A nicely looking colorful street, many house facades richly covered with azulejos (Portuguese style tiles >>>) and much dynamic traffic climbing the hills, at which the city is located. A quite nice view. My favorite photo from Lisbon, Portugal.
Although showing a true location, the picture is barely representative for the Lisbon historic city. As our guide took us for a walk through the old city quarters at first we were not asking any questions about ruined and deserted houses we saw around. Each city, especially a historical one has problems with renovating facades of old houses. The bigger the historic city, the bigger the problem. But in Lisbon the problem seems to be indeed very acute. The number of deserted or simply neglected houses we saw around us was outstanding. The same evening we came back to spend a fado evening in the historic city (fado is traditional Portuguese music). The streets were empty, almost no nightlife in the middle of the summer.
It was indeed surprising. The layout of the city and its architecture are great. The city is one of the kind. The historic quarters, like in other great European cities: Paris, London or Rome are widespread. This would be a tremendous place for small hotels, restaurants, clubs and poshy apartments. And much much life from the very morning till late in the night.
Back home I did my small investigation in the internet. Found articles about the ageing city, a half a million people choosing small cities surrounding Lisbon at the coastal side and commuting day by day by railways or cars. Apartments and houses are at last tree times cheaper there than in the historic Lisbon quarters. But also people, who could afford higher rents avoid the Lisbon historic centre. It is a chain reaction. As people prefer suburbs, it is no longer profitable to offer daily and leisurely services in the city. Those who would afford higher rents, had however have no life quality. There is also a historical background behind the problem. In times of the Salazar regime, the rents had to be very low by low. Low rents meant for years no funds for renovation at the disposal of house owners. Through years houses went into ruin. Now, only rich investors may afford an all-around renovation. But later on, they have to demand high rents to reach break even in foreseeable time. The circle is closing. The other problem are the property rights. To sell a house one has to agree on with all owners. As the city has been deserting for decades, we deal here with outstanding inheritance issues. They can prolong the investment process forever. The outstanding proprietary issues are particularly problematic for foreign investors.
Walking the streets of historic Lisbon you can see the greatness of the city. But when you are on vacation and look for a place to spend the night and before enjoy the evening, just choose the location more carefully than in other European capitals.
Index of posts on Portugal >>>