Street selling & artists in Lisbon, Portugal

Because one of my friends is selling artworks on the streets here in Lisbon I have talked even more than usual to other street artists and performers here, trying to help her. What I have noticed is that the police are much more liberal here than in other countries in Europe. Most people that earns money on the street are never bothered by the police, and only a few newcomers gets their stuff taken away if they are not liked by the local police. Also it’s a big difference between the winter- and summer season here, with very little business in the winter period and during the summer business bloom for everyone. Even before Christmas the business were bad for everyone but the beggars and expensive shops.

I have also been in contact with some shop owners selling different kind of handicraft or importing art from other countries. They tell me that the rent for a small shop in any of the many different shop areas here are from 1500 euro per month and up, which means that it is very difficult for new companies to afford it. The art shops that are here already don’t sell so much and even have whole days sometimes without even one customer, but they have had the same store/contract for 10 years and have very good rent deals because of this.

All in all, Lisbon seems to get more and more expensive, with the result that there are over 4 000 empty buildings (of total 55 000) here at the moment because of people leaving the city. This means that the city is actually shrinking in population every year because of the high rents. On top of this they have a whopping 24% of the residents that are 65 years old or more. Because of all the young people having to live outside Lisbon, more than half a million people (with 400 000 cars) commute to the city every day to work.

Even with all these empty buildings Lisbon is very difficult to squat in according to several sources. Either the police interfere and throw everybody out in the middle of the night, or the building gets demolished. For me it seems strange that the Portuguese police have so liberal view on some things, but at the same time are much tougher on squatters than for example in Spain.

Street artist; freeze juggler (Lisbon, Portugal)

Street artist; spray painter (Lisbon, Portugal)

Street artist; street musicians (Lisbon, Portugal)

2 thoughts on “Street selling & artists in Lisbon, Portugal

  1. dear world nomad,
    i am studying architecture in austria and would like to create something in lissbon that deals on the one hand with the fact that all the old buildings are falling apart, on the other one that there is so much cultural potential in this city. so i wanted to ask you if you could share some more information with me … why are there these problems? what caused them? what would you say would help the situation? … so many questions … but i would be glad for every little detail that you could give me … thanksfull greetings from the mountains

  2. Hi Julia! I am happy about your project and want to help as much as possible. You can contact me through email is you have some specific questions or ideas of projects. About your comment I can only say that most empty houses is because Lisbon got more expensive and the people moved out of the inner city to live in cheaper areas and commute to work every day. I am not sure if it is the same law in Portugal, but here in Spain it is also illegal to tear down these old houses because most of them are protected. At the same time they are not fit for living anymore as they have been empty for to long time. The only thing the owner can do is to sell the building or to wait for it to fall down by itself (which is what most people do) so they can sell the land to someone with money enough to build something new there. On top of this a lot of the buildings in Lisbon don’t have owners anymore which makes it even more difficult.

    Greetings from Las Palmas

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