Bairro Alto, Lisbon’s trendy district
Bairro Alto, Lisbon’s trendy district, is famed for its cosmopolitan nightlife yet it also has several arguments for a great visit during your stay in Lisbon
Bairro Alto, Lisbon’s trendy district, is a picturesque quarter dating from the 16th century that has traditionally been the city’s bohemian heart. With its narrow and cobbled streets, ancient buildings and traditional shops, Bairro Alto offers an unusual and charming contrast, being a quiet neighborhood where everybody knows each other during the day and a cosmopolitan place at night attended by the most eclectic characters one may conceive, bar-hopping or standing outside with a drink in hand enjoying Lisbon’s mild nights.
If ever since the 80’s Bairro Alto is famed for its exciting nightlife and bohemian ambience due to the countless bars, restaurants and Fado restaurants, during the 70´s the district housed many newspapers headquarters and printing houses, thus being the center of the country’s media. Nowadays that past is immortalized on the streets named after several newspapers like Rua Diário de Notícias and Rua do Século.
Yet, this neighborhood attended by writers, journalists, artists, students and young people was once the house of sailors’ dives, hostess bars and coal merchants, a fact that only contributes to give Bairro Alto a sense of that irresistible attraction that only comes from the forbidden fruit, which brings back to mind the ambiences lived by Marlon Brando in “On the Waterfront” or by James Dean in “Rebel Without a Cause”.
Photo by Pirkka Aunola
Nevertheless Bairro Alto is more than just the movida heart of the Portuguese capital. From it, namely from the belvedere Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara, you have one of the best panoramic views over the city and the many existing monuments in Lisbon. The district is also famed by its two iconic churches: São Roque with its magnificent baroque interior and the romantic Gothic ruins of Carmo Convent. Besides, Bairro Alto offers trendy shops of new designers opened till late in the evening, perfect for buying original souvenirs for your friends and family.
A little further down, towards Tagus River, there is Chiado with its theaters, bookshops, art nouveau buildings and the emblematic cafe A Brasileira, who was the meeting point of the highest representatives of the Portuguese culture since the 19th century such as Almada Negreiros, Santa Rita Pintor or José Pacheco; yet, its most famous client was the poet Fernando Pessoa whose statue stands in front of the cafe since the 80’s.
So as Bairro Alto is as appealing during the day as during the night my advice is go for a walk in the afternoon, have a nice dinner and then mingle with the crowd to enjoy its contagious bohemian ambience. The experience will be memorable!
Where is Bairro Alto?
Main image credits
Photo by eDuaRDo gArcÍA