Lisbon has a lot of history, with its cobbled streets and beautiful buildings in so many colours, some covered with the most stunning Portuguese tiles. But Lisbon also has a modern, hip side that is not yet very known by many and that you can`t find on any guidebooks. I found one of those spots, this yet almost secret place is called LX FACTORY and I`ll tell you everything about it here!
… And “Under the Bridge” by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers comes to my mind…
I love exploring the special places in a city, the ones that only the locals know of (and you can see more of my discoveries in my Instagram). They are actually not so hard to find: You just have to ask the right locals – or follow this blog! Hehehe. There`s nothing wrong with doing the touristic kind-of-mandatory travel route, if a place is famous it probably has a good reason to it, either for it`s architectural features, historical heritage, amazing natural characteristics or cultural importance.
The problem with those places is that… Everybody knows of them.
Doesn`t it feel awesome when you go to a place that is super cool but still has that “secret” feeling, that is not overtaken by tourists, a place that even some locals haven`t heard of?
An INSIDER`s place?
This is how an insider`s entrance to a cool place looks like. A bit shady, a bit hidden… But awesome once you step in!
I love this feeling, and even thought if you read this post in a couple of years, this place will probably be in every guidebook by them, right know, LX FACTORY is still a somewhat hidden cultural and leisure island in the Alcantara neighbourhood of Lisbon. I took my time exploring it to show you the coolest stores, restaurants and features of it, so next time you go to Lisbon, you have to add this place to your itinerary!
How cool is this bee mural? LX FACTORY is a place for the creative minds – but also for those who like to eat and drink well and do some shopping!
Just some quick historical facts about the place so you can understand what I`m talking about: These buildings were built in 1846 to be the headquarters of one of the biggest industries of Lisbon, the Companhia de Fiação e Tecidos Lisbonense. Later on it was occupied by another companies, the last one being the Mirandela Printshop, which closed it`s doors so finally in 2008, after some years of abandon, LX Factory was born, as a “creative island”, “A factory of experiences where it becomes possible to intervene, think, produce, present ideas and products in a place that belongs to everyone, for everyone.”
This is becoming quite a trend and I think it`s a pretty amazing one: Recover old, abandoned industrial spaces and return them to society as multi-cultural and leisure spaces. I`ve been to some of those places, like Palo Alto in Barcelona who every month hosts the Palo Alto Market, where designers and artists share the space with food trucks and the best live music (if you come to Barcelona, check their schedule here to make sure you won`t miss this opportunity – plus, the place is beautiful!!!).
But now, back to LX FACTORY:
Do you know why is there a huge hole in the wall? I do!
I was quite intrigued about that giant whole in the wall of the biggest building of LX FACTORY, so I started chatting with one of the many stores owner`s there ( Guiri Insider travel tip: Talk to the locals, ask questions. They are usually very keen on helping and sharing the knowledge and you can learn pretty cool things!). She told me the story of the place, that it opened for the public only 8 years ago, and told me about the hole.
This building was the headquarter of a print industry. When they build the printers, they were put together inside, from pieces, but when everything closed and they had to vacant the building, they noticed that it was too complicated to disassemble them. They had to take them off the building in one piece. But they would not fit through the stairs or the elevator. Nor through the windows, for that matter. So they had to open a hole in the wall to take all the printers off the building, which is now occupied by workspaces, co-working companies and cultural spaces for all kinds of arts. And they left the hole as a testimony of the history of the place. Pretty cool, uh?
Grafitti, street art, mural painting and cultural activities. LX FACTORY is a multidisciplinary space that offers it all…
But let`s talk – or better, let me show you – what else can you do at LX FACTORY. Here`s a visual guide to some of the best places (stores, restaurants, bars) of the complex!
(all the opinions in this post are my own and I wasn`t paid for them, is just what I saw and liked)
Brigadeirando: I have to start with this place. If you ever tried a Brazilian sweet called “brigadeiro”, you will understand my happiness when I saw this place. And they only sell… Well, you can imagine:
The outside terrace and a view of the main street of LX Factory with the bridge.
Brigadeeeeeirossss!!! In many flavours! I took two, one lemon flavour, and one salted-chocolate flavour! I warn you, they are super sweet, but delicious! I was clapping like a trained seal when I saw it!
Café da Fábrica: With an inviting terrace under the trees, this place is a good idea from an afternoon coffee to a drink at night, since they sometimes have live music playing. It was busy from the moment I got there to when I left at night and the live music gave the place a great vibe and I wished I could have stay to watch it…
Livraria Ler Devagar: If you are one for books, you have to put this book store in your “Book stores of the world bucketlist”. This is a place where you can spend hours just looking at books. The space is purely industrial and they have a really nice coffeeshop in the second level!
