Parque das Nações, Contemporary Lisbon Rises
Few remember this area before it was redeveloped for the 1998 World Expo, rising from the ruins of industrial wasteland and gas depots. Today, shining towers house residents, large international companies and hotels that face a broad expanse of river next to the stunning Vasco da Gama bridge. A trendy shopping mall with stores and restaurants sits next to the sleek Oriente transit station that links the Parque das Nações to Lisbon and the airport. There is also easy access to major roads and parking is plentiful. Most importantly, this area has evolved into a cultural hub for all ages. Families return often to the interactive Science Center while world-famous performances are booked at the modern arena. Safe, level pedestrian zones lead from the Oceanarium, Europe's largest, through verdant sculpture gardens on to a marina and the casino. Restaurants along the avenues and the riverside offer a relaxing glass of wine and a variety of menus.
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When people living in the Parque das Nações describe their neighborhood, they speak first about their quality of life.
Built along the Tejo River, one of this neighborhood’s strengths is how it has harnessed the energy and beauty of the river front. The walking path that forms the neighborhood’s western border follows the Tejo, dotted with various themed gardens, large and small restaurants, green spaces and some of Lisbon’s key sites. The magnificent landscape and views make this an ideal place to breathe deeply and relax from the hustle of a busy city while only steps away from all the conveniences.
Residents from other parts of Lisbon flock here on weekends and evenings to stroll or bike, roller blade with the children and enjoy restaurants, museums and the shopping mall. There is plenty of parking and excellent public transportation. Those who live here step out their door for a morning or evening run in the fresh air. Parque das Nações is a spacious, level area, wide open, clean, green and well maintained. It’s one of the most pleasant and convenient areas to live in Lisbon.
Parque das Nações is a planned neighborhood, built from industrial ruins for the World Expo ‘98. Using the river as a focal point, modern construction features wide streets, easy access in and out of the city and all the amenities needed in a walking neighborhood.
With Lisbon’s abundance of history and older buildings, this area takes a different turn, offering both high-rise and low-rise housing construction, sky-high office towers and hotels. It is one of the more expensive areas for housing yet everything is newer, modern and well planned.
A well thought out, well-built modern site with all the facilities and all the services you might want.
José Diogo Lopes, 27, Product Manager
It is also well connected with the rest of Lisbon. The Gare do Oriente station (designed by Santiago Calatrava) houses the train, subway and bus lines that whisk you to the airport, into Lisbon, the Algarve or elsewhere. Major roads are easily reached by car and the nearby Vasco da Gama bridge soars over the Tejo to the opposite side of the river.
While this is a young neighborhood in terms of buildings and residents, access to services and the level of trade are high. The Vasco do Gama mall’s shops offer technology, toys, housewares and clothing stores, personal care and a large food court as well as restaurants.
Modern schools for all grades, a hospital, police stations, churches, playgrounds, cafes, bakeries, cultural buildings and large grocery stores crisscross this neighborhood where daily life can be conducted on foot. Post-Expo construction has continued, attracting more workers, visitors and residents. Many Expo buildings have been repurposed and continue to be used for concerts, festivals and events. Nightlife is a bit slower here. Perhaps it’s the growth of business centers that generate a lot of movement during the day or simply the result of a maturing neighborhood, but Parque das Nações is creating its own identity.
Despite all the energy and amenities, this remains a relatively quiet neighborhood where public spaces are well used. It’s a safe place to live, walk and do business during the day or night. This tranquility and the beauty make all the difference.
Parque das Nações attracts primarily the middle to upper-middle class with good purchasing power who value convenience, nature and relaxation after a busy day. Residents range from young couples in their 30s and 40s, including young families, to persons in their 50s and 60s who moved from nearby areas to live along the river.
During the day, the population is expanded by office employees, shoppers and visitors. The frenzy in the morning and late afternoon centers around the Gare do Oriente station and Vasco da Gama mall; restaurants and cafes overflow with workers and entrepreneurs for lunch and some after-work conversations.
Tourists also frequent this unusual, modern part of Lisbon to visit the stunning Oceanarium or shops. Weekends bring more tourists and Lisbon residents to the river front than residents as the gardens, commercial areas and fresh air attract them to this river neighborhood. After all, it is the ‘Nation’s Park’.
I can walk to everything—no need to take the car—to access playgrounds, super markets, shops. We have everything. It is a highly recommended place and enjoyable to live in.
Ana Isabel, 40, Product Manager
Parque das Nações has three distinct zones: the Center, North Zone and South Zone.
The Central Zone is a concentration of trade, public transportation and services. Thousands of people pass daily through the imposing Gare do Oriente transportation center and the Centro Comercial Vasco da Gama, a bright mall situated between the transportation station and the river. There are also many restaurants and cafes on nearby streets. Along the river are key attractions: the Meo Arena, the largest theater in Lisbon that hosts concerts and spectacular shows; the FIL, an exhibition hall; Pavilhão de Portugal with its imposing sloped entry hall; the Oceanarium, the largest in Europe; the Pavilion of Knowledge, serving as an interactive children’s science and learning center; and, the Teatro Camões.
I think the best part is just being here by the river. It's great for weekend power walks and playing with my daughter in the grassy areas alongside the river. Or, go it alone; put on your tennis shoes and take a run!
Rita Garcia, 37, Manager
The Southern area is more residential and less commercial. Buildings are only a few stories tall, the population density is lower, tranquility is higher. The Marina is in this zone. There are a number of small restaurants along the river and inland.
A mix of the Central and Southern Zones defines the Northern area. Residences coexist with a density of services and businesses. The pace is faster and streets are busier. Here we have the tallest building in Portugal, the Vasco da Gama Tower.
The Tejo River connects these three zones. It is the line along which movement is greatest, where having coffee while looking out to the river or reading the newspaper, playing sports or simply walking along attracts people day and night. The river fills the eyes and the soul!
A neighborhood that’s just passing its 25th birthday doesn’t harbor too many secrets. Most people know that before Expo ’98 this area was a giant storage container and trash can. It took a grand vision to create what we see today.
Currently, the Gare do Oriente is one of the largest stations in the world, with 75 million passengers per year, making it as busy as Grand Central Terminal in New York.
Despite its overall popularity, areas in the Parque das Nações are underused and waiting to be discovered. Several parks along the river are well maintained, yet during the day are often empty. Some hours of the day and the week, these parks hardly see anyone, making this a good time to find them.
If you seek peace, this is where you will find it!
Although this is a very urban area, we find calm spaces and a chance for a relaxing breath in the riverside area.
Francisco Henriques, 27, Doctoral Researcher
Parque das Nações, Contemporary Lisbon Rises