Lisbon, Portugal

Tuesday, July 1st, 02014 at 15:51 UTC

In week #173 was spent in Lisbon, Portugal. We gave a workshop about data visualizations to around 50 eager folks wanting to learn more. From small companies to large industries everyone was represented. There were several European nations as well as a few Asian and North American. It was a great group of people and we both learnt a lot from each other. The workshop was part of the UXLX conference, all about user experience. It is held annually in Lisbon, Portugal and has been running for several years.

While in Lisbon, you can’t visit the city without enjoying many of the sights, sounds and tastes of Portugal. Lisbon is an old city, really old. Traces of neolithic settlements have been found in the area. The Castle of São Jorge in the center of the city was probably a Roman fortification built around 48 BCE. The castle as we see it today was built heavily renovated around 01300 CE, but had existed for hundreds of years.

While in Lisbon, you must eat the Custard Tarts. The most famous of pastry vendors is probably Pastéis de Belém. They were founded in 01837 and have grown into the surrounding buildings. Calling the restaurant cavernous doesn’t begin to really describe its size. They produce around 19,000 pastries per day on average and can seat hundreds at a time.

Nearby in the area of Belém are several museums, tourist attractions and cultural centers. The Monument to Discoveries is a 51m tall stone monument to all the explorers who went forth and found new lands. Outside the building a large stone wind rose compass, 50m in diameter. It shows the dates of various explorers on a map of the world.

A short walk away is the Tower of Belém. Once a defensive tower at the mouth of the Tagus river, it’s now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Next to tower is the Cultural Center. It was the home of the European Union presidency when Portugal was hosting, but now it is the largest dedicated cultural center in Portugal.

Lisbon is a colorful city, full of vibrance, fun and knows how to play off its cultural heritage and identity. Lots of statues, art, advertisements and posters working with their history of tiles, fishing, fado, religion, roosters and writers.

Nearly all the houses in town are covered with colorful tiles. These are repeated in various places around town. From event posters to a stylized tortoise made from various patterned tiles outside of the Oceanário aquarium.

Nestled under the 25th of April Bridge, you’ll find LX Factory. This is a collection of artists, shops and restaurants all with a very quirky feel. There used to be many printing presses in this area, but a fire damaged many. While waiting for the insurance to pay out, the company went bankrupt. The printing halls have been turned into bookstores, cafés and a cultural center. While it the area has a bit of a counter-culture feel to it, their weekend festivals bring everyone out into the streets. If you are in Lisbon, you’ll want to have a look for yourself.