Graffiti. What was once seen as a nuisance is now celebrated as an innovative art form, with street art festivals taking place in cities across the world. The Portuguese capital is no exception. In the past 5 years Lisbon has become a hotspot for aspiring (and established) street artists – with the local government embracing the urban art form.

For fans of major street artists like Bordalo and Shephard Fairey, the streets of Lisbon are an open-air gallery – and half the fun is trying to find the latest masterpiece as it appears. If you’re planning a visit to the city, here's our guide to street art in Lisbon featuring the pieces – and the artists – you need to track down.

Bordalo II - Big Raccoon

Artur Bordalo – known as Bordalo II – was born and raised in Lisbon and his artworks can be seen in several places across the city. Bordalo incorporates the things other people throw away into his art, creating a multi-textured relief. He often depicts animals like foxes and raccoons – creatures that also exist on the leftovers of human consumption. You can see many of these “trash animals” around Lisbon – from Big Raccoon, on the side of the Centro Cultural in Belem, to the Giant Fox on Avenida 24 Julio along the waterfront in Santos, to Trash Puppy, watching the traffic in Cabo Ruivo near the Parque das Nacoes.

Bordalo II's Big Raccoon – one of several "Trash Animals" you can see in Lisbon © Pedro Ribeiro Simoes via Flickr/Creative Commons

Planning a trip to Lisbon? Check out our handy where to stay guide.

AKA Corleone - Fernando Pessoa Mural

Another native Lisbonite, Pedro Campiche, or AKA Corleone, is loved in the city for his graphic, multi-coloured murals, even working with local residents to create truly public art. The Fernando Pessoa-inspired mural in the hilltop Graça neighbourhood came about in collaboration with the residents of the apartment building it adorns. Long-time Lisbon resident Tom Davis who lives in the building explained to me how it happened:

“A few of my neighbours and I had always dreamed of using the wall of our building as a space for public art, as it is visible from all over the city. A year or two before, some kids had tagged the wall with a bucket of paint, damaging cars and buildings while they were at it, so we were keen to stop that from happening again. The opportunity came along when the building was undergoing renovation works and we talked to a few Lisbon street artists to understand what might be involved. One local artist stood out, AKA Corleone – not only had he always wanted to paint the wall but he lived just down the road. So, together with Vhils’ Underdogs Gallery (which represents him), a collaboration was born.”

The mural is visible from most of the city’s viewpoints or Miradouros, but you can head to Rua Damasceno Monteiro for a closer look. Corleone’s works can also be seen in Rua Sao Bento, and at Village Underground on Rua 1 Maio.

Lisbon Street Art - AKA Corleone in GracaAKA Corleone's Fernando Pessoa mural in Graça © Tom Davis

Shepard Fairey – Revolutionary Woman

When American Street Art giant Shepard Fairey arrived in Lisbon in 2017 he helped to bring the city’s urban art onto the world stage. The instigator of the OBEY project - started in the '90s and now see on stickers, T-shirts and hats worldwide, and creator of the iconic Obama “Hope” image, used in the 2008 presidential campaign, Fairey was one of the first artists to take graffiti into the mainstream to be accepted as an art form.

Head to Rua Natalia Correia in Graça to see Fairey’s mural of a female revolutionary soldier with a carnation in the muzzle of her gun – a reference to Lisbon’s own Carnation Revolution that marked the end of Salazar’s dictatorship. You’ll find a second Shepard Fairey work nearby on Rua da Senhora de Gloria. Created in collaboration with Lisbon artist Vhils, it depicts a woman’s face divided into two, with the different sides created by the two artists.

Lisbon Street Art - Shepard Fairey Revolutionary WomanShepard Fairey's Revolutionary Woman in Graça © Jenny Cahill-Jones

Vhils - Faces of Lisbon

Perhaps the best known Portuguese street artist, Vhils – real name Alexandre Farto – hit the world stage when he took part in Banksy’s Cans show in London in 2008. Unlike many other street artists, Vhils works without paint – instead he chips away at the surface of a wall to create faces in relief. Some of his best-loved works in Lisbon – including the timeless face of an old man overlooking Avenida da India near the LX factory – have been destroyed in recent years as the city’s abandoned buildings get earmarked for redevelopment, but you can still see some of his faces looking out from the walls of the Alfama district, or on Avenida Calouste Gulbenkian.

Lisbon Street Art - Vhils FaceOne of Vhils' eerie faces gazing out from Avenida Calouse Gulkenkian © R2Hox/Flickr via Creative Commons

Planning a trip to Lisbon? Check out our handy where to stay guide.

Header image: Vhils/Shephard Fairey mural in Graça © Jenny Cahill-Jones

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