Parque das Nações, the newest Lisbon area
The Lisbon area Parque das Nações is a lively and cosmopolitan district of the Portuguese capital created for the 1998 World Exhibition devoted to the seas.
Every time I go to Parque das Nações – that I, like the majority of the Portuguese, still refer to as Expo – I find it hard to imagine how degraded was this area of Lisbon prior to 1998 when the oriental side of the Portuguese capital, next to the Tagus estuary, housed the World Exhibition 1998. In fact, the organization of Expo ’98 was the perfect excuse to renovate the area, mainly used for industrial purposes, transforming it in one of the most exclusive leisure, commercial and residential areas of the city.
Parque das Nacoes, the legacy of the Expo ’98
As said, this area of Lisbon was fully transformed to welcome Expo ’98, the World Exhibition devoted to the Oceans, honouring the ancient relationship between Portugal and the Seas and celebrating the 500th anniversary of of Vasco de Gama’s discovery of a sea route to India. The site renovation was carefully planned in order to avoid that the place wouldn’t be devoted to abandonment has it had happened with Seville Expo ’92 precincts, thus every building was pre-sold assuring its reuse after the closing of the Exhibition and new accessibilities, namely the Vasco da Gama bridge over Tagus River, a new subway line along with a new terminal, featuring trains, subway, buses and taxis named Gare do Oriente, were built not only to deal with the thousands of expected visitors but also to bring the population closer to the area.
After closing its doors by the end of September 1998, Expo ’98 precincts remained closed to the public for a few months to reopen as the new Lisbon area Parque das Nações (Park of Nations), which soon became one of favourite get together places both for locals and tourists.
Although not housing any of the many magnificent existing monuments in Lisbon, Parque das Nações is surely worthy of a visit. If you have children don’t miss the opportunity to take them to the Lisbon’s Oceanario, one of the biggest aquariums of the world, to discover the wonders of the seas and their magnificent inhabitants; next, take them to Pavilhão do Conhecimento (Knowledge Pavilion), the former Knowledge of the Seas Pavilion, which is now a museum devoted to reveal science to the youngest, with some exhibits that call for their participation. On the other hand, if you are into shopping, Parque das Nações is the right place to come, offering you Vasco da Gama shopping mall where it used to be main entrance of Expo ’98.
Parque das Nações is a great place for a night out due to its amazing restaurants and bars with outdoor tables. After an wonderful meal you may want to spend a few hours at Lisbon Casino, working where it used to be Future Pavillion, either for gambling or just to enjoy a great show. And as we are talking about great shows you may want to check the agenda of Pavilhão Atlântico, Lisbon’s main multi-purpose indoor arena that used to be Utopia Pavillion during Expo ’98.
However, I especially enjoy walking along Parque das Nações gardens, discovering and playing with the educational instruments they hide and, at the same time, enjoying all the beauty and peace Tagus River has to offer; finally I like to end my afternoon with a ride on the funicular followed by a refreshing ice-cream with my family. Not bad for a Sunday afternoon, don’t you think? How about following my example on your next visit to Lisbon?