History, Horchata & Hope: How Classic Kiosks Are Boosting Lisbon’s Public Life
Lisbon is a city of plazas, parks, overlooks and gardens. For more than a century, these beautiful public spaces were graced by Art Noveau and Moorish-style kiosks — small, ornate structures that provided chairs and shade and served traditional Portuguese snacks and drinks.
These quiosques de refrescos (refreshment kiosks) were the heart of public life in the city. But, under the long dictatorship of Prime Minister António de Oliveira Salazar, which started in the 1930s, laws actually discouraged public gathering and conversation. Many restaurants closed down and the kiosks fell into disrepair and all but disappeared.
That was, until Catarina Portas, a native of Lisbon, former journalist and entrepreneur stepped in.
The world slowly opens its eyes for Lisbons 5th Icon. The kiosks
The whole world knows about the Lisbons Trams & Tiles. And thanks to VHILS and his Underdog walls around town more and more travelers starts recognizing Lisbon for its street art. And more and more people have discovered the Calçadas under their feet. And slowly people opens their eyes for Lisbon’s 5th Icon: All the beautiful Kiosks.
For some strange reasons the kiosks we have here in Graca are among the ugliest in town. But they sere their purpose… as small city oasis where us locals rest for a coffee, meet over lunch og just sit and do nothing. The reasons are easy: the kiosks are always located in central places surrounded by local life and somehow in peaceful settings with trees that cover for the sun… the kiosks invite you to sit down and just do nothing for a while.
To us its a big mystery that Lisbon is the only European city that not only protect and preserves the kiosks. They also encourage new ones… like the one we got en the new Graca Park that opened earlier this year.
“We went to the city council with amazing photographs of the old kiosks, and we prepared all the old drinks and made them taste the drinks,” Portas says.
The pitch worked — Portas is fairly sure it was the drinks that convinced the council members. Their first three kiosks opened in 2009.
Our home city Copenhagen has been very active doing the opposite: closing down it’s old and very beautiful kiosks. Instead they and their fellow European Capital should visit entrepreneur Catarina Portas and architect João Regal and hear about their experience and the return home and make a lot of similar kiosks.
Its good for local life