The cat's out the bag, it has been for some time now. Lisbon is the new capital of 'cool' in Europe. It began as a whispered statement amongst people until it eventually blew up with some coverage in larger publications. If you didn't know, now you do. But maybe it's better to see for yourself with this video.
Lisbon is a city with many faces. In a day you can go to the beach in the morning, have lunch in one of Europe's oldest restaurant, then go for a late-afternoon stroll through some beautiful woodlands. This is only part of the appeal though, the other part is something you can't really see or touch - it's more of a feeling.
Lisbon's trajectory as the place to be hasn't been steady - the growth has been exponential, stratospheric and instead of inducing a meltdown, it's re-energised a city full of creative minds. It's been a new cultural revolution.
The city is becoming increasingly defined by the willingness of its people to embrace change and move with the times, instead of fighting against it. It's an entrepreneurial culture, even for the vast majority of people that aren't entrepreneurs.
Recently I walked past a restaurant. There were two chefs waiting outside with their knives and a man on a bike. The man had connected a belt system to his bike's chain - allowing the motion of the wheel, when raised off the ground by a bike-stand, to spin a sharpening block. When the job was done, he just lifted up the bike-stand and cycled off. He is only one of many examples of the way that the rapid change has been welcomed.
This spirit of overcoming things, of an essential optimism, isn't new to Portuguese people. The country's tumultuous past has ignited within them a fierce willingness to adapt to difficult circumstances. As if in honour of this spirit, a huge new centre for business and entrepreneurship will be opening soon, the Club Criativo Beato, along the banks of the River Tejo.
The featured video here, created by the team at Solid Dogma. one of the spearhead's of Lisbon's blossoming design ecosystem, has recently been chosen by Vimeo as a Staff Picks, an acknowledgement of the work gone into, the concept behind and the finished product of the video. More than that though, it's a nod to that feeling, the one captured in the video and the one that keeps new businesses opening, new events popping up and people from returning to visit.
It is interesting that in a time when the world's capitals begin to become more homogenous, more grey and glass, Lisbon becomes more autonomous. There's whole streets painted pink, entire building's facades covered in tiles and huge murals covering prominent buildings. If you like art, food, music, or just the real life-energy that some places emanate, then Lisbon stands head and shoulders above the rest.
Despite all the change, Lisbon is still an old city - the oldest capital in Europe. The streets are charmingly paved, old ladies still beat their door mats from floral balconies overhead and the traditional melancholic music of Fado still haunts the historic parts of the city. It's a city in transition, which makes it exciting - the grey area between old and new is the inexplicable space that confirms that Lisbon's time is now.
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