Located along the Atlantic Ocean, Lisbon is the capital of Portugal and has been the political, economic and cultural epicentre of Portugal for over nine centuries. The city’s historical charm combined with the upsurge in contemporary culture has made it one of the most visited European cities.
Lisbon enjoys one of the mildest climates in Europe making it a year round destination. However, high temperatures during summer and frequent bouts of rain in winter make springtime most popular. Lisbon’s proximity to the ocean means that a visitor here must be prepared for sudden weather changes.
The birthplace of the famed mosaic Portuguese Pavement, Lisbon continues to sport examples of the art on most of its walkways and streets. Monuments and buildings chronicling the architectural styles through the years reiterate the rich history of Western Europe’s oldest city.
Down Memory Lane
In the 12th century the Moors occupied the Alfama district of Lisbon. The Moorish castle, the Cathedral with its twin bell-towers and some red roof houses are all the signs that remain of those days. At the end of a cobbled street in this neighbourhood stands the Memmo Alfama, striving to invoke memories of the original neighbourhood by recreating the same sights, sounds and ambience.
Memmo Alfama is a member of Design Hotels (TM). The catchphrase in the design aspect of the hotel was – authenticity. The original 19th century building that was chosen to house the Memmo Alfama has been left as it was. This has ensured that the building’s chemistry with its surroundings has remained unaltered.
At the same time, it was crucial to renovate the inside to provide for the comfort of the patrons. Old spaces are maintained in their original avatar but have been assigned a new role. For instance, the original bakery with its brick-ceilinged dome which has been turned into a reading nook stacked with books on Lisbon and its history.
Calm, muted colours dominate the colour palette of the Hotel, through its public areas and the rooms. In the rooms too, the design concept continues in the same minimalist vein. The furniture, furnishings and artwork blend into each other with no one element screaming for attention. The large windows frame the views of the neighbourhood and carry the vibe of the Alfama into the interiors of the hotel.
A La Mode
Imagine a miniskirt in a museum. Sounds odd? Most of the articles in the Design and Fashion Museum aka MuDe may not find a place in a typical musuem but fit in well into the MuDe story. Here, the objects on display trace the evolution of design. In the early 20th century design served a functional role, later the concept of ‘Good design’ was expressed.
It also shows the role history, politics and innovation played on how we interacted with design. From a miniskirt to Junya Watnabe’s coat and skirt and from the 1959 BMW Isetta to the Bocca Sofa better known as Marilyn’s Lips, the MuDe’s permanent display consists of works of 230 designers. The display of innovative creations by the best of the 20th century has made the MuDe a must-visit in Lisbon.
In The Name Of Discovery
The year was 1497. Vasco Da Gama and his crew were ready to embark on their voyage to India and the previous night was observed in prayer at a hermitage in Lisbon.
At the same spot, five years later a grand monastery was built to commemmorate the success of that voyage. The structure is built in a Manueline style, which is a complex architectural style that includes maritime motifs and sculptural details and objects found during naval explorations.
Coils of rope, coral, sea montsers and other nautical elements decorate the cloisters. The presence of Vasco Da Gama’s tomb within the monastery further adds to its significance in Portugese history.
When Café A Brasiliera opened at the turn of the 20th century, it quickly became a hangout for the intellectuals. Famed poet Fernando Pessoa was one such regular so much so that a bronze likeness of his, sitting at the table with his cuppa has been installed on the pavement outside.
The decorated façade with carvings and inlay work sets the tone for what lies within. The interiors are ornate and glitzy in line with the Art Deco style they were originally planned in.
Gold, red and ochre dominate the colour scheme and brass fixtures add to the opulence. The black and white mosaiced floor adds to the glamour quotient of Lisbon’s oldest café.
Text By Himali Kothari