Evolution of the Waterfront and the Port of Lisbon from 1887 to 1974

Evolution of the Waterfront and the Port  of Lisbon from 1887 to 1974


In the previous article we could see the pre-industrial evolution of Lisbon´s waterfront during the 18th and 19th centuries. We got to know the alternative visions for the port and the riverfront, and how the process to reach a final proposal for the new industrial harbor took some time and was considerably complex. As we saw this process culminated in 1887 with the final competition for the port development plan.

FInal plan by Hersent, based in the one developed previously by Loureiro. Retrieved from Arquitectura – A Cidade e o rio. Actas do seminário Internacional “renovação urbana nas zonas ribeirinhas”, 1988

This article will explain how the winning proposal was developed during the first decades of the 20th century. We will also see how the industry and the port evolved, implementing new infrastructure that gradually separated the city from the river and the port.

Finally we will also a second key moment of the port-city relation, at the end of the first-half of the past century, when the waterfront starts to be specialized, segregating different functions At the same time this change allowed the implementation of urban programs on the waterfront for the first time. The changes here mentioned crafted the current image of the port and the riverfront. The final discussion at the end of the 20th century about the regeneration of the water edge and the relation with the river will be left for the next article.

Construction of the first section of the 1887 port plan

On October 31st of 1887 the construction of the new port of Lisbon began. That day was marked by celebrations both for the inauguration of the port development construction and the birthday of King D. Luis (Silva, 1923). The project was divided into 4 sectors. The first one considered the central part of waterfront, went from Sta. Apolónia railway station to Alcântara, the second from Alcântara to Belém, the third one was the eastern section of the riverbank and the 4th one was the south side of the Tagus river (Nabais& Ramos, 1987) (Costa, 2006)

The civil Engineer Hildernet Hersent was considered the winner of the competition in April 1887. His project took the one from Loureiro and Matos as starting point, but included several changes due to technical and economic issues. He was in charge for the development of the first section while the national railway company was responsible for the second one. The other two sectors were left for future construction.

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The construction of the first section of the port of Lisbon was not easy and found several problems along the way. Some authors (AGPL, 1958)(Costa, 2006) have divided the process into two phases, a first one from the competition date until 1894, and he second one from 1894 until 1907. During this period the court of arbitrage was forced to intervene twice in conflicts between the contractor and the state. In 1891 the contract was reviewed, extending it for 10 years. A new contract was made in 1894 and the court of arbitrage decided in 1902 to extend the arrangement until the final date of 1907 (AGPL, 1926). Although the construction was supposed to be finished several issues affected it´s normal development, afterwards there were several works necessary to the full completion of the plan, which was not finished until several years after. In 1907 the state took control of the new port facilities and the new territory. For the management of this infrastructure the Minister of public works created an autonomous board formed by seven elements coming from the different actors involved in the port and maritime activities[1]. The new organizations was named the Administração Geral do Porto de Lisboa (AGPL). (ibid.)(AGPL, 1938) (Nabais & Ramos, 1987).

The second section of Lisbon´s waterfront included, besides the railway infrastructure, several docks, but were mainly destined to the navy or other uses rather than the usual commercial activities of the port. The landfills made in this section offered a location for the new industries related with the energy production sector. One example of this sort of settlements was the Central Tejo in Belém. This coal power plant started to be built in 1908[2] (Silva,1997). These sort of industries would remain in this part of the city until the 1940s (Costa, 2006), as we will later see.

During the first decades of the 20th century we see an increase in the maritime traffic of Lisbon. In several texts of the time we can find criticism to the development path of the port, mainly concerning the slow construction and some management issues (Silva, 1923). The construction of the first sector was not finished until 1926. During that time the existing infrastructure suffered few changes, including the transformation of the fluctuation dock into a “normal” one. In 1923 Silva complained about the delays in the completion of the works, the lack of new investment in machinery, the fact that the 2nd sector could not be used for real port activities, but only railway connection, leisure sailing or industrial areas. He also criticized that the 3rd sector was plan but never financed and the 4th section not even discussed.

Political Context

The first quarter of the 20th century was a period of political instability in Portugal. This situation did not contributed to the conclusion of the first port project and the development of the other sections. The increasing tension culminated in the assassination of the king D. Carlos I and his son and successor in the throne D. Luis Filipe in 1908. On October the 5th of 1910 the 1st democratic republic of Portugal was declared. During the following years the new regime was as well characterized by a very instable democracy with many changes in government. Finally in 1926 a coup d’état ended the democratic republic and started the military dictatorship. From 1928 to 1933 the regime evolved to become the “Estado Novo”, being António de Oliveira Salazar the key figure. First invited to the government of 1928 to be the minister of finance, gradually increased his influence until he became the president of the board of ministers in 1933, establishing the authoritarian regime that would rule Portugal until the revolution of 1974 (Saraiva, 1996) .

First decades of the 20th century.

In 1907 when the state regained control of the new port the infrastructure consisted in seven docks, with the correspondent technical apparel, a territory including 3500 m of ramps and embankments, 4700 m of piers, two dry docks, and over 14 000 m2 of warehouse space (AGPL, 1938). According to some texts of the time, during the following decades less construction was done, the interventions were mainlythe two new ship repair docks, more storage space and the conclusion of the pier of Santos.

The image of the port as it is known nowadays, started to be forged during this time (Costa, 2006). The separation between the city and the port became stronger and the difference of scale reduced the interaction between the citizens and the port.

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The political climate during the 1910s and early 1920s affected as well the port development. Until the new regime gained power and a certain stability was found, there were not many relevant constructions. During the late 1920s and 1930s the new government pushed further port development. The third section, planned in the competition, and already designed in 1916, was finally under construction. The dry docks 3 and 4 for naval repair were built, and the Alcântara and Santos docks were also rebuilt[3]. The construction quality of the first section of the port was far from ideal and different reinforcement works were necessary in the following years after its opening (ibid.) (Silva, 1923).

During this time other relevant infrastructures were built on the land side. The new buildings were designed with the predominant style of the time, the Português Suave[4] (Fernandes, 2003). This architectural expression, very valued by the regime, was chosen for many public constructions of the time. This style was related with the international movement known as rationalism, mainly used other countries with fascist dictatorships. This architectural language was used by the regime as propaganda to communicate their ideals, emphasizing the national identity. As result several relevant port buildings were constructed with this style, particularly the ones that hosted functions related with the public or that had a prominent location in the port-city interface.

The maritime stations

The passenger traffic, both regional and international, was quite relevant for the port of Lisbon. In 1937 more than 350 000 persons arrived or departed from Lisbon by boat (Brito et al. 2007). Three maritime stations were planned during the 1930s, but only two were finally built during the next decade. The maritime stations of Alcântara and Rocha Conde d’Óbidos are two examples of the mentioned architectural style and had an important role in the city´s structure, being the doors to Lisbon for the foreign passengers. Both buildings were designed by Pardal Monteiro, an important architect of the 20th century in Portugal, and the one in Alcântara included murals by AlmadaNegreiros, increasing their artistic value. The first one was inaugurated in 1943 and the second one was built between 1945 and 1948 (Gama, 1997). These stations remained the main connection with foreign countries until the construction of the airport. Afterwards were used mainly to welcome cruise ships.

To respond to the increasing traffic of people crossing the river from north to south several stations dedicated to the passenger fluvial traffic were planned. The first one was the south-southeast stations next to Praça do Comércio, by Cottinelli e Telmo in the late 1920s (ibid.). Several years later, inaugurated in 1940, another one in Belém was built. In this case the project was by Caetano de Carvalho, in the same style the stations from Rocha Conde d’Óbidos and Alcântara would be built in the same decade. This terminal was linked with the railway station in Belém, and also played an important role in the Exhibition of the same year that we will later explain (ibis.)

Fluvial station of Belém, built in 1940 for the Portuguese Expo. Arch. Caetano de Carvalho

Another interesting building was the refrigerated warehouse for cod fish, placed next to the rail line and the Av. 24 de Julho. This construction of large proportions had a strong visual impact due to its proportions and the architectural language including, a bas-relief with national heroes. We can see in the architectural expression or texts of the time that the port was still a an important element of civic pride was.

“(…) O que seríamos se esta esteira maritima nos nãos facultasse o precioso acesso ao Oceano e daí para todos os mares?O que seríamos sem este rio que preparous para os mares traiçoeiros os primeiros navegadores? A importância cital de Lisboa, não só para os portuguese como para o estrangeiro, é de tal modo, que a Europa  não teria outra entrada fluvial para o comércio africano e americano se este pôrto não fosse como é.”

Sanches(216: 1944)

In the same decade a relevant change regarding the jurisdiction of the Port of Lisbon took place. The AGPL gained control over the entire Tagus estuary, including the south side, from Alcochete until the bar of Lisbon (AGPL, 1938). This decision should facilitate the expansion of the port and port related industries to the south side. The possibility of moving certain activities to the other bank of the Tagus nurturedthe idea of releasing some sections of the waterfront in the north side to public use, regaining an access to the water for the inhabitants[5]. Several authors discussed this issue, particularly in the section between Cais do Sodré and the Customs, that included the Praça do Comércio[6] (Cid de Perestelo, 1938). In this same sector was the navy arsenal, one of the possible activities to be relocated to the south side, as eventually did happen.

“esta zona marginal debe ser aproveitada pelo municipaio para a construção de um jardim miradouro sobre o tejo, para o embelezamento da cidade e o gozo dos Lisboetas, visto os armazens do porto terem ocupado os antigos passeios marginais.”

Curado in O porto de Lisboa. Ideias e Factos (1928)

The expansion of the port towards the east in the third section included the construction of another 910 m of quays, 3830 m of stone slopes, 46 000 m2 of quayside area, a new dock, and 800 000 m2 of usable surface (Cid de Perestelo, 1938). The third section allowed as well the expansion of large industries in the east, later on enabling the transfer of the gas factory from Belém to Matinha, and the creation of the new avenue parallel to the river, Av. Infante D. Henrique.

During the 1930s and 1940s , once the regime had achieved a certain economic stability, the law for the economic recovery (Lei de Reconstituição Económica nº1914) was passed, planning the expenses for the following 15 years in the key infrastructure (Saraiva, 1993). The port received considerable investment for machinery and at the same time the different activities started to be more segregated. The development of the eastern section facilitated the settlement of larger industrial conglomerates in this area of the city, gradually releasing the western area, mainly Belém, from these activities. This way the urban programs existing in this section were enhanced, leaving this area with a representative function, related with its historical meaning and political connection (Costa, 2006).

If the first decades of the 20th century there were few planning initiatives regarding the port and the city. However, during the 1930s and 1940s, we could see several new plans that would affect the development of the waterfront. The first major urban intervention was the 1940 Expo, that implied the regeneration of the area adjacent to several national monuments such as the Jerónimos monastery and the Torre de Belém, the ex-libris of the city, that since the end of the 19th century until that decade had been surrounded by heavy industrial facilities diminishing its visibility and impact. At the same time, during the1940s, the first Masterplan for the city was being discussed. For this new document international experts were consulted to improve the existing urban environment and to organize the expansion of the city. Simultaneously, between 1943 and 1946, the port of Lisbon expansion plan was prepared. This document would set the path for the port development during the following decades. Also during this period the ZIP (Zona Industrial do Porto – Industrial Zone of the Port) was presented. We will discuss these different document and interventions in the following lines.

Major waterfront interventions in Lisbon during the 1930s and 1940s.

At the end of the 1930s and during the 1940s three key projects affecting the waterfront of Lisbon took place: the move of some industrial facilities from Belém to the eastern area of the city, the conclusion of the Tagus avenue in front of the Praça do Comércio, eased by the new location of the navy yard in the south side of the Tagus, and the Expo of the Portuguese World in Belém. These interventions had a significant impact in the image of the waterfront and would remain as the main projects on the by the riverside until the 1980s when the issue of the relation with the Tagus would be brought back to discussion.

