praça lisbon

Lisbon in Black and White

praça lisbon

The Praça do Comércio is an open-air plaza of pale stone and bleached white statues. This historical center opens toward the Tagus River, and is almost always abuzz with cable cars, trams, and pedestrians. Restaurants and bars line its edges, and in the center rises a sculpture of King José I on his horse, symbolically trampling snakes.

By Shawn Moksvold

In Lisbon, there is a particular kind of light that bathes the city. The afternoon ocean breeze whisks away the pollution of modern city life and the adjacent Tagus River reflects the almost constant Iberian sunshine in surprising shimmers and changing shades throughout the day. The result is a labyrinth of narrow, aging walkways, awash in the radiance and warmth of the sun that has enchanted artists, locals and tourists alike.

One afternoon, in a family restaurant tucked away on a steep street in the Alfama neighborhood, we had just finished our superior plate of large, grilled sardines. It was closing time, and the owner of the restaurant closed the front door, and he put out a plate of his own fresh seafood and sat in the corner table by the window. His wife, who must have been working in the kitchen, joined him with a chilled bottle of vinho verde in a metal bucket. Then they sat together and ate in silence as the afternoon light glowed on the balconies and façades outside. It reminded us of the sweetness and simplicity of life, so easily found if there is the desire to find it.

tram lisbon

 A packed main street, as cable cars squeeze by each other, moving locals and tourists throughout the city.

sweets lisbon

 Passersby window-shop for sweets, freshly made throughout the day.



store in lisbon

A mix of cultures, Lisbon holds a cornucopia of stores and novelty shops.

birds lisbon

Pigeons rest on the trolley cables and on the balconies of a typical residence covered in tiles. Many buildings in Lisbon are eroding, but with class, dignity, and color.

trees in lisbon

 A maze of trees covering the Jardim Dom Luis.

homes lisbon

There are many lookouts in Lisbon, and at the Miradouro das Portas do Sol, the observer can see the vast spread of orange-tiled rooftops that spill into the river below.

L la foto gamba

 An afternoon indulgence of fresh, locally caught gambas, oysters, and white port wine.

torre lisbon

 The Torre de Belem stands at the mouth of the Tagus River, a departure point for mariners since the Age of Discovery. Explorers like Magellan and Vasco de Gama passed this way in their ships laden with supplies.

sardines lisbon

Canned seafood is a popular export from Portugal. And the sardines are some of the highest quality in the world, packaged in stylish and decorated cans.


Many of the buildings in Lisbon are covered in tiles called azulejos. These colorful walls are a characteristic of Portuguese neighborhoods, displaying each building’s character.

shop lisbon

 A local artist, who paints his minimalist scenes with local coffee and wine, displays his work. The space is a converted pharmacy, with a typical load of drying towels and underwear hanging above.


Piles of dry, salted cod in a local market.


 The famous Pastel de Belem, a rich custard pastry that lines the shelves of any Lisbon pastry shop.


 The evening sun in the Praça do Comércio, shining on the pedestal of the statue of King Dom José I.



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The Culture-ist