“And after this, were headed to the ghetto,” said our tour guide from the driver seat of our 8-passenger van that was taking us all over Lisbon, Portugal.
We all kind of laughed.
“That sounded like more of a nervous or scared laugh,” he responded.
Well the truth was when I heard Lisbon street art tour, I envisioned looking at cool murals in those cute Lisbon streets that the little trollies drive on. And while the tour started out in more of the downtown or classic streets of Libson, where we spent the majority of our time was a neighborhood none of us would have sought out on our own. And I loved that.
First, to fully experience what this tour is like, you have to check out our ride. Since it is the street art tour, the ride has to suit it.
This thing got us all over the city. If you have ever been to Lisbon, you know that it is quite a hilly city.
Lisbon street art tour neighborhood
After looking at a few works more in the city, we headed up to the Quinta do Mocho. It would take you about 45-50 minutes by public transport to get up to this neighborhood. Or you can just book the Lisbon street art tour like I did and they take you up there.
What is Quinta do Mocho? It’s a neighborhood of mostly immigrants from Portugal’s former African colonies. Many countries throughout Europe have former colonies in Africa, South America and Asia. I utterly hate colonialism. I always wondered what the world would be like if these former colonial powers such as Spain, England and Portugal had just let people in other lands be. However it happened and you can still see how it affects the world today.
I always am fascinated by their modern day relationships with each other. In the case of Portugal, you find many people from countries such as Angola, Mozambique and Cape Verde. All of these countries were once colonies of Portugal and all gained their independence in the last century. After this time perhaps in the 70s-80s, many immigrants were moving to Portugal to work the jobs the Portuguese did not want. For many, life in Portugal gave them far more opportunities than the had back in their countries. The housing is not as nice as flats you find in the city centre. I’m sure some Lisbon residents would warn us to “be careful” when going there. I, however, loved it.
Their stories reminded me of the hispanic immigrants living in the United States. They too often live in parts of of cities such as Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and even my hometown of Cincinnati. Many Americans would label those neighborhoods as dangerous. However at the end of the day despite the stereotypes, the residents are just working hard to provide their families with a better life. Also anyone who knows me personally knows that I have a heart for the hispanic immigrant community in the United States. It’s one of the reasons I speak Spanish.
A different side of Lisbon
When I travel, I live for the authentic stories not found in the guide books or on trip advisor. I love the things that only the locals know to take you to. That is the whole idea behind Follow Your Destination, the tour company that does this street art tour. You get to experience Lisbon from a local.
This work was one of my favorites. As mentioned before, Quinta do Mocho is a neighborhood of African immigrants working in Portugal for a better life. This work is about them, the work they do and their presence in Lisbon.
This was my favorite work on the tour because of the meaning behind it. This is about how many women of color from the former colonies in Portugal often work as maids. During their work, they feel as though they cannot act as themselves. It’s like they have to put on this metaphorical white mask.
I loved this painting because it could be applied to race all over the world. In the United States, black women are always being told that their natural hair is not professional enough. One of my friends spent hours straightening her hair before a very important job interview. And while I’m sure she didn’t hate the way it looked when she finished it, she would rather just be accepted in the work place with her natural hair. I also hear people all the time talking about how they have to change their ways of speaking in the work place. I am white and am only coming at this perspective from what my friends of color have told me, so I know I’ll never fully understand what it is like. However I do recognize that these things are not fair. I hope that this work can resonate with everyone who sees it.
The works of the neighborhood
We were walked through Quinta do Mocho for a few hours as we stopped to look at each work. I love the concept of street art. I think that art should be for everyone to enjoy.
These two pieces were from the city centre.
Do you like street art? What cities have you found with the best street art?