Bela Silva – 24 hours in Lisbon

on Jul 1, 2010 in Now Boarding | No Comments

Accompanying artist Bela Silva and discovering different corners of Lisbon is quite an adventure. From the Baixa district to Avenida Almirante Reis, from Oriental art, her favourite eating place and the most authentic shop in the city, Bela helps us to understand that distance makes the grass this side of the fence greener.

From Lisbon to Tokyo, she has travelled the world with her art, exhibiting in solo and collective show. Born in Almada, in 1966, she attended classes at Belas Artes in Lisbon and later at Ar.Co. She studied archaeology in Greece, before travelling to the United States and taking a Master’s in Sculpture at the Chicago Art Institute. Be it on canvas or in clay, the hands of Bela Silva create parallels with fantasy via the world of imagery that features half-human, half-animal creatures and where influences from the Middle Ages predominate. Her work can be seen in a panel of tiles that decorates the Alvalade metro station, in Lisbon. Dividing her time between the Portuguese capital and New York, she is one of the most international of Portuguese artists.

by Manuel Simões


Books and cakes

“I see bookshops almost like churches. Livraria Bertrand has a huge selection and I like to enjoy a croissant while doing a bit of morning reading in the bookshop café. It’s great to start the morning in a place that’s over two hundred years old, situated in such an emblematic neighbourhood: Chiado.”

Livraria Bertrand
Rua Garrett, 17
+351 21 347 6122


The Ali Babá of buttons

“I call it the button shop and it’s a lovely haberdasher’s that has shelves full of coloured buttons. Sometimes I go there to buy ribbons and other accessories that I only use later or never used. In New York there was a similar shop and it was like walking into Ali Baba’s cave. Full of treasure.”

Retrosaria Adriano Coelho
Rua da Conceição, 121


Authentic is good

“In the discreet Estrela da Sé restaurant there’s a room with just a few tables and then a room with just the one table. It’s an excellent place for a business lunch or something a bit more intimate, an old-fashioned restaurant with traditional dishes and very Portuguese décor, where the tiles really stand out.”

Restaurante Estrela da Sé
Largo de Santo António da Sé, 4
+351 21 887 0455


Multicultural dessert

“Here is where I like having green tea and dessert, which are fantastic and light. The owner is a Portuguese man who married a Japanese woman and learnt to make a very light Japanese pão-de-ló (traditional Portuguese sponge).”

Martinho da Arcada
Praça do Comércio, 3
+351 21 887 9259


A secret

“This is a place that people are unaware of which also serves lunch. Inside, there’s a 19th-century hall with stunning architecture and which, unfortunately, only opens once a month. If you visit the place, the doorman will open the door so you can take a peek inside. It also has a bar which feels like you’re in London.”

Sociedade Nacional de Geografia
Rua das Portas de Santo Antão, 100


South in the Americas

“My mid-afternoon snack is enjoyed in Pastelaria Mexicana, which I’m a big fan of. Aesthetically it’s great because of the things that cover the walls, like the ceramic panel by Querubim Lapa. As for the huge selection of cakes here, it’s a serious temptation for anyone.”

Pastelaria Mexicana
Av. Guerra Junqueiro, 30-C
+351 21 848 6119


Bairro do Oriente

“This antique shop in Bairro Alto, which covers 300 square metres, opened a year ago and it looks like an art gallery. Oriental porcelain, Indo-Portuguese, Afro-Portuguese, Sino-Portuguese and nambam works of art are unique and extraordinary because of the rarity and exoticness. The designs and decoration of these items, some of them brought from the Orient by the Portuguese, are very important in the work I’m doing.”

Galeria Jorge Welsh
Rua da Misericórdia, 43
+351 21 395 3375


Savouring the sea

“I love sitting down by the river in Cais do Sodré. Café Malaca is on the second floor of Clube Naval de Lisboa and it’s a place with great Indonesian food. I like Portuguese food, but sometimes I feel the need for something a bit more exotic. One day, they gave us an ice-bucket with a bottle of white wine, two lovely glasses and me and my partner went and sat on the jetty. With the Tagus right there, who needs anything else.”

Café Malaca
Clube Naval de Lisboa, Cais do Gás, Armazém H
+351 21 347 7082


Dolce vita

“I call it café Fellini, because it’s reminiscent of the director’s famous film. It’s got two floors and the restaurant has a huge ceramic panel with figures. There’s no other café like it in Lisbon, nor any café with a similar history. It’s got lots of events going on at night.”

Café Império
Avenida Almirante Reis, 205 A, B, C
+351 21 247 1765



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