It is with great pleasure and gratitude that we’re publishing, on the eve of the 13th edition of Festival TODOS, the story of its creator. In Lisbon in Us by Miguel Abreu, the cultural producer, born in Lisbon, shares with us his perspective on this city that never ceases to amaze him.
I’m from Lisbon. Born and raised in this beautiful city. My parents and grandparents were also from Lisbon. Our family home was, and is, Lisbon. Where I always go back and calm down. And become restless. Lisbon is a sunny, luminous city that turns shy when it rains. In this relationship with nature, Lisbon asserts itself full of contrasts and contradictions, which transforms it into a dynamic and living organism, perfectly imperfect.
It tires me with the steep and slippery streets, but eases me with the wide horizons where the sun sets, throwing at us an inspiring and creative nostalgia, particularly moving, for me, from the Príncipe Real Garden. Lisbon and its viewpoints, always from different angles, always providing other perspectives on the city. By the way, Lisbon appears almost perfect when seen from above – the privilege of a distant look, of the passenger transformed into a spectator, who observes, from a distance, the houses, as if it were a painting, at the landing of any plane.
For more than a decade, between 1984 and 1997, A Brasileira café was my production office; there I had my meetings; there I challenged authors to write drama plays, cast for the shows, imagined artistic and cultural projects. There were still no mobile phones, and certainly no internet, nor underground in Chiado. And so, the café manager, complicit in my daily presence, received phone calls for me… “Miguel, can you take this call from RTP (the National Public broadcaster) for you?“ Carlos, a dedicated and cheerful employee, shouted at me.
Chiado and Príncipe Real are still my favourite places in Lisbon.
But since 2009, when I had the privilege of being invited by the City Council of Lisbon to create, and implement an intercultural project for the city, in this case the Festival TODOS – Caminhada de Culturas, I’ve had the opportunity of discovering other fascinating corners and charms of the city.On the one hand, I got to know the cosmopolitan and diverse dynamic of the more touristic city and, on the other, I moved away from its more bourgeois side, discovering the strength of its most popular populations, including immigrants. It was the discovery of Mouraria and Intendente, Rua do Benformoso and the multicultural city hidden among mosques, shops and clandestine restaurants, mixed with Catholic processions, fado and popular marches.
This other Lisbon is in turn different from the Lisbon of São Bento. In turn, radically different from Santana Hill or Graça and Santa Engrácia, where Lisbon breathes at other rhythms. At the same time, paradoxically, their people are so similar, in their neighbourhood spirits, in their territorialities.
Festival TODOS 2021
And what about the Lisbon that I discovered this year with the 13th edition of TODOS 2021? The Lisbon of Santa Clara, to Alta de Lisboa, in the lands with Paleolithic finds of Ameixoeira, Charneca and Galinheiras, names that some politicians wish to erase?
A whole other reality in Lisbon where bourgeois populations of luxury condominiums intersect with herds in their urban grazing, Afro-descendant and gypsy populations, living with circus artists, elderly people from Alentejo and northern Portugal, with their vegetable gardens and their open views, alongside hundreds of young people, if Santa Clara weren’t one of the civil parishes with the highest rate of young population…
An unlikely viewpoint for airplanes, the Cantinho da Ameixoeira restaurant, the Galinheiras Square and its fair, the 18th-century churches and the old farms and their palaces (Quinta Alegre and Quinta de Santa Clara, for example), the Ameixoeira Velha (old Ameixoeira), the hidden ruins from the old Estrela cinema, the Charneca Musical and Artistic Band, the Parque Agrícola da Alta de Lisboa (vegetable garden park). In sum, there are dozens of points of interest to visit and enjoy in the city’s most hidden territory.
Damn, Lisbon never ceases to amaze me. And there, from the very top of Parque Agrícola, or from the upper part of PER 11 (a social housing neighbourhood), don’t miss another stunning sunset in Lisbon, which even offers you the possibility of observing, at night, the sky of Lisbon with all the stars it is entitled to.
|Lisbon in Us by Miguel Abreu|
|Mini introduction||Creator and director of Festival Todos – Caminhada de Culturas since 2009; he has been a cultural producer since 1987, when he created the production company Cassefaz and since 1999 that he’s been president of the Academy of Cultural Producers. He was theatre manager at Maria Matos – Municipal Theatre; theatre programmer at Centro Cultural de Belém; theatre programmer and production director at Faro – National Capital of Culture. He founded CENTA – Centre for the Study of New Artistic Trends and is co-founder of the association Fórum Dança. Currently, he has in theatres shows of which he is also the director: Paiaçú, ou pai grande; Fragmentos do Fim; Cartas do Novo Mundo; Consentimento-a perda do paraíso. He’s currently working on “Nevada, a americana que queria ser rainha de Portugal”, for the Ajuda National Palace.|
|An inspiring place||Príncipe Real Garden (officially França Borges Garden), which allows you to see a unique sunset over the Estrela Basilica.|
|An unmissable visit||Rua do Benformoso, for those who want to discover a multicultural Lisbon; Milk Station Museum for those who want to discover an unexpected and almost unknown museum in Santa Apolónia.|
|His mouth waters with…||The delicacies of Tantura restaurant, in Rua do Trombeta (Bairro Alto), Peixola (in Rua do Alecrim) and the Portuguese sweet rice, with corn, in Cantinho da Ameixoeira (Largo do Terreiro, Ameixoeira)|
|A song…||Ironically, I choose Lisboa não sejas francesa (Lisbon, don’t be French)|
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