Relocation of the energy industries from Belém to Matinha.

Before we have seen how, during the 1930s and 1940s, the third section of the port plan started to be develop. This area was already an important industrial core, that had grown linked with other structural element of the territory, the railway. The junction of both infrastructures potentiated development of larger industrial facilities in this area (Costa, 2006).The possibility of new industries eased a certain separation of activities on the waterfront, leaving the western section for leisure, culture and other urban activities. In 1937 the Ministry of public works issued an official statement in which insisted in the idea of releasing the area adjacent to the tower of Belém from the industrial facilities. The relocation of the CRGE (CompanhiasReunidas de Gás e Electricidade) gas factory from the west side of Lisbon, where it had existed since 1888, to Matinha, in the eastern section of the city, had been previously decided in 1935 with the law  25.726. This bill stated the need to move the industry and to regularized the edge of the river in the oriental section of the city, improving the connectivity of this area (Folgado, 2015).

Gas Factory of Belém in 1938. Photo by Kurt Pinto. Arquivo Municipal Doc: PT/AMLSB/KPI/000238

Finally the change only took place in 1944 (Costa 2006). The issue of the location of heavy industries next to this important landmark had been subject of controversy, criticism and public discussion since the end of the 19th century[7]. Not been even clear what was the need of such a facility in this place considering that there were others providing the same service (Ramos, 2004). In 1910 the tower received the status of national monument. The change here described was one of the firsts concerning the new uses and the programs to be implemented in the west part of the city. During the following decades the transfer of industries from west to east continued, accentuating the different roles of each part of the city (ibid.)

East-West connection on the waterfront

In the central section of the waterfront, from Cais do Sodré to the customs –  placed in the eastern section of the Praça do Comércio – the landfills proposed in different plans were never executed. The main issue in this area was the connection from the east to the west part of the city. The plans presented during the second half of the 19th century often included a railway or a road in front of the square. In the previous article it was clear that this issue was particularly complex. The historical meaning of the place, named by described by Costa (2006) as representative pier, and the difficulties caused by the presence of the navy yard delayed an intervention until the late 1930s.

Finally, the new location for the navy was decided during this decade, the facilities would be relocated to the south bank, in Alfeite, next to Seixal. The long awaited connection was, after several decades, technically possible. Although in previous plans a railway linehad also been discussed, the final solution was the construction of a road. The new avenue, executed in 1939, connected the two railway stations, from Cais do Sodré until the Sta. Apolónia. Linking in this point with the newly planned Av. Infante D.Henrique. The new road was possible due to the development of new landfills, until that moment the buildings were literally on the edge of the river.

Bird’s eye view of the central section of the waterfront of Lisbon, short after the construction of the landfill that would allow the completion of the road connecting the east with the west.

In the late 1940s a new plan for this area that was made, but never developed. In 1947 a design by Faria da Costa was released. In the project it was planned a regeneration of the area previously occupied by the shipyard, the redevelopment of Cais do Sodré, including a maritime station next to the railway one, and a tunnel connection to Restauradores Square. This intervention planned the creation of new monumental square in Cais do Sodré with two new 14 floors buildings, where the AGPL headquarters were supposed to be located (Pedras, 2014). In the drawing we can also see how the Tagus edge would be rethought, including new public spaces next to the water.

Plan for the connection between the Av. 24 de Julho and Praça do Comércio. Arch. Faria da Costa. Arquivo Municipal: Doc. PT/AMLSB/CMLSB/UROB-PU/10/174

Although the development of the landfills along the entire waterfront damaged the relation with the river, they allowed the construction of a more efficient connection between the two extremes of the city, including the incipient public transport (Costa, 2006). At the same time, the East-West axis, running parallel to the river, consolidated the barrier of traffic and infrastructure between the river and the city.

As we saw in the previous article the Tagus avenue was an old ambition of some port and urban planners. Several times projects with a certain grandiosity were dreamt. The riverside road was eventually completed, connecting the eastern section of the city with Algés in the western boundary, but with less impact than what it was conceptualized (Barata, 2010). The main concern remained the efficiency as a key element of the road network of the Portuguese capital.

The issue of crossing the downtown, the Baixa, has remained one of the biggest challenges until today. The construction of underground connections has been discussed several occasions during the last 50 years, but the road intervention of 1939 has remained has the main east-west axis on the waterfront.

1940 Portuguese world Expo

The new regime of the Estado Novo had been in power since 1928. During this time there was a certain quest to praise the national pride. The history brought an opportunity to uplift the Portuguese spirit, since in 1940 there would be the possibility of celebrating a double anniversary. In 1140 D. Afonso Henriques was recognized as the King of Portugal, remaining this year as the official date for the foundation of the country. In 1640 Portugal regained its independence from Spain (Saraiva, 1996). At the same time there was the goal of establishing Lisbon as the capital of the empire (França, 1997). The colonies still played an important role in the political and social debate, it seemed necessary to have a metropolis that would represent the grandiosity of the overseas territories.

Plan of the 1940 Exhibition of the Portuguese World

In 1932 the first discussions regarding the celebration of an international expo began to take place, but only in 1938 an official statement regarding the approval of the “Celebration of the Centenary of the Nationality” was published (Costa, 2015). The original idea was to create facilities that later would remain and be practical for the city. However, the tight deadline and the delay in the decision making process obliged to build temporary pavilions that later would be dismantled. Only in 1939 the final model of the expo was shown to the head of state, Salazar, leaving one year for the construction of the facilities (Acciaiuoli, 1998).

Panoramic view of the construction site of the 1940 Expo in Belém. From Estudio Horacio Novais (1939 – 1940)

The location of the exhibition, in the western part of town, was clear since the beginning, being the only doubt if it would be in the landfill in front of the Junqueira, where the Cordoaria is, or if it was better in the land in front of the Jerónimos monastery. Finally the greater historical meaning of the second prevailed, playing the monastery a key role in the planning and image of the event (Nobre, 2010). In this location the plan for the Expo used an area of 45 Ha to implement its program[8] (ibid.). It was seen by the masterminds behind the project, mainly the Cotinelli e Telmo and the mayor and minister of public works Duarte Pacheco[9] (França, 1980), as the opportunity to reconnect the historic monastery with the river with square of great proportions. The intervention changed the scale and perception of Belém, bringing a new sense of monumentality contrasting with the previous smaller dimension of the popular architecture (ibid).This location was the first place along the Tagus where a new kind of relation with the river was established.

Panorama of the imperial square, the central space around which the 1940 Expo was organized. we see the predominant urban role of the Jeronimo’s Monastery. Image from Arquivo Municipal de Lisboa, http://www.padraodosdescobrimentos.pt/pt/?galeria=1940

The exhibition, which opened its doors on June the 23rd of 1940, was organized around the main square (Praça do Império) with clear boundaries. There were pavilions dedicated to different topics, from the former colonies and overseas territories or invited countries, to the national history, the traditional culture and the newest developments in the railway and the port. In the exhibition there was a conjunction of different architectural styles that somehow expressed the duality of the regime´s image. On one side there was the intention of establishing an imperial character, in line with how other fascist regimes were doing in Europe, but at the same time there was a certain exaltation of the popular/vernacular architecture from the traditional village, as the source of the Portuguese values. This dichotomy was visible comparing some of the main pavilions with the reconstruction of a Portuguese village as part of the exhibition. Ironically one of the main critics to the event, at the time and still nowadays, was the fact that to release the land necessary for the new construction and the imperial square a considerable amount of demolitions were required. The buildings that were destroyed were a part of the traditional urban fabric of Belém (Nobre, 2010). Another replica that became one of the highlights of the exhibition was the “Portugal” ship, an imitation from a 16th century galley. The boat was docked in the Belém dock during the exhibition. (Acciauli, 1998).

Jeronimos Monatery before the 1940 Expo. We can see part of the former urban fabric that was demolished for the Exhibition.

One of the main intervention that improved the connection with the water were the new crossings of the barrier that separated the river from the city. These bridges had as well a predominant role in the image of the event. They functioned as the east and west gates of the Expo. Another project with the same goal was the pedestrian tunnel placed near the dock of Belém. By the river, next to the new tunnel and symmetrical to the dock, a water mirror with a restaurant was built, giving the impression that the river was nearer to the city in that point. This restaurant, along with the museum of ethnography, has been one of the few remaining buildings of the exhibition. They were adapted to be used after the exhibition.

Panoramic view of Belém during the 1940 Exhibition. Photo taken from the top of Padrão dos Descobrimentos. In the image we see two building that were refurbished after the Expo and are still in use nowdays

One of the most remarkable projects was the “Padrão dos Descobrimentos”, a monument to honor the memory of the great explorers. This sculpture of considerable size, 50m high and 695 m2 of surface, was originally built to be dismantled after the exhibition, but since it was a significant success it was afterwards rebuilt, (re)inaugurated 1960 (Acciaiuoli, 1998). The location of the statue, directly on the river edge, between the dock of Belém and the aforementioned water mirror, is, in the opinion of the author, a key decision in the relation of the city with the water. The river edge is no longer just for industrial or port activities, but can be used for cultural programs or artistic interventions. Also the presence of the new monument created a new language, following the example of the tower of Belém, vertical elements with considerable proportions, placed by the river, giving a certain visual rhythm to the waterfront, particularly in the western section.

Padrão dos decobrimentos. Exposição do Mundo Português, 1940 – António Passaporte. Arquivo Municipal. http://www.padraodosdescobrimentos.pt/pt/?galeria=1940

In terms of architecture the exhibition was considered a success. Under the direction of Cottinelli e Telmo several pavilions were exercises of creativity and helped to expereiment with aforementioned national style. Some of the architects and artists that participated in the event were: Cristino da Silva,Carlos Buigas, Lacerda Marques, Antonio Lino or Antonio Duarte, just to mention few of them.

The Expo did not attracted the number of visitors it was expected[10]. However, the event did helped the local and national governments to implement a series of large projects inLisbon, crucial for the development of the capital (Pedras, 2014). In the local scale the Av. da India became an important  axis due to the connection with the Av. 24 de Julho and Marginal (Nobre, 2010). Some other examples are the road network connections to Cascais, both the riverside road and the highway, the national stadium in Jamor, the park of Monsanto, the airport, and the maritime stations above mentioned, that were aimed to receive the international guests of the exhibition. Many of these projects were only finished during the next decades.

During this decade the waterfront suffered significant changes. The project of the Portuguese Expo was in some aspects a predecessor of what would happen in the post-industrial port-cities (Costa, 2006). This operation was the most successful cooperation between the Municipality and the ministry of public works, both lead by Pacheco, and also one of the key examples of the “New Lisbon – Capital of the Empire” (Elias, 132: 2013). Although Belém suffered important changes in its urban structure, there was the goal to leave “useful” facilities and there were plans for what would happen once the exhibition was over, after the event the area remained as an expectant space, without a clear program (ibid.).

Plano Director de Lisboa – Plano de Gröer

During the 1930s and 1940s the authorities of Lisbon Municipality were aware of the need to plan the expansion of the city and to transform it into a capital of the 20th century. The demographic growth was a significant challenge, the population grew from 486 000 in the 1920s to 709 000 in the 1940s (Pedras, 2014). During the first decades of the regime several international experts were consulted for the development of Lisbon. Forrestier in 1927 presented a plan for urban improvements which included several changes that eventually did took place, such as the relocation of the nay arsenal to the south bank of the Tagus or the connection of the Av. 24 de Julho with the Praca do Comércio (Barata, 2010). Later on, Donald Alfred Agache was as well called for the development of the Plano de Urbanizacao da Costa do Sol[11]. This internationally acclaimed planner would afterwards recommended Etienne de Gröer[12] for the development of the urban masterplan (André, 2015).