The bookstore is occupying the place where they used to print newspapers and you can still see the old printer in the second floor, where they also have a bakery and a place for cultural activities. Also the name of the store means “read slowly” and I think it fits this place perfectly, don`t you?
One of the coolest book stores I`ve been to – And I`m quite the book worm!
There are a few decor stores at LX FACTORY, from modern design ones to more traditional, “flea market” style options. As an ex-architect I had to spend quite some time browsing through them, those two are good examples of nice, well curated and unique stores for your home:
More than Wine: As the self-explanatory name of this store, they sell Portuguese wines, and more… Gourmet products, Portuguese ceramic objects and another cool and delicious things. Wanna know what did I buy here? A soap made of beer! (I love soaps!) Can`t wait to shower with this, and no, it doesn`t smell of beer, it smells great!
I love gourmet stores, sadly I was only travelling with hand luggage and couldn`t bring home a bottle of the great Portuguese wines they had…
Pura Cal: A decor store/architectural and design office with some of the coolest design pieces I`ve seen. And isn`t that wall installation amazing? They not only sell design pieces, they produce them and they also work with interior design.
Muitomuito: If you`re a fan of vintage things, this is the place to shop at LX Factory. This is one those stores where you can find unique, antique but cool pieces for your home. Like treasure hunting!
A view of the facades of some of the stores. I love this! A lot of creativity here!
Clothes, accessories and shoes are also products you can find there. This was one of my favourites:
Rutz: This unique store only sells accessories made of cork (!) If you didn`t know, Portugal is also famous – and admired, may I say – by it`s beautiful cork artesanal pieces, specially handbags, but also jewerly like bracelets, necklaces, etc. (I couldn`t resist and bought the most beautiful cork bracelet! Yeiiiii!!!)
If it wasn`t for the fact that the shoes didn`t fit me I would be in serious budget problem there… (here`s something curious about me: I have a “child`s” feet. My feet are so small that I can never by shoes in Europe, even the smaller sizes are too big. Luckily I don`t have that problem in Brazil, so whenever I go back home I buy a lot of shoes… Does any of you have the same problem?)
Since I`ve walked and looked at beautiful things and even had a little shopping spree, I was feeling thirsty. And I was facing a hard decision: In a place that offers so much, how to choose a place?
I had seen this from the street but I had no idea how to get there – or even if that was possible…
As I talked to another shop owner – I think I was feeling conversational that day, I`m not usually that talkative… Must have been my traveler alter-ego in action again – She asked me if I had been to Rio Maravilha.
Rio what? I`ve been to Rio de Janeiro, yes. But no, that was not what she was talking about.
Rio Maravilha is a restaurant/bar/lounge in the last floor of one of the buildings there, with the most amazing views of the 25 de Abril bridge and the Tejo river. And when I mean amazing, I mean this:
Can you spot the dolphins in the picture? 😉
Yes, I can get to where the mosaic girl is! And it is a rooftop bar!!! I felt like I just discovered America!
The name is a tribute to Rio de Janeiro, yes, but this place is amazing all by itself. With many spaces like a modern dinner area with tables with interactive screens to a panoramic space with views of the river and the coolest ceiling (a map with caravels? I did just discover America!), even without the rooftop terrace this place would have my
If the ceiling and the views were not enough reason to stay here, how beautiful are those chairs, Missoni zig-zag style?
Because I`m all for panoramic views and I had my camera with me, I reached for the rooftop, sat comfortably and asked for a glass of Portuguese wine while waiting for the perfect light to take photos. And I have to say, the waiting paid well… This is the view you`ll get from up on the Rio Maravilha terrace bar:
This is the rooftop bar…
… And this, my friends, is the view from it! Have you noticed that the mosaic girl is imitating the Christ the Redeemer that they have on the other side of the river?
After my drink and my shopping I still had some time to explore a little more of this multidisciplinary, multicultural and super creative and cool space. Here are some other restaurants/bar that you can enjoy there. And there were others that I couldn`t photograph this time…
Cantina: This space was originally the canteen for the factory workers, now converted into a restaurant that has kept some of it`s industrial atmosphere while managing to offer a warm vibe with all the vintage furniture.
The interior of Cantina
They also have an open-air terrace under the grapevines, perfect for those warm summer nights!
So next time you are visiting Lisbon, save some time to explore this place, where history meets modernity and culture meets leisure. And if you have been here, let me know what are your favourite places!