LISBON LOVES SHOPPERS, SHOPPERS LOVE LISBON
Wherever in the old city you may find yourself, you can putter about for hours discovering dusty boutiques that have specialised in gloves, or oils, or wines or tiles for decades if not for centuries.
The shops attached to the city’s museums offer more possibilities, be it CDs or a fadista’s embroidered shawl from the House of Fado or tiles from the Azulejo Museum. One of the most remarkable museum shops imaginable is attached to the Ricardo Espirito Santo Silva Foundation Museum in the Alfama. Its workshops turn out elegant hand-made reproductions of the furniture and objets d’art on view in the Foundation’s museum. It’s like a duplicate museum with price tags!
If you like your shopping served up in giant helpings, Lisbon provides that too. The biggest shopping mecca in Lisbon-in fact the biggest on the Iberian Peninsula, is the mighty Colombo Shopping Centre.
Prepare to lose yourself. In its four levels you’ll find 420 shops, 66 restaurants, 10 cinemas and a leisure area – everything from bowling alleys to bumper cars. One Christmas period it had to be closed for a while when the influx reached 170,000 customers.
If a mere 250 shops would content you, try the Armoreiras. This playful looking pink and blue structure designed in 1985 by the architect Tomas Taviera has been described as Portugal’s most entertaining modern building. In addition to the shops, it houses 60 cafes and restaurants, 10 cinemas and a hotel.
Also famed for its award-winning architecture is the light –filled Vasco da Gama shopping centre at the Park of Nations. To 166 stores and 36 restaurants it adds magical views of the Tagus River from its Beer Deck. Stroll the few metres into the centre from the equally eye catching Oriente metro station.
The Sotto Mayor Palace Shopping Mall is a sophisticated contrast to the cutting edge modernity of other centres. A restored, century-old French style palace, it houses 80 fashionable shops and 12 restaurants. The building is set in gardens with cobbled pedestrian paths.
For a gigantic shopping destination in the traditional department store format, there’s El Cortes Ingles. Its nine stories include two basements devoted primarily to food and six floors of clothes, toys, etc. The top floor offers cafes and restaurant plus an outdoor terrace with a view. There’s a choice of 10 cinemas if you want to make a day of it.