The year 1938 can be considered a turning point for the urban planning of the Portuguese capital (Silva, 1994) (Tostões, 2001). We have seen that in this year Duarte Pacheco, was elected mayor at the same time he kept his position as minister of public works. His direct connection with the government eased the flow of funds for the development of key projects in Lisbon. Besides the public financing new  juridical[13] and technical capacities were developed during this period (Brito et al. 2007). One of his decision was to give to de Gröer the responsibility of developing the PGUEL (Plano Geral de Urbanização e Extensão de Lisboa – General Plan for the Urbanization and Expansion of Lisbon). The plan started to be developed in 1938 but was only approved by the municipal assembly in 1948, already with a different name, the PDCL (Plano Director da Cidade de Lisboa). The document was never officially ratified by the central government, a mandatory step, but it guided the development of Lisbon during this time and the following years (Silva, 1994).

Plano Director de Urbanização de Lisboa. 1938 – 1948. Work led by Ètienne de Gröer. Retrieved from: http://www.cm-lisboa.pt/viver/urbanismo/planeamento-urbano/plano-diretor-municipal/enquadramento-do-pdm

One of the original goals of the plan when the process started in 1938 was to correct the urban development direction. De Gröer, as many others before him, believed to be a mistake to plan de growth of the city in opposite direction to the river, considering it the” main beauty element of Lisbon” (Silva, 15:1994 ). Forrestier had already defended this idea before, recovering the old aspiration of building an avenue by the Tagus. The new plan for Lisbon might have been influenced by the plan for the Sun Coast. This document enhanced the development of the capital towards the west, connecting with Estoril and Cascais. De Gröer implemented some of the concepts that had influenced his education, such as the principle of the Garden City, an anthropomorphic organization with strong zoning (Brito et al., 2007). The key ideas in the PDCL according to Silva (1994) were:

  • Create a radiocentrical road network
  • Organize decreasing population densities from the city center towards the periphery.
  • Create an industrial area in the eastern section of the city, lied with the port development.
  • Build a bridge crossing the river, linking Poço do Bispo with Montijo. Connected with one of the circular roads.
  • Build an international airport in the north area of the city.
  • Create a new monumental axis from the Av. Antonio Augusto Aguiar towards the road to Porto
  • Create a green ring around the city, from the new park of Monsanto to Loures until the river.

The two most relevant ideas for the port-city relation were the goal of reconnecting the city with the river and the development of industrial areas in the eastern part of town. The interaction with the port activities was not one of the main issues, the discussion around this topic was limited to the connection with the national infrastructural network. The main concerns of this time in the capital were the housing needs, planning the predicted expansion and establishing the main road network of the city (Silva, 1994). This plan would eventually have an important influence in the development of Lisbon and the documents that were developed after. It created the image of the city that we know today (França, 1997).

Port changes in the 1940s

During the 1940s several bills were published that structured the port development in the national and local context. In 1942, following the ideas of the de Gröer plan previously explained, the bill 19/10/1942 was approved, which stated that the eastern section of the city should host the bigger industrial facilities. This bill demanded new infrastructure from Poço do Bispo to Matinha first, and after until Beirolas, already in the limit of the city. Associated with this development several important industries were established, such as the Gas factory in Matinha, Oil refineries in Cabo Ruivo, the slaughterhouse of Lisbon, the milling of Lisbon and the factory and deposit of war material, all of them in Beirolas (Nabais & Ramos, 152, 1988). This industrial development of the eastern section of town was complemented on the south bank with the bigger autonomous industrial complexes, affecting the port economy and territory. They were the Quimigal in Barreiro and Lavradio, the Siderurgia Nacional (National steel plant) in Seixal, and the Lisnave shipyards of in Almada (Costa, 2006).

In 1944 the national government passed the law DL 33922 5/9/1944, responsible for the 2nd phase of the national port plan. The port of Lisbon was not included in this document since it was considered that it required a separate plan due to the size and complexity of the infrastructure. The “Plano de Melhoramentos do Porto de Lisboa”- Plan for improvements for the port of Lisbon, was approved on the 24th of June of 1946, with the bill DL 35716. This new document, besides setting the path for the port development, also assigned the necessary financing. The key works included in the plan, many of them related with the aforementioned industrial area, were: In the eastern section: the construction of new piers and dock in Poço do Bispo, new pier in Xabregas, regularization of the coastline between Matinha and Cabo Ruivo, and Cabo Ruivo and Beirolas, including the new dock of Olivais (destined to work as maritime airport). Also new warehouses and industrial facilities were planned, such as the refinery of Cabo Ruivo. In the western part, the main project was the dock of Pedrouços, dedicated to fishing activities, also known by the name of the managing society Docapesca. New landfills on sludge areas were also planned, with the goal of improving the general hygiene of the port and the city. On the south side the main intervention was the regularization of the coast line between Cacilhas and Alfeite (Nabais& Ramos, op. cit).

Plano de Melhoramentos do Porto de Lisboa, 1946.

Finally, in 1948 another relevant law was passed. In the 2nd article or the DL 36976 20/7/1948, the jurisdiction of the AGPL was updated and increased, including 110 km of riverbanks. The new boundaries were the bridge of Vila-França de Xira, on the east, and the line defined by the fortresses of S. Julião e Bugio on the west. This area included 50 km of river banks on the north side and 60 km on south. The area and river edge controlled by the AGPL had borders with 11 municipalities.

1940s – 1974

The period that goes from the late 1940s until the end of the regime, in 1974, was characterized by the implementation of national plans for the development of the country and the key infrastructure. These plan were also known as the “Planos de Fomento”. During this time three main plans and a partial one were prepared. The first one went from 1953 until 1958, the second from 1959 until 1964, then the intermediate plan, from 1965 until 1967 and finally the third development plan from 1968 until 1974. These documents set the path for the key investment in the main infrastructure and also influenced the urban development strategies (Silva, 1994).

The Port

The first development plan (1953 – 1958) was mainly focused in financing and completing the projects scheduled in the document from 1946, without major innovations. The second development plan (1959- 1964) was focused in general interventions to improve the conditions of the port and be able to host the bigger ships, mainly in the third section. In this plan the Docapesca in Pedrouços was one of the project that received more investment, mainly with new buildings and facilities for the fishing activities (Nabais, Ramos, 1987). The infrastructure for fluvial traffic, mainly the ferries, was also improved. In this second plan was also foreseen the change of use of the dock of Bom Sucesso, in Belém, from navy activities to nautical sports and leisure.

The strategic investment decided in these plans had a clear goal of gradually increase the industrial activity in the country. During the 1950s and 1960s we see how the municipalities next to Lisbon received financing to develop key infrastructure, easing the path for the private sector. During these decades the large industrial conglomerates in Lisbon metropolitan area, mainly in the south side of the Tagus as we have already seen, grew from a local/regional scale to compete in the Iberian market (Costa, 2006). The industrial facilities employ thousands of workers in activities related with the petrochemical sector, steel plants and shipyards.

Finally, during the 1970s, the port started to receive container traffic. This new type of cargo, in use since1950s, gradually gained more importance in the international logistic chains. The first terminal prepared to handle this kind of traffic was the one in Sta. Apolónia, adapted with the necessary technology since October 1970. This change opened a new phase in the history of the port activity and the relation between the port and the city (Nabais & Ramos, 1987).

Mas os efeitos da escala ainda tardam, pois a revolução da contentorização só se impõe no Porto de Lisboa, a partir de 1970. Esse é o momento da criação de uma autêntica barreira física na Lisboa ribeirinha, desde Cabo Ruivo àAlfândega.

Folgado & Custódio,1999

Only later, in 1985, the dock of Alcântara would be prepared to handle containers. This terminal was, and still is, operated by a private company named Liscont, working with a concession contract.

The urban development and plans from 1940s until 1970s

After the de Gröer document, and until the end of the regime, other two plans were prepared to tackle the urban development of Lisbon. Both of them used the previous plans as the base for their work, establishing a certain continuity with core ideas, but, at the same time introducing key changes that would shape the future of the Portuguese capital. Another common feature is the fact that both were approved in municipality, and guided the development of the city, but were either never or much later approved by the central government.

The plan published in 1959 (PDUL – Plano Director de Urbanização de Lisboa) was a revision from the one of 1948, with few new concepts and ideas. From an initial vision closer to the garden city in 1938,  it evolved to embrace the concepts defended in Athens Charter. One of the key changes was the relocation of the connection between Lisbon and the south side of the Tagus. Instead of placing it in the eastern sector of the city, it was planned between Alcântara and Almada. The bridge would eventually be built in this location, but only opening to the public in 1966. New road connections, including two urban highways, were also planned, enhancing the role of the car in the society.  This plan was led by Guimarães Lobato.

Aerial view of Lisbon in the 1960s, before the construction of the Salazar Bridge (later known as 25 de Abril)

The second plan started as revision of the previous one, led by George Meyer Heine, but eventually it became a new full plan, approved in 1967 by the municipality. This new document, also known as the PDUL, had to deal with the increasing traffic of vehicles and the evolution of the demographics. At the same time the new plan identified several issues related to the previous development. The radio-centrism was considered a problem, the delays in some key infrastructure was affecting the urban development of the city, and there was a deviation between the expected population in the existing plans and the real one. The recently inaugurated infrastructure, such as the subway system and the new bridge, required new strategies for the city. The plan proposed a new south-north highway, connecting the Salazar bridge (today known as bridge 25 de Abril) with the airport. A new monumental axis, like in previous plans, from Av. Da Liberdade, was also planned. The concept for distribution of population densities changed in comparison to the previous documents, from a model that defended a decrease from the center to the periphery, to establish an uniform distribution of the population. This plan was only approved by the national Government in 1977 with the ministerial ordinance n.º 274/77, of 19 of May.

In the map of the plans we can see that the port area is considered outside the boundaries of the municipal control. The AGPL (nowadays known as APL) was, and still is, a central government body, responsible for the management of a territory that belongs to the state, not the city. For this reason, the connection and interaction between both institutions, and also between the different plans, has been often limited to the connection nodes necessary for the infrastructure. In the last plans we see a more functionalist approach, where the relation with the river is not as important as it was previously considered. The debate about the interaction between the Tagus and Lisbon would only be recovered in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Both realities, city and port, regained a certain need to cooperate and to find a way to give to the city and citizens a new contact with the water.


The main goal of this research is to discover how the relation between the port and the city has worked in the context of Lisbon and it can be improved. It is widely accepted that to understand our present and plan our future it is necessary to comprehend the past, the path that has taken us to our current situation. In these three articles, the two written so far and the next one, we try to understand how have the port and the city evolved during the last 300 years. We have seen that the international models presented by other senior researchers are more or less accurate in Lisbon, although with slightly different timeline. We can also observe that in the history of this port-city, as in many others, the evolution is not lineal, but rather marked by long periods of stagnation interrupted by moments of intense activity. However, the evolutions does not stop. Since 1755 we have seen how a myriad of small piers evolved into a large industrial port. How in the process several alternatives for more balanced port – city – river – citizen alternatives were dismissed. We could identify the break up moments, the change from a local industry to international, the changes in the waterfront. In the process we have also seen how in the first transformation of the waterfront, the public space regained a lost central role, and how, at the same time, the segregation and intensification of port activities could have caused a certain sense of negligence in the areas of the city that hosted these activities. This last issue, particularly clear since the arrival of the container traffic, along with the infrastructural barrier could be one of the reasons causing the distancing between both realities.

