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In this article we call your attention to peculiar urban furniture. Today, they are true museum pieces, testimonies of an era – the old public urinals of Lisbon. Maybe you’ve already passed by the remaining ones and never paid attention to them.
The Appearance of the Public Urinals in Lisbon
The 19th century saw the expansion of cities and their planning, so it was necessary to create new urban furniture such as drinking troughs, drinking fountains, decorative fountains, kiosks, bandstands, railings, benches and other functional or decorative elements.
France was a pioneer and was mainly responsible for pieces that were created, developed and produced in French foundries and sold by catalogue and exported all over the world.
Public urinals were one of these pieces invented by the French in this period and sold all over Europe and America. They are still present in cities like Paris, Amsterdam and Berlin.
Lisbon also imported this invention and we could find them in many corners and squares of the city. Old photographs reveal not only their existence, but also a great diversity of models.
This iron-built urban furniture had, in most cases, interesting artistic details. They usually consisted of a suspended, decorated plate, sometimes covered with roofs or domes similar to kiosks.
Over time, public urinals fell into disuse. New and more comfortable, hygienic, private and suitable for women sanitary facilities, replaced this piece of urban furniture.
We’re referring to the WC kiosks; to an elegant construction, today with another use, in the Príncipe Real Garden and to the nicknamed Chalé Xixi (pee cottage), long gone even from the memory of the “alfacinhas” (inhabitants of Lisbon), which was located on the western slope of Liberdade Avenue.
The Surviving Old Public Urinals of Lisbon
Currently, we believe that there are only three old public urinals left in Lisbon. If you know any more do not hesitate in sharing with us.
With quite different typologies, the first and the most famous one in Rua do Chão da Feira at São Jorge Castle’s entrance, it has a plaque cut out with the figure of a boy peeing that reminds us of Manneken Pis of Brussels.
Less well known are two, both in our Eastern Zone, one covered, in Poço Bispo and the other, less visible and in a worse condition, in Viscondessa dos Olivais Square.
If you pass by one of these places, don’t miss these old public urinals of Lisbon, unique and curious examples.
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