Streetlife

The world’s most iconic streets are more than just famous landmarks. Every issue we delve a little deeper into one of the globe’s most well-trodden by-ways.

This month:

Avenida da Liberdade – Lisbon,

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Avenida da Liberdade – Lisbon

By Ben West

This elegant tree-lined boulevard, Lisbon’s main street, is peppered with chic hotels, pools and fountains, luxury shops, theatres, monuments and statues. It runs for a mile (1.6km), linking the central squares of Restauradores and Marquês de Pombal, and connects the older 18th cenury quarters of the Baixa with the more northern parts of the city that developed in the 19th and 20th centuries. Being more than 300ft (90m) wide, there’s plenty of room for ample pavements decorated in abstract patterns and ideal for a stroll, whenever the traffic subsides.

Shopping

If you are looking for bargain buys, this is not the place to go. Being one of the swankiest addresses in Europe, it is not surprising that the avenue is full of shops displaying high fashion and popular international brands. Outlets include Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Hugo Boss, D&G, Versace, Armani and Gucci.

Eating

The avenue is lined with some of the city’s most pleasant pavement cafes. There are lots of small, independent eateries both on and just off the avenue, including Ribadouro at Avenida da Liberdade 155, which is renowned for its excellent fresh seafood and beers. At number 185 sits contemporary gourmet restaurant Terraço, on the top floor of the 1950s modernist Tivoli Lisboa Hotel. Leave the main thoroughfare for cheaper cafes, restaurants and bars, with good selections in neighbouring Baixa and Bairro Alto.

History

Lisbon’s grandest avenue was built between 1879 and 1886 in the style of the great boulevards of Paris and is seen as the Portuguses equivalent of the Champs Elysees. Soon after completion it became a popular address for the upper classes. Named Passeio Público prior to the 1974 Revolution, where an army rebellion overthrew Portugal’s fascist dictatorship, it has seen many original buildings replaced in recent decades – some of them, unfortunately, rather ugly and inappropriate – so that it is now a showcase of Portuguese architectural styles spanning the late 19th to early 21st centuries. Generally, the further you walk from the river along the avenue, the more modern it becomes. It has been the location for many parades, march-pasts and demonstrations over the years.

Read all about it

Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935), Portugal’s best-known poet and author of The Book of Disquiet, a work of prose set in Lisbon, called the Avenue “the finest artery in Lisbon”. He wrote: “Fleeting black shadow of a city tree, quiet sound of water falling into a sad fountain, straight-edged green lawn in a public park at twilight, at this moment, you are my entire universe.”

Best Boutique Stay

The Heritage Av Liberdade Hotel is a delightful, swish restored late 18th century building with rooms from €139.00. www.heritage.pt

Best Budget Bed

Residencia Nova Avenida is a charming pension with a blue and white tiled entrance and marble staircase, some balconied rooms, some even with chandeliers. Rooms from €15.00.

http://avenida.no.sapo.pt/index.htm

For Sale

Pied-a-terre: a small apartment nearby would start at around £90,000.

Moving in: Your are looking at £5m or so for a large house here, and a four-bedroom luxury duplex apartment in the Avenida da Liberdade vicinity would currently set you back around £2m.

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