In the following article we will see how the riverfront debate becomes once again a hot topic in the public realm. Since the 1980’s there have been several planning initiatives to recover the city – river relationship. But then, what role has the port played? What were the key concept of this rapprochement? The port remained as a barrier or became an active element of change? In the past decades there has been considerable research done related with this topic, from Master and PhD investigations to architectural and urban planning competition, even initiatives focused in the cultural value of the port and the river. We will see all these activities before we focus in the analysis of the current situation and we try to formulate possible solutions.


André, P. (2015). A CITY MADE OF CITIES Lisbon in the first half of the XX century: new Lisbon (1936) and Lisbon new (1948). Urbana, Cec. Unicamp, 7(10), 89–111.

Acciaiuoli, M. (1998). Exposições do Estado Novo 1934-1940. Lisbon: Livros Horizonte.

Barata, A. C. M. (2010). Lisboa “Caes da Europa”: realidades, desejos e ficções para a cidade (1860 – 1930). Lisboa: Edições Colibi – IHA/Estudos de Arte Contemporânea, FCSH – Universidade Nova de Lisboa.

Brito, V., & Camarinhas, C. (2007). Elementos para o estudo do Plano de Urbanização da Cidade Lisboa. Cadernos Do Arquivo Municipal de Lisboa, 164–189.

Costa, J. P. (2006). La ribera entre proyectos : formación y transformación del territorio portuario, a partir del caso de Lisboa. Barcelona : Universidade de Catalunha.

Costa, J. P. (2007). A renovação urbana dos grandes complexos portuários do século XX: novos territórios, novas dinâmicas. Portus, (14), 4–7.

Costa, J. P. (2008). Cinco gerações de renovação urbana na ribeira de lisboa. Estuarium, 12–17.

Costa, S. V. (2015). Pensar Lisboa. A obra capital de Duarte Pacheco. Rossio – Estudos de Lisboa, (5), 84–97.

Curado, B. De P. (1928) O Porto de Lisboa. Ideia e factos.Livraria Rodrigues. Lisbon.

Elias, H. (2013). A monumentalização de Lisboa ocidental: arte pública e intervenções urbanas na frente ribeirinha de Belém. Rossio – Estudos de Lisboa, (2), 130–141.

Folgado, D., & Custódio, J. (1999). Caminho do Oríente – Guía do património industrial. (J. Sarmento de Matos, Ed.). Lisbon: Livros Horizonte.

Folgado, D. (2015). Lisboa industrial. Um caminho da e para a modernidade. Rossio – Estudos de Lisboa, (5), 98–109.

França, J. A. (1980). Lisboa: Urbanismo e Arquitectura (1a ed.). Lisbon: Instituto de Cultura e Língua Portuguesa Ministério da Educação e Ciência.

França, J. A. (1997). Lisboa: urbanismo e arquitectura (3rd ed.). Lisbon: Livros Horizonte.

Gama, E., & Miranda, I. (1997). Lisboa ribeirinha e as suas estações – síntese histórica. In A. Caessa & M. G. Martins (Eds.), Actas das sessões do II Colóquio temético Lisboa Ribeirinha (pp. 201–224). Lisboa: Câmara Municipal de Lisboa – Departamento de Parimonio Cultural Divisão de Arquivos.

Lobo, L. M. (1976). Porto de Lisboa (1963-1974). AGPL. Lisbon.

Mangorrinha, J. (1999). Papéis de(o) Arquitecto na intervenção municipal urbana: notas sobre projectar Lisboa no século XX. Cadernos Do Arquivo Municipal, 1(3), 216–229.

Matias, R. (Ed.) (1961)O porto de Lisboa , in: Portugal de Hoje(1). Eco. Lisbon.

Nabais, A. J. C. M., & Ramos, P. O. (1985). Porto de Lisboa: Subsidios para o estudo das obras, equipamentos e embarcações na perspectiva da arqueologia Industrial. AGPL – Administração Geral do Porto de Lisboa. Lisbon.

Nabais, A. J. C. M., & Ramos, P. O. (1987). 100 anos do porto de Lisboa. Lisboa: Administração do Porto de Lisboa.

Nabais, A. J. C. M., & Ramos, P. O. (1991).Referências Históricas do Porto de Lisboa. Administração do Porto de Lisboa. Lisbon.

Nabais, A. J. C. M., & Ramos, P. O. (199x?). Roteiro das fontes da História do Porto de Lisboa. Administração do Porto de Lisboa. Lisbon

Nobre, P. A. (2010). Belém ea Exposição Do Mundo Português: Cidade, Urbanidade e Património Urbano. Universidade Nova de Lisboa.

Pedras, M. R. (2014). Uma Capital para o Império: a Lisboa sonhada do Estado Novo. Rossio – Estudos de Lisboa, (4), 198–215.

Perestelo, A. M. C. (1938) in Cinquentenario da inauguração das obras da1ª secção do Porto de Lisboa, feita em 31de outubro de 1887. Discursos proferidos na sessão solene de 30 de outubro, presidida por S. Exª o Presidente da República, Sr. General Antonio Oscar de Fragoso Carmona. Administração Geral do Porto de Lisboa. Lisboa, Imprensa Nacional. Lisbon.

Ramos, P. O. (1992). Lisbon’s Historic Waterfront. Industriekultur Und Arbeitswelt an Der Wasserkante – Zum Umgang Mit Zeugnissen Der Hafen- Und Schiffahrtsgeschichte / Industrial Culture and Industrial Work in Coastal Areas – How to Handle the Heritage of Port and Shipping History, Arbeitshefte Zur Denkm, (11), 41–45.

Ramos, P. O. (2004). A Torre de Belém e a Fábrica do Gás – Contra o gasómetro, marchar, marchar. Pedra & Cal, (21), 12–14.

Ribeiro, O. (1987). A formação de Portugal. Lisbon: Instituto de Cultura e Língua Portuguesa Ministério da Educação.

Sanches, J. D. (1944). O porto de Lisboa através dos séculos. Lisbon.

Saraiva, J. H. (1993). História de Portugal. (F. L. de Castro, Ed.). Mem Martins: Publicações Europa-América.

Silva, J. J. C. (1923). Desorganização do trabalho no porto deLisboa e as suas consequências no custo da vida. (Tese apresentada ao congresso das associações comerciais e industriais portuguesas reunido em Lisboa e Novembro de 1923). Tip. da Emprêsa Diário de Noticias. Lisbon.

Silva, C. N. (1994). Política Urbana em Lisboa, 1926-1974. Lisbon: Livros Horizonte.

Silva, F. M. da. (1997). Tempos difíceis: a Central tejo e a cidade de Lisboa nos anos trinta e durante a II Guerra. In A. Caessa & M. Gomes Martins (Eds.), Actas das sessões do II Colóquio temático Lisboa Ribeirinha (pp. 353–361). Lisbon: Câmara Municipal de Lisboa – Departamento de Parimonio Cultural Divisão de Arquivos.

Sousa, A. A. De (1926). Le Port de Lisbonne. Commission Administrative du Port de Lisbonne. Biblioteca Nacional de Lisboa – Betrand. Lisbon

Tostões, A. (2001). O bairro de Alvalade no quadro do desenvolvimento urbano de Lisboa. In M. H. Barreiros (Ed.), Lisboa, conhecer, pensar, fazer cidade (pp. 64–71). Lisbon: Câmara Municipal de Lisboa – Direcção Municipal de Urbanismo – Departamento de Informação Urbana

Official Documents:

AGPL (1913?). The Port of Lisbon.

AGPL – Organização do serviço de Publicidade e Turismo (1958). Imagens do Porto de Lisboa. Lisbon

Ministério das Comunicações.  (1943). Planos de arranjo e expansão. (Decreto.lei nº 32842). Imprensa Nacional. Lisbon.

Ministério das Comunicações. (1948). Plano de Melhoramentos do Porto de Lisboa.Tipografia Portuguesa, Lda.Lisbon


[1]The new organization was a significant innovation in the port management models existing at the time. The port of Lisbon was the first one to have this kind of structure, discussed for the first time in the 10thinternational Maritime Congress in Milan in 1905. The board included a president named directly by the government, the director of the customs in Lisbon, an engineer as chief of exploration, the chief of the central maritime department and representatives from the railway companies, the shipping sector, and the commerce. (Perestelo, 1938)

[2] The power plant “Central Tejo”, was built to provide electricity to the city and the Lisbon-Cascais railway line. There were several expansions during the following years, in some cases even adding an entire new building, like it happened in 1939 (Silva, 1997). It remained in operation until 1968 (Ramos, 1992). Several years it was deactivated it was refurbished to accommodate the electricity museum and to work as a temporary exhibition hall. The new function was implemented in 1990s,being included in what can be considered the Belém museum axis. To this axis belong as well other cultural facilities such as the CCB, the Cordoaria or the Museum of carriages.

[3] In 1919 the wall of the dock of Alcântara crawled requiring repair. For this reason reinforcement interventions were necessary. Several authors indicate that the low quality of the construction of the piers was due to the short exploration contract given to the contractor, Hersent. This issue could have forced him to build excessively fast and cheap to have a return of his investment, instead of what could have happened if the contract would have been made for a longer period allowing him to build with higher quality standards and recover his investment in a longer period.

[4]We can find buildings from the beginning of the century in Portugal designed in modernist style, such as the fluvial station from Cottinelli e Telmo. Gradually the architects started to develop the Português Suave language, very valued by the regime .This style has been studied by several serearchers in Portugal. For example it was descibed by Pedras(2015) as it follows: (…) caracterizava-se pela reaproximação a uma estética joanina, com elementos característicos como as varandas do andar nobre, as linhas austeras, a monumentalidade das entradas, os telhados em mansarda e a simetria sóbria e regular que marcava toda a edificação.

[5] During the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the construction of the port (1938), in the speech made by Prof. Eng. Afonso de Melo Cid de Perestelo, the layout of the port, occupying the entire waterfront was criticized. It was also suggested that the central section should be left for the city to “breathe” and have a contact with the water, insisting, once again in the creation of an avenue or boulevard in front of the location of the navy shipyard.

[6] In the book “Port de Lisbonne” the possibility of relocating the navy arsenal was very clear. This publication was published by the AGPL itself to promote the port of Lisbon. We can see that even the official stand was to ease the access to the river in specific locations, such as the Praça do Comércio.

[7] There are texts from different authors and intellectuals of the time referring this topic and criticizing the municipality that approved the construction of the industries close to the Tower, authors such as Castilho, Ramalho Ortigao or Bordalo Pinheiro. For more information check the article by Ramos “A Torre de Belém e a Fábrica do Gás – Contra o gasómetro, marchar, marchar”, published in 2004.

[8] As said by Nobre (2010) there are contradictory information about the territory occupied by the Exhibition. For example Costa (2006) indicates a territory of 56 Ha.

[9] Duarte Pacheco (1900 – 1943) was a key figure in the transformation of Lisbon and Portugal during the 1930s and 1940s. He would be the minister of education in 1928 and of public works from 1932 until 1935, and once again from 1938 until his death in November 1943. He became the mayor of Lisbon from 1938, keeping both position officially only for a few months. His influence in the city and the country was much broader than this period (Costa, 2015).

[10] Some authors state that, as often happens in authoritarian regimes, the official numbers were distorted and only the first and last days attracted a considerable number of visitors. (Accialiui, 1998)

[11]The “Plano de Urbanização da Costa do Sol” (Urbanization Plan for the Sun Coast) started to be developed by Agache in 1933. This plan was created for the development of the region between Lisbon and Cascais, being the road network one of the key elements. It was the first regional plan developed in Portugal. The project remained on hold until Duarte Pacheco, in 1938, became the mayor of Lisbon and Minister of Public Works. At this point the plan was resumed by De Gröer, at the same time he was working in the Plan for Lisbon. (Costa, 2015)

[12]Étienne De Gröer was hired by the municipality between 1938 and 1940, and once again between 1946 and 1948 (André, 2015)

[13]Particularly relevant was the new legislation that allowed an easier expropriation procedure when necessary. This favorable law allowed the municipality to become one of the main urban and real estate developers of the city. It was able to get 35% of the total development area until 1951 (Franca, 1997).One of the goals of Duarte Pacheco was to keep the right to urbanize exclusive for the public institutions, i.e. the municipality. (Brito et al. 2007)


Evolution of Lisbon’s waterfront: from the 1755 earthquake to the industrial port plan of 1887.

Evolution of Lisbon’s waterfront: from the 1755 earthquake to the industrial port plan of 1887.

The history of  Lisbon has been well studied and documented by many researchers, particularly from the national context. In fact we can even find a specific field in the social sciences dedicated to the study of the history, evolution and identity of the Portuguese capital, the “Olisipografia”, created by Júlio Castilho in the end of the 19th century (Silva 1994). The subject we intend to explain here has been analyzed by researchers from different disciplines, from urban history and planning, to sociology or anthropology, among others. However, to fully understand the current status of the port-city relation in the mentioned context it seemed necessary to look for the root of the possible conflict. The complexity of the problems here discussed requires knowing its origin, counting with the support of the vast bibliography dedicated to the topic.

When compared to other European port-cities Lisbon is relatively ancient. The first settlements in area of Lisbon go back to pre-historic times in the Tagus estuary and the city birth has been established in Phoenicians times. In this research we will focus in what can be considered modern and contemporary history (from the 18th to the 21st century). According to Hoyle’s model (1988,2002), and confirmed by different other authors, the first stage of the port-city relationship, when the port and the city can be considered a single reality,lasted until the arrival of the industrial revolution. The second stage, during the first industrial revolution, is when the first separation begins, this phase will be the focus of this article.

Different stages in the traditional port-city interface (Hoyle, 1998: 47) http://urban-e.aq.upm.es/articulos/ver/puerto-y-desarrollo-urbano-en-rotterdam-una-verdadera-historia-de-amor/completo?lang=1

In the majority of European port-cities we can see how the new scale and development, brought by new technologies, caused significant changes in their urban structure. The existing port infrastructure were no longer enough and there was the need of developing the first large port plans. In Lisbon this process can also be identified, although the time line and speed of the changes diverge from other European realities. The local context regarding the economic and political conditions caused several delays in the overall development process.

The 1755 Earthquake and its consequences in the port and city development

In the particular context of Lisbon we can identify a specific event that caused a shift in the urban expansion policies and could be the root of the first break up between the city and the port. As in any relation , traumatic events can cause a change in the status quo and the further development of the interaction. In the case of the Portuguese capital this occurred in the 1st of November of 1755, when anearthquake of 8,75 degrees in the Richterscaletook place, with its epicenter in the ocean,200 km away from the southwest Portuguese coast (Baptista et. al 2006). The seism was accompanied by other calamities, a fire of great proportions that lasted several days and a tsunami that stroke the city 40 minutes after the quake. This natural disaster caused significant destruction and casualties, particularly among the low classes[1]. The most affected area of the city was the “Baixa”, the downtown placed in a valley that in prehistoric times used to be a gully. This natural disaster seriously affected as well other parts of the country and conditioned the investing capacity of the city and the nation. The effects of this natural disaster reached epic proportions, being its consequences magnified all along the European continent, mainly due to the religious and philosophical meaning that it was attributed by some of the leading intellectuals of the time[2]. The date when it occurred, the All Saints day, and the Enlightenment era nurtured major discussion about the causes and consequences of the earthquake.

planta tinoco modificada
Plan from J.P. Tinoco, from 1650. We can see the urban structure before the earthquake.

After the seism the majority of the efforts and resources were directed to the reconstruction of the capital. During this time a major historic and political figure of Portugal rose, Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, mainly known as the Marquês de Pombal. This minister was in charge of the rebuilding process, organizing the competition and coordinating the allocation of the financing. The course of the reconstruction has been one of the main research topic in the fields of urban planning and architecture in Portugal. Here we will only focus on some of the main characteristics that could be relevant to the aftermath in the following centuries to the port-city relation.

In terms of urban planning we can see how the new concepts of the discipline of that time were very present in the reconstruction. The different proposals presented included a regular grid of rectangular city blocks, including as well a certain standardization in architecture[3]. This design principles created an urban tissue with completely different proportions when compared with the previous medieval urban structure, still present in the resilient section of the city, in the Alfama and Castello hill. The hygiene concerns, an important issue of the time, forced a regular structure that granted better ventilation, sun light and easier access. The winning proposal, developed by Manuel da Maia, Eugénio dos Santos, Carlos Mardel  and Sebastian Poppe, respected two key urban spaces from the preexistence. The plan included two squares in the same location where we could have found them before the earthquake.  O Rossio in the north boundary of the project and Praça do Comércio as the main square by the river, where previously we could find the Terreiro do Paço[4].

Reconstruction plan for the Baixa. Plan developed by Manuel da Maia, Eugénio dos Santos and Carlos Mardel. In yellow the new urban structure, in red the former blocks. 18th century

In the new Baixa we could also find another characteristic revealing the political and social changes taking place during this time. In the new city structure we could see how the role of the church changed and new public building would be built in some of the most representative locations, such as the D. Maria Theater closing the Rossio square. In Praça do Comércio we would also see that the civil programs occupied the key spaces. This change is also relevant for the urban development and the relation with the waterfront since, as we will see, many convents placed in Lisbon and its outskirts were secularized. Some of these buildings, that for many years developed farming activities, in many cases placed on the riverside, would change to industrial uses, being the first facilities of this kind along the waterfront. The new industrial activities often required the creation of small docks and piers, forming a panoply of small port areas before the great port plan was even discussed (Nabais & Ramos, 1987)[5].

The general layout of the plan has one particular characteristic that has been seen by different authors as one of the key moments for the mutation in the relation between the city and the river. When deciding the reconstruction of the destroyed neighborhoods can be seen in the plans that the concern of a new earthquake and tsunami was present. In the paintings of that time we can see that the effect of the wave in the city was catastrophic, the powerful image caused several changes in the planning concepts. The royal palace was moved from the waterfront to Ajuda, one of the hills in the outskirts of Lisbon. Another relevant change was that in the reconstruction plans, the direction towards the North was preferred, opposing what until then had been the normal urban development orientation, along the river following an East-West axis (Silva, 1994, 2001). This change, visible in the layout of the blocks,was crucial for the development of the city until today. The chosen South-North axis would determine the direction of the city in the following decades and centuries, as we will later see. Initially the  plan ended in Rossio square, but later, by the end of the 19th century, the municipal government decided to follow this axis, developing important projects, such as the Passeio Público. This public spacewas replaced in the end of the 19th Century by the Avenida da Liberdade, indicating direction for the future development of Lisbon towards the north.

Landfill and Port plans developed until the end of the 19th Century

The process of cleaning the debris caused by the earthquake lasted until the 19th century (França, 1997)and the plan was not completed until 1873 with the conclusion of the arch above the Augusta street connecting with the Praça do Comércio. Simultaneously, the regularization of the river bank was being discussed. Several planning initiatives were developed before the earthquake and many others after,when the reconstruction process was well advanced and the political climate allowed it.

Several authors have identified the first initiatives dating back to the 1720s and 1730s, during the reign of D. João V. These first two plans were mostly focused in regularizing the waterfront, since in different locations private initiatives had already started to gain land to the river. Another goal was to solve the hygiene issues affecting the city. In different references we can find information from travelers from the 18th century that highlighted the powerful image of Lisbon one could have when arriving from the river, but how it would also vanish immediately when touching land. The health problem was considered one of the main concerns, particularly on the waterfront, in the neighborhood of Boavista, where a considerable amount of dejects would end up. The area was even considered at a certain moment to be one of the yellow fever disease outbreaks in 1857 (Silva).

The last plan presented before the earthquake was designed by Carlos Mardel. The publication date of the plan it is not certain, however most authors indicate that it was probably done in 1750. This document was the first one that include a proposal for the complete “urban” waterfront. The main intervention would be the regularization of the border, including a riverside promenade, and the creation of a major military shipyard, replacing and improving the existing one near the Praça do Comércio.

Port development plan by Carlos Mardel. Ca. 1750 Retrieved from Centro de Documentacao Porto de Lisboa.

The period described above can be considered pre-industrial in the particular context of Lisbon. The first vapor powered boat would only arrive in the 1820s and the first railway line would only be built in the 1850s. However, it would only cause significant changes once the key connections were established, in the mid-1860s and mostly during the last decades of the century[6]. This infrastructure and the use of new machinery are considered crucial to the development of the industrial society. The change in the productive model would arrive later to Portugal than to other European countries. For this reason only from the 1840s onwards would we see the first proposals for the development of general plans for Lisbon’s port. Thisissue, the creation of a world class port through the use of landfills to compete in the international markets and regain a lost political status, was being constantly discussed. The intense debate it is clear if we consider that during this period more than thirty different proposals were presented until the final project started to be developed in 1887[7]. At the same time while the discussion regarding the port plan was starting to emerge, the firstplanned large landfill was being developed[8].

Boavista Landfill

The area of Boavista, between what is nowadays known as Cais do Sodré and Santos, was where some of the first industries of Lisbon were developed. During the late 18th and early 19th century several factories and small shipyards where here created. The occupation of this land was made without proper planning, characterized by narrow and deep plots, that tried to keep the contacts with the river in order to use it for transport and communication, creating different docks and piers, as we have already seen.

The mentioned health issue was one of the main concerns of the local government, but there were also other issues to be addressed. Another goal was to reorganize the area following a more logical scheme, following examples of other urban contemporary projects. At the time the goal was, as well, the embellishment of the area, since it was a location near the centers of power of the capital. This was a general concern regarding the entire city but particularly sensible in this district, also due to its potential connection with the river, where a “riverside boulevard” could had been developed, a dream that will be present in several plans that we will later see.

Aterro da Boavista, Extracto da Planta fo Filipe Folque. 19th Century

In 1858 the project started, led by the local engineer José Vitorino Damázio, and financed by the central government. One year later in 1859 the CML (Câmara Municipal de Lisboa – City hall) took over, although for the final stage of the construction they required financial support from the central government.

The goal of regularizing the urban structure remained unfulfilled, partly due to the constant conflict with the landowners and the ownership of the new territory. Finally the plots remained with the same proportions but a middle street dividing them in half was implemented.

The construction was finished in 1865 and the final result of the project included the opening of the 24th of July street, later Avenue. This new road would become an important development axis, although it did not reached the importance it was planned to. The project later led to the development of new public spaces, such as the D.Luís I square, nowadays popularly known as the Cais do Sodré.

The local inhabitants of all classes welcomed the new space by river, which included a public area next to the water where the people could see the Tagus, as Castilho remind us in his book:

“já Lisboa toda, desde 1867, se costumara com gosto ao deasafogado terreiro marginal. (…) Havia tardes, na primavera, e no outono, em que a sociedade concorria ali, aquele salão enorme, a ver o Tejo, que é amigo de nós todos, e a contemplar as magnificiências com que o sol de despedia. Desde a Rainha, a senhora D. Maria Pia, (…) até à humilde varina, e à pobre rapariginha operária, encontrava-se ali toda a gente passeando em certas tardes; e Lisboa, atónita de si mesma, confraternisava em primeira mão com o mar, que representava e representa as nossas melhores e mais firmes tradições.

Depois, anos depois, abriu-se a Avenida; e o Aterro… nem mais lembrou sequer.”

By the end of the century the development of the great port plan would separate the city from the river. The creation of the Cascais railway line in 1895 would establish a definitive barrier between this area and the river. Once again Castilho explains this situation in his work:

 “(…) o Lisboeta não veria comboios deslizando como sombrinhas entre ele e o seu querido Tejo, impossibilitando-lhe com cancelas quezilentissimas o trânsito livre com fumo, rumor, e perigos, a melhor coisa que ele tem: O passeio marginal.”

Industrial development along the river

The first industrial development that occurred in Lisbon was placed along the waterfront, in different locations. Previously, we have already mention that the industrial revolution arrived later to Portugal than to other European countries. However, it did took place, particularly from the mid-19th Century onwards, when the new technology was available, and, mostly, when the new transportation infrastructure, railway and port (shipping), offered new communications, increasing the scale of the industrial activity, allowing new ways of structuring the territory[9].

Initially the industrial activities were concentrated in the area of Boavista[10], where the aforementioned landfill took place. Short after, and following a set of specific geographic characteristics we could find new, and bigger industrial areas, in Xabregas, Alcântara and Belém. For these larger factories or power plants there were several main qualities determinant for the settlement of new activities. In the first place the land availability, once the scale of the industries started to grow it was necessary land to expand the facilities. As the century advanced this was only possible on the boundaries of the city or directly on the outskirts[11]. Another important element was the topography. Lisbon is known for its rugged geography, composed by several hills that did not eased the implementation of larger conglomerates or main infrastructure, as we will see it happened with the railway and the port. Finally the access to the river was a key element. In order to have an easy way to send or receive cargo or products a direct connection with the Tagus was crucial, since, at the time, it was the most efficient communication method.

Lisbon in the 19th Century. We can see the small piers on the Tagus and the waterfront before the landfills were built. Image from the book “Além da Baixa”. https://arteemtodaaparte.wordpress.cm

The industrial settlements above mentioned evolved following different paths. The cores of Alcântara and Xabregas maintained the secondary sector activities, the first one was linked with the port development and the second related with ever larger industrial conglomerates and power plants (Costa, 2006). In Belém the development, as we will see, evolution was otherwise, particularly in the transition to the 20th century.

The development of the railway connections enhanced the industrial identity of the first two mentioned areas. By the end of the century the three main lines (the north, Sintra and Cascais) were already active. Particularly relevant was the creation of the train connection between Alcântara and Xabregas, that linked the first large port areas with the heavy industrial facilities.

The evolution of the industry in Lisbon is particularly relevant for the development of the city-river relationship. By the end of the 18th century in the Tagus estuary we could find a myriad of small ports and piers, as Nabais & Ramos (1987) indicate, during the first half of the 19th century the situation would not change much, but the debate regarding the creation of one main port intensified. In an initial moment the proximity to the river was determinant for the settlement of industries. In a second stage the same industries had out grown the existing port facilities and demanded a larger port that could suit their logistic interests (Custódio, 1994).

“Mas se o porto (ou melhor os diferentes portos de uma grande realidade portuária) foi condição de fixação das fábricas, as indústrias, por sua vez, foram as grandes impulsionadoras da construção efectiva de um grande porto em Lisboa.”

Finally another particular event increased the pressure to develop the new great port of Lisbon. In 1869the Suez Canal was opened (Costa, 2006). Theoretically this new navigation path could bethe chance for Lisbon to regain importance in the international politics and commerce. It was thought that, due to its positions in the Atlantic coast, it would become a regular stop for the ships doing the route from the Mediterranean Sea to the central range[12] in Europe. It was clear at the time that the current port facilities could not host the traffic nor the scale of the ships the new canal would allow. The port was not just seen as an important element for the local industry but as a tool to recover a lost status, consistent with the maritime history of the country.

First ships on the Suez Canal. Source: http://www.gettyimages.de

The waterfront plans, from 1844 to 1887.

From the mid-1840s until the disclosure of the definitive port plan in 1887 we could see a vivid debate in the society of the time, regarding the use of the waterfront and the new landfills that could be developed on the river.

The expansion and improvement of the port was one of the main issues, as we have seen, but there were other subjects that also caused controversy. The hygiene and general living conditions weresome of them, as so it was the embellishment of the city that, as pointed out by some authors, paled when compared with other European metropolises. By the end of the century another important topic was the direction of the urban expansion. We have seen that in the reconstruction plans developed for the Baixa the S-N axis was the main development direction. However, only in the late 19th century, when Fontes Pereira de Melo was the minister in charge and Ressano García the leading engineer, would the final decision be made.

The history and relation of the different port plans has been analyzed by different authors in investigations exclusively dedicated to this topic[13]. For this reason we will work on the research already developed and will only present the general features of the plans and the process. We will also observe few key examples besides the definitive project from 1887.

During the second half of the 19th century we can see  how the issue of the urban and industrial expansion had three main positions. The first one prioritize the new urban areas and the mentioned embellishment. From this first group there were not so many proposals, and the official position, acknowledging the need of a new greater port, was neither on this side. The second option were the plans that had a clear commercialist and industrial approach, in which the port was clearly the most important element, neglecting the need of urban areas on the waterfront. This alternative, which eventually succeeded as we will see, counted with the support of the national government and the local industries. Certain intellectuals and planners did criticized it since the Tagus river, the key identity element of Lisbon, would be then separated from the city. The contact that it had been established, the new landfill of Boavista, would be ruined and the city would clearly turn its backs to the water, as indeed happened. Finally the third option, from which we have a couple of examples, was focused in having a general plan for the entire waterfront, or most part of it, that included the port and the urban expansion. These projects segregating urban and port functions kept connection with the Tagus and offered a more balanced perspective. One of the key elements of these proposals was the creation, or expansion, of the riverside promenade. Many of them did explained that it would be one of the most spectacular urban spaces of Europe, often comparing it with avenues and projects from other cities, like Antwerp or Marseille.

View of the Tagus river from the city. Francesco Rocchini (1822 – 1895), c. 1868. Retrieved from https://almada-virtual-museum.blogspot.de/2016/01/iconografia-de-lisboa-9-parte.html Originally from the National Library

The analysis of the different plans, reveals who were the participating agents. It is interesting to see that there were experts from different European countries, mostly from France and England, but also Italy, Spain, or Belgium. The lack of competent engineering schools in previous centuries caused this situation. From the Portuguese projects we can see that also often the technicians had studied abroad.

Although it was a project sponsored by the national government we also see that some private initiatives tried to develop landfill plan aiming at getting the exploration of the new land in long term deals.

The development of the railway was another important issue for the majority of the proposals. The lines would be developed along the waterfront, in the new landfills, taking profit of the new leveled land. The connection with the existing lines was one of the key goals. For this reason in most plans we see how the train would draw a line from east to west, including the Sta. Apolonia station, close to the riverfront. The Praça do Comércio would remain as the central element of all proposals, one of the “representative piers” identified by Costa (2006) in his classification of the waterfront spaces.

Plans from José Pezerat

One of the first architects and engineers to present a plan was Pierre Joseph Pézerat, Frenchman working in the Municipality since the early 1850s. There is information about him working in the waterfront improvement plan since 1844. In 1854 he published a plan for the section between Boavista and Rocha Conde d’Óbidos, which would later inspire the definitive plan for this area. In it, Pezerat intended to develop a closed port, a system of docks and piers, a maritime neighborhood and the railway. The ambitious plan was rejected by the municipality. Later in 1865 he presented a report about the improvements necessary for Lisbon. In this new document he increased the area of action from the previous project, extending it from the navy shipyard towards the west until the Tower of Belém. One of the novelties of this project was the fact that he relocated some port facilities to the south side of the Tagus in order to free up space in the northern side for urban activities.

1869 – Visconde de S. Januário e Eng. Mendes Guerreiro

In 1869 the Viscount of S. Januário and the engineer Mendes Guerreiro presented another plan that included the waterfront from Sta. Apolónia train station until the Tower of Belém. This plan had stronger maritime vocation. It included a study about the embarking and disembarking of cargo in the ships, creating a continuous quay along the extension of the project.

Plan presented by Count Januário and Eng. Mendes Guerreiro From: the Catalog of the 1988 idea competition

1870 – Thomé de Gamond

Thomé de Gamond, another french engineer, presented in 1870 his ambitious plan for the waterfront of Lisbon. The area included in the plan went from the valley of Alcântara, where existed several industrial settlements, to the area of Xabregas, more specifically Marvila. In the image we can see that the plan included large landfills, achieving a distance of 1150m to the previous river border in the farthest point.

Plan from the project by Thomé Gamond from 1870. Retrieved from Barata 2009: http://www.ub.edu/geocrit/sn/sn-296/sn-296-4.htm

One of the main innovations of this plan was the fact that included both the port and the urban expansion, with a total segregation of activities. Taking the Praça do Comércio as the center of the project,he created in the eastern section a major port of over 100Ha and 5220 m of pier. This location of the port, although it raised some criticism, it should allow a direct connection with the train station locatednearby. The plan also included the implementation of the railway to Sintra, running parallel to the riverside.

The urban expansionsector of the proposal implied a significant increase of the urban tissue between Praça do Comércio and Alcântara. This area should be dedicated to the new bourgeoisie of the time and, through real estate operations, it would help to finance the project (França, 1994). In the eastern sector we could also find a maritime district, destined to host commercial offices, industrial facilities and housing for the working classes linked to the sector.

The new urban structure included three new parks, the main oneplaced in Alcântara. A key element was the creation of a maritime, green boulevard, bright 115m. The concept of the “Tagus Avenue” would be a constant concept in many plans revealing how important it was to keep a connection with the river, although eventually, this link would be lost for several decades.

Plans developed by the 1871 Commission

In 1871 the ministry of the navy created a commission to analyze and make a proposal about the city and port of Lisbon. This work group was formed by Cateano Maria Batalha, Sanches de Castro, Gilberto Rolla, Ladislau Miceno Machado, Bento F.M.C. de Almeida de Eça, Domingos Parente, António Rodrigues Loureiro e José Joaquim de Almeida. The plan was finished in two years, although there are sources that indicate it was published only in 1874 (Barata, 2010).

This proposal included the waterfront from Sta. Apólonia station to Belém. It also implied smaller interventions in the south side of the Tagus, between Cacilhas and Trafaria. The plan would create new landfills gaining 157 Ha, and would develop 9 docks, 3 ship reappearing facilities, a major riverside boulevard, a working-class neighborhood and an extension of the navy shipyard. In the south side the new facilities would be linked with the river traffic.

In the image is clear that the main interventions would take place between Santos and Belém, leaving almost unaltered the eastern part of the city, where the industrial activities were starting to develop rapidly. Besides the port expansion, one of the main observations of the commission was that the health conditions of Lisbon still remained disturbing. The problems were not totally solved with the Boavista landfill. This concern is visible in the application of what at the time were considered the necessary rules for the development of healthy neighborhoods, mostly by improving the ventilation and sun light of the new urban areas. This concepts was translated into a regular urban tissue with brighter streets. This last feature can also be seen in other plans that include urban development.


Plan from the 1871 Commission Centro Documentocao Porto de Lisboa

1873 – Conde Clarange du Lucotte

The count Clarange du Lucotte had made a study in 1855, but his most relevant contribution is the plan from 1873. This project prioritized the urban functions over the port activities as we can see in the drawing. The proposal included two docks and an outer harbor. One of the main design features was the creations of a continuous pier from the navy shipyard next to the Praça do Comércio to Belém, totaling approximately 6,5 km.


1879 – Manuel Raimundo Valadas

In 1879 Manuel Raimundo Valadas, a Spanish engineer, presented his work, based in the plan previously done by the 1871 Commission. His proposal, although it agreed with the majority of the decisions made by the previous authors, included some changes. The area affected by the project extended from Praia Gastão, presumably in Xabregas, to Pedrouços in Belém. It also included territories in the south side of the river. The plan for the north side was divided into three sectors: the first one from Praia Gastão to the Customs, near the Sta. Apolónia train station and Praça do Comércio; the second one would extend from the last previous point to the Cordoaria[14], between Alcântara and Belém. Finally, the third sector would extend from the Cordoaria until Pedrouços, after the Belém Tower. Another innovation was the fact that he was one of the firsts to indicate that the larger factories and industries should be placed in the south side of the river, leaving the north side only for commercial operations. This would eventually become true, but only during the first half of the 20th century.

1882 – Miguel Pais

Miguel Pais, a notable Portuguese engineer of the time, famous for his project for a bridge connecting both sides of the Tagus, presented in 1882 (or 1883, there is mixed information about the publishing date) his project titled: “Melhoramentos de Lisboa e o seu Porto- Improvements of Lisbon and its port”. In it, he proposed an intervention from Beato, in the eastern section of the city, to the tower of Belém, totaling 11450 m. One of his concerns was the need of rapidly implementing the plan, since over the last decade there had been considerable discussion, but no real interventions. For this reason he proposed to combine 8450 m of stone piers, or wall as he explains, with iron bridges and piers, with aiming at a faster construction. The project included several docks, being the biggest one in the central section, between the navy yardand the Cordoaria, where the majority of the port areas would be placed. There were other two main features in his project. The first one, as stated by Barata, the creation of a wooded boulevard along the river side, from one end to the other of the project. The idea of the “Tagus avenue” persisted in many projects. The second element was the relocation of the navy yard to the south side of the river. A change that would eventually take place during the first half of the 20th century, when the new road linking east to west was built, passing through the deactivated navy facilities.

1886/7 – Final  plan, Joaquim de Matos and Adolfo Loureiro

Finally, in 1886, after hosting of competition in which six different projects were presented, the final plan was developed by the engineers João Joaquim de Matos and Adolfo Loureiro. The latter was the supervisor of the construction process, which started in 1887.

Port plan developed by Loureiro and Matos in 1886 for the tender competition Retrieved from the Centro de Documentacao do Porto de Lisboa

The Belgian engineer, Pierre Hildernet Hersent, was chosen as the contractor for the works to be developed. Hersent himself had participated in previous the competition. He secured the construction of the two central sectors, but later, found several problems with the government and was forced to exit the project.

The project was divided into 4 sectors: the first one, the central sector, included the waterfront from the train station in Sta. Apolónia to Alcântara; the second section went from Alcântara to Belém. The third included the river side from Sta. Apolónia towards the east; and the final part was the south side of the river. As Costa (2006) indicates only the first and second parts were realized, but not entirely.

The central section, where the majority of the new port infrastructure was placed, including the docks of Santos, Alcântara, the Navy, Alfândega (the custom) and the one form Terreiro do Trigo, the fluctuation dock in Boavista and the outer harbour, was left unfinished for many years. The dock of Santos was only completed later. The new dock for the navy was never done and the landfill in front of Praça do Comércio, where the train was supposed to circulate, was also never realized. The second part was fully built since it was crucial for the Cascais railway line and was consider a priority by the authorities.

The first construction period  from 1887 until 1905. Afterwards the original plan suffered several changes. Therefore the project was never fully completed, although several docks have remained in use until nowadays.

During the first decades of the 20th century the complex political climate in Portugal harmed the implementation of large scale projects. However, during the last years of the process regarding the development of a major in port in Lisbon, another issue emerged: the articulation in Belém between port and industrial infrastructure and some of the most cherished national monuments, such as the Torre de Belém or the Jerónimos Monastery (Costa, 2006). In some of the plans here explained there were several examples that destined this part of the city for the urban development. Later on, during the first half of the 20th century, we will see how this tendency of leaving the western part of the city for urban activities and focusing the port and industrial areas in the center (mainly in Alcântara and Santos, and mostly port activities) and eastern sections of the city, will be clearer in the waterfront interventions and new plan from 1946.

Simultaneously to the port plan discussion the expansion of the city towards the north was planned. The architect in charge in the municipality, Ressano García, developed a new project following the axis established in the Baixa plan, as we have already mentioned. The replacement of the PasseioPúblico for the new avenue and the layout of a further expansion to the north,combined with the new port and railway infrastructure, set the course for the “break up” with the river. Authors like Barata have pointed out how real estate speculationmight have also influenced this development of the city towards the north, since the plots were this expansion was planned belonged to powerful private owners who had economic interests in the implementation of the S-N axis.

In other texts we find evidence of how, as the industrial port developed, the relation deteriorated, particularly due to the limitation of the contact with the river. The port facilities formed, to the eyes of some inhabitants, a barrierseparating them from the Tagus without any concerns for the aesthetics quality or the public space. We can better understand this in the following texts from the time:

“Indiscutível é que as começadas obras são melhoramento comercial, e higiénico. Sim; Lisboa parece dever Lucrar com elas no seu Comércio, e na sua salubridade. Aí temos o lado útil.

Mas pergunto:

Não foi postergado o lado bello? Não foi sacrificada a um prosaísmo demasiadamente exclusivo a formosura proverbial de Lisboa? Não foi prejudicada pelas exigências meramente utilitárias a frontaria desta povoação proverbial de Lisboa? Não foram cruamente immolados alguns dos nossos mais majestosos logradoiros, alguns dos mais ilustres edifícios lisbonenses? Não vai ser arrancado à cidade um dos seus brasões mais fidalgos, o mar, a que devemos as nossas melhores glórias? (..) Estas novas obras (…) vieram tornar triviais e semsabores as pitorescas fimbrias maritimas de Lisboa.

Pois não teria havido meio de conciliar as exigências positivas com as artísticas? (…)”

Castilho, 1893

 “Cidade disposta em anfiteatro, em sucessivos terraços… ora perdendose

lá longe,… ora avançando sobre o rio como o estreito tombadilho duma nau. […] Como aproveitou o lisboeta estas condições naturais tão singulares, esta dádiva do céu e da água? Que partido tirou ele do Tejo? Voltou-lhe as costas, simplesmente”

“Na faixa marginal da cidade tem-se a impressão de que as edificações que ali se ergueram obedeceram à intenção de tapar com um biombo de cantaria a vista do Tejo(…) E em vez de tudo convergir para o rio fantástico, de ele ser o fundo dos quadros decorativos, de constituir, por assim dizer, o leitmotiv da estética citadina, e de se abrir a seu lado uma das mais belas avenidas do Mundo, corre ali um paredão inestético de casaria, de fábricas, de armazéns, e até de gasómetros, ocultando ao lisboeta a vista do seu largo e claro rio

Proença, 1924, Retrieved from Barata (2009)



Barata, A. (2009). A ordenaçao do espaço litoral de Lisboa, 1860-1940. Cripta Nova. Revista Electrónica de Geografía Y Ciencias Sociales., XIII(296). Retrieved from http://www.ub.es/geocrit/sn/sn-266-4.htm

Barata, A. C. M. (2010). Lisboa “caes da Europa”: realidades, desejos e ficções para a cidade (1860 – 1930). Lisboa: Edições Colibi – IHA/Estudos de Arte Contemporânea, FCSH – Universidade Nova de Lisboa.

Castilho, J. de. (1893). A Ribeira de Lisboa : descripção histórica da margem do Tejo desde a Madre de Deus até Santos-o-Velho. Lisbon: Imprensa Nacional.

Costa, J. P. T. D. A. (2006). La ribera entre proyectos : formación y transformación del territorio portuario, a partir del caso de Lisboa. Barcelona : University of Catalunya.

Cruz, J. P. P. (2016). A cidade e o rio: origem e evolução da frente ribeirinha de lisboa até ao século XVIII. Rossio – Estudos de Lisboa, (6), 116–129.

Custódio, J. (1994). Reflexos da Industrialização na Fisionomia e vida da cidade. In I. Moita (Ed.), O Livro de Lisboa (pp. 435 – 492). Lisboa: Livros Horizonte.

Folgado, D., & Custódio, J. (1999). Caminho do Oríente – Guía do património industrial. (J. Sarmento de Matos, Ed.). Lisbon: Livros Horizonte.

Folgado, D. (2015). Lisboa industrial. Um caminho da e para a modernidade. Rossio – Estudos de Lisboa, (5), 98–109.

França, J. A. (1980). Lisboa: Urbanismo e Arquitectura (1a). Lisbon: Instituto de Cultura e Língua Portuguesa Ministério da Educação e Ciência.

França, J. A. (1994). De Pombal ao Fontismo. In I. Moita (Ed.), O Livro de Lisboa (pp. 363–388). Lisboa: Livros Horizonte.

França, J. A. (1997). Lisboa: urbanismo e arquitectura (3rd ed.). Lisbon: Livros Horizonte.

Nabais, A. J. C. M., & Ramos, P. O. (1987). 100 anos do porto de Lisboa. Lisboa: Administração do Porto de Lisboa.

Ramos, P. O. (1992). Lisbon’s Historic Waterfront. Industriekultur Und Arbeitswelt an Der Wasserkante – Zum Umgang Mit Zeugnissen Der Hafen- Und Schiffahrtsgeschichte / Industrial Culture and Industrial Work in Coastal Areas – Howto Handle theHeritageof Port andShippingHistory, Arbeitshefte Zur Denkmal, (11), 41–45.

Ressano Garcia, P. (2007). Life and death of the Lisbon waterfront – Vida e morte do porto de Lisboa. Universidade Portucalense Infante D. Henrique.

Silva, R. H. (1994). Os Últimos Anos da Monarquia – Desenvolvimento urbanísitico os novos bairros. In I. Moita (Ed.), O Livro de Lisboa (pp. 405 – 424). Lisboa: Livros Horizonte.

Silva, R. H. da. (2001). Planear a cidade burguesa, 1777-1900. Lisboa depois do Marquês de Pombal. In M. H. Barreiros (Ed.), Lisboa, conhecer, pensar, fazer cidade (pp. 50–65). Lisboa: Câmara Municipal de Lisboa – Direcção Municipal de Urbanismo – Departamento de Informação Urbana.

Tobriner (sobre a Gaiola da Baixa)

[1]Regarding the number of casualties there are divergences. The documents of the time are not clear. França, for example, indicates 10000 casualties. Also, according to the same source, 54 convents, 35 churches, 33 palaces and 17 000 homes were destroyed (França 1994:363)

[2]Voltaire for example wrote the “Poème sur le désastre de Lisbonne”.

[3] Another notable feature was an innovative construction technology, named the “gaiola”, the cage, which would allow buildings with several floors, to have a certain flexibility, in theory increasing the resilience of the new constructions in case another earthquake took place. For more information see Tobriner, S. (2001). Compreender a importânciada Gaiola Pombalina, o Sistema anti-sísmicomais avançado do Século XVIII. In Pedra& Cal, n.° 11, July/August/September. GECoRPA.

[4]King D. Manuel I decided in the beginning of the 16th century to relocate the royal palace to the Terreiro do Paço where he could see the river and maritime activities, giving even more emphasis to the waterfront role (Cruz, 2016). After the earthquake the royal as moved to the Ajuda hill, far from the river and the new square was left for government and commercial affairs.(França, 1994, 1997)

[5]This waterfront development process has been included by Costa (2006) in the “building-by-building” category, one of the seven that he identified in his research.

[6]The first railway line in Lisbon was built in 1856 connecting the capital with Carregado. In the 1860s the train linked Lisbon with Porto and Madrid. Finally in the last 15 years of the 18th century we see the opening of the lines that connected Sintra and Cascais with Lisbon and the inner line linking Alcântara and Xabregas. (Costa, 2006)

[7] Regarding this information we could find sources indicating different figures. According to Castilho until de beginning of the port development works 20 plans were published, Costa states there were 30 and Ramos indicates there were more than 50, including global and partial plans.

[8]Costa (2006) indicates that there were previous landfills in Alcântara. These developed were in a smaller scale, unplanned and through a process that took several decades.

[9] Another way of noticing the economic and social changes is the observation of the international exhibitions. Different authors indicate how these events serve to “take the pulse” to the society of a certain time. In Lisbon, during the second half of the 19th century, different industrial exhibitions take place, showing the visibility the industrial process had for the society. Particularly relevant was the exhibition of 1888, when Herbest, the contractor for the port works, presented the plans for the future port of the capital (Custódio, 1994). We will see that in Lisbon the international exhibitions have played a relevant role regarding the urban development, particularly in the waterfront.

[10] In fact it was in this neighborhood where the first strike of the country took place. In 1849, in one of the first steel companies.(Custódio, 1994)

[11]Belém was until the end of the 19th century a separate municipality. Finally in 1885 was merged with Lisbon

[12] The central range refers to the coast section in central Europe, stretching from Le Havre to Hamburg, that includes several of the main port and logistic centers of the continent, including the two aforementioned and others such as Antwerp, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, or Bremen, among several.

[13]We refer particularly to the work developed by Castilho, Loureiro, Nabais& Ramos, França, Silva, Custódio, Costa and Barata among others.

[14]Cordoaria – Royal Ropery of Junqueira – is one of the main pre-industrial factories created during the government of Marquês de Pombal, in 1775. The building is an architectural landmark with very particular proportions, extending almost 400m parallel to the river in the Junqueira area. It was designed to be the main factory for maritime ropes, sails and other marine equipment.

Final stop: Back to Lisbon

Final stop: Back to Lisbon

The final stop of the Port-City tour was again Lisbon, where the trip first started in September. After visiting several port-cities in different countries we came back to the main study case in order to make the final analysis, complete the information about the Portuguese capital and reach some conclusions. In this post we will focus in the gathered information in two new interviews with the Municipality and the Port Authority. The conclusions of the trip will be published in a final stop after Lisbon. Also a paper about the developed research will be written and presented in the AESOP Young Academics congress in spring in the city of Ghent.

Lisbon’s study case has already been described in the blog in the beginning of the trip, hence for this post only the new information is relevant. In all the previous study cases we interviewed representatives from the main organizations. In this case in our first stop we were only able to speak with Mr. Rui Alexandre from the APL (Lisbon Port Authority). This time we were able to contact with Mr. Pedro Dinis (PD), Architect head of the public space department in Lisbon’s Municipality (CML). We also spoke once again with the APL, this time with Ms. Mariana Teixeira from the development and institutional relations department and Ms. Carla Matos, architect from the same institution.

The relation between the city and the port

When we asked the interviewees about the issue both mentioned that in the last decade the relation has evolved positively, more significantly in the institutional field.


PD pointed during our interview that the key moment for the current stage of the relationship was the passing of the law DL 100/2008 of June 16 2008. In this new legal document it was stated that the territory under the Port Authorities control would be moved to municipal control in case there was no port activity or port expansions planned in it. The importance of this document is obvious; previously we had already seen waterfront interventions, like the EXPO 98, or important plans, like the POZOR, criticized for its excessive construction near the river. The main step forward of this law was the normalization of the port land release process. An official procedure for this sort of change was created, prepared for improving the urban integration of these territories and avoiding industrial brownfields.

The next step releasing the unused port areas was the creation of a strategic plan in order to grant the correct and promptly transformation of the concerned territories. In the case of Lisbon this mandatory document, as pointed out by PD, was the General Plan of Interventions in the waterfront of Lisbon. In this document, we can find the different partial plans for the released sectors of Lisbon’s waterfront, back then with 19 km length. At the same time the plan established which areas would remain as active port and also which ones would have a mixed management.

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General Plan of Interventions in the waterfront of Lisbon. Source: http://www.cm-lisboa.pt/

In the first posts about Lisbon we saw that the active port is mainly concentrated in two sectors, the one from Poço do Bispo to Sta. Apolonia, and the one in Alcântara. Here the APL has total autonomy regarding the planning although generally the APL contacts the municipal authorities regarding new interventions, as confirmed by both sides. We have not seen major changes in the port infrastructure and as we know the main interventions will happen in the south side of the river.

The three mixed use areas at Lisbon’s waterfront are: Pedrouços dock, Santos and the waterfront sector where the new cruise terminal is being built. These territories will later be explained as well as other waterfront interventions.

In our interview we also asked about a possible collaboration or a public company for the management of the waterfront territories, just like we have seen in Oslo (Fjordcity) or Rotterdam (Stadshavens). In Lisbon we already had public agencies of joint ventures for the development of waterfront projects with two cases being particularly relevant: the Parque Expo and the Frente Tejo. Both platforms produced visible results in the city. The first one was in charge for the management of the EXPO 98 area, and later on it developed several urban plans and waterfront regeneration projects in the scope of the Polis program. The second one was responsible for the three key projects Lisbon’s waterfront, the Museu dos coches (Carriage Museum), the Praça do Comércio and the Ribeira das Naus. Unfortunately both platforms were closed due to political or financial reasons. PD agreed that it could be an interesting option for the future perhaps not a public company but rather an organization focused in the management process of the waterfront, with fixed meetings for discussing the matters related with this particular territory.

Museo dos Coches. Project from Arch. Paulo Mendes da Rocha in Belém. The new museum was responsibility from the extinguished Frente Tejo organization. Source: http://www.mmbb.com.br/


In our first posts we already saw that for the local inhabitants Lisbon is a maritime city but not necessarily a port-city. In this issue we find similarities with the situation we encountered in Oslo, where the Fjord is the main identity element and not the port. In the case of Lisbon the Tejo (Tagus River) is indeed a constant presence in the arts and the history of the city. It was the connection with the sea and the source of inspiration for poets and painters.  On the other hand, as all interviewees confirmed, historically the city was not so much open to the river, there was a clear connection and the river was an important economic resource, but at the same time was something to protect themselves from. From the river several threats could arrive to the city so only in certain areas the contact with the water was open, although until a certain point there were constructions directly in the coastline. We could say the current public quest for the access to the river is not a re-conquest of the waterfront, as we find often in the media, but rather a first conquest. Also is important to notice, as pointed by the APL professionals, that the industrial Port of Lisbon did not developed using urban territory, but by creating landfills in front of the city. It is clear that we have seen this situation in other cases, like Oslo, but also Marseille and Genoa.

One of the main challenge for the APL regarding its relation with the city and the citizens is clearly the communication and CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility). If the people from Lisbon are able to understand how important the port is, perhaps they might embrace it as an element for the urban identity.

The Waterfront

One of the most intriguing features of Lisbon’s waterfront is the relatively scarce construction near the water. When we compared with other cases we see that in the north-central European cities, like Oslo, Helsinki, Rotterdam or Hamburg, the urban tissue reaches the water line. In the Portuguese case, except some port related buildings such as old warehouses, silos or terminals, we find very few new buildings. The new constructions on the waterfront are almost exclusively in the Expo area, or in Cais do Sodré. When we asked PD his onion about this characteristic, he explained there might be several explanations for this issue. The POZOR plan, as he mentioned, included a considerable amount of construction in the waterfront and it was not well received, therefore it might have been a reaction to it. On the other hand the concept of leaving the waterfront free from dense construction had the support of all political groups which was considered to be a necessary common ground for the future development. At the same time the construction constraints are stricter regarding housing projects. We can find new buildings in the waterfront related with other uses, such as offices in Cais do Sodré, or research, the Champalimaud Foundation. The limitation for housing projects is due to the fact that this sort of development changes the perception of the river, creating spaces that might be perceived as semi-private, harming the public identity pretended for this sensitive section of the city. The exception to this rule can be found in the Expo area, far from the historic city center, where small amount of housing were allowed near the water. In the neighbor municipalities we can find more projects of this kind, mainly in Oeiras and Cascais. Finally another important issue is the fact that Lisbon is the center of the metropolitan area with almost 3 million inhabitants that come to the city, therefore it is necessary to have large public spaces able to answer the demands of this population.

East part of the city

We have previously seen that there are several important projects planned for Lisbon’s waterfront. In the initial posts we explained that some of these projects had a doubtful future. For these reason we asked Arch. PD about them. Apparently, the economic crisis that stroke Portugal in 2008, and that we still suffer nowadays, was the main reason for the delay of these projects. The plan for Matinha, the area contiguous toward the south to Parque das Nações, is being developed into further detail. Next to it, the Jardins de Braço de Prata from Renzo Piano, is currently being revised, we can imagine it is necessary to update the project since it was originally designed in 1999. In the same area the eastern riverfront park should also be developed as compensation for the housing development. Since the project did not advance when it was expected, we can imagine that for this reason the investor did not built the park. As we mentioned in the previous posts about Lisbon, the competition for this new green area took place but it was cancelled due to irregularities in the process. Its development should be resumed in short time.

Plan from the Braço de Prata housing development, original project from 1999. In the image we also see the plan for Matinha. Source: http://www.rpbw.com

Central section

Near the historical city center is where we find one of the first mixed management areas, the Doca da Marinha (Navy dock), Also here we can find the Cais do Jardim do Tabaco and the old Doca do Terreiro do Trigo. In this location is the passenger terminal of Sta. Apolonia which will be replaced by the new Lisbon Cruise Terminal (LCT). In October 2015 the building contract was signed and the construction is already taking place. The new infrastructure should be finish for the first months of 2017. The location of this new terminal caused much discussion back in 2010 when the architectural competition took place. Its location in a sensitive context was seen with some reluctance by some planners. PD explained us why this place and this project were chosen. There were three main reasons: (i) one of the main goals was to create a direct pedestrian connection with the main tourist attraction areas and avoid the traffic generated by the large amount of tourists that arrive in the cruises. If the terminal would have been placed in the other possible location, Alcântara, the traffic problem would continue and new public transport lines would be needed; (ii) the context where the new construction will be built is indeed very sensitive, but at the same time is considerably degraded, it is expected that the new terminal will help to regenerate the area and the local commerce; (iii), another key goal was the creation of public space on the waterfront, the project from Carrilho da Graça generates new public areas on the ground but also on an elevated level.

The new Lisbon Cruise Terminal (LCT), a project from Arch. João Luis Carrilho da Graça. Source: http://jlcg.pt/

In the central section of the riverfront we can find two new projects that will improve the relation with the river. Near the Sta. Apolonia cruise terminal the same architect won the competition for the Campo das Cebolas, next to Praça do Comércio. This new space will have a green area near the river and improve the living conditions of this neighborhood, which due to its dense medieval urban structure has almost no green spaces. The other project, in Cais do Sodré, will improve the existing square opening it to the river with a new space by the water. Between both interventions the Ribeira das Naus project is already in use, since mid 2014, with very acceptance from the citizens.

New project for Cais do Sodré. Arch. Bruno Soares. Source: http://www.publico.pt
Campo das Cebolas, a new public space in Lisbon’s Waterfront. Arch. João Luis Carrilho da Graça.Source: http://www.publico.pt

In the area of Santos, one of the mixed management sections, there is still no specific project for it. In the strategic plan there are guidelines to what could happen in this area, mainly destined for leisure facilities. In the same document the main goal was to improve the visual and pedestrian connections between the consolidated urban structure and the river.

West waterfront

Alcântara is the second part of the waterfront where we can find the active port. Besides the cargo and cruise terminal we can also find the general offices of the APL and the historic cruise terminal that hosts paintings from Almada Negