently considered to be the second-largest oceanarium in the world. The facade of the entrance area decorated with maritime quotes is especially interesting.

Address: Esplanada Dom Carlos I, s/nº, 1990-005 Lisbon
Architect: Campos Costa Arquitectos


The “Parque das Nações” offers many more impressive buildings, e.g. the “Pavilhão do Conhecimento” or the “Torre Vasco da Gama” that invite visitors to explore the area more fully.

To finish off I would like to draw your attention to a few more buildings which are not found in the area of the former World Exhibition.

The Portuguese National Archives “Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo” is on the campus of the University of Lisbon, about 5 km west of the “Parque das Nações”. The name Torre do Tombo originates from the main tower of the “Castelo de São Jorge” in whose walls important documents of the Portuguese royal family have been stored since the 14th century. In line with this, the new National Archives – built in 1991 from limestone and concrete – seem protective and massive. Nevertheless, one can discover interesting graphic details on the facade of the colossal building, like for example this gargoyle by José Aurélio, interacting with the building’s extraordinary geometrical facade design.

Naturally the university campus offers more delightful buildings, however, you do need some time to explore them. By way of example, I would just like to mention the “Cantina da Universidade de Lisboa” in the Avenida Prof. Gama Pinto, the “Centro de Investigação e Intervenção Social” and the “Cantina Nova” in the Avenida das Forças Armadas as well as the main building with auditorium of the “Universidade Nova de Lisboa” in the Travessa Estevão Pinto.

Address: Alameda da Universidade, 1649-010 Lisbon
Architect: Ateliers Associados, Arsénio Raposo Cordeiro, A.N. de Almeida, M. Sheppard Cruz


About 8 km south of the university campus, on the banks of the river Tejo, is the “Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown” of the Champalimaud Foundation. The building as well as the surrounding area of the Biomedical Research Center are in complete contrast to the National Archives. The transparent and organic architecture is spread over several levels across the area and offers impressive pictures on account of its location in the southern part of the city, particularly in the afternoon and evening.

Address: Av. Brasilia Doca de Pedrouços, 1400 Lisbon
Architect: Charles Correa Associates

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If you have the time and inclination to see more buildings on the way back to the center of the city, I would recommend the cultural center of Belém on the Rua Bartolomeu Dias and the Gulbenkian Planetarium, which opened in 1965, on the “Praça do Império” next to the Jeronimos Monastry. To finish off the tour, you might want to grab a little bite to eat in one of the bakeries on the Rua de Belém.

Address: Praça do Império, 1400-206 Lisbon
Architect: Frederico George

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Hopefully my articles provided tips and inspiration to some of the readers to engage more intensively with architectural photography.

Sebastian Weiss

Works as a creative thinker in the internet sector and contributes as a photo columnist to AD Architectural Digest Germany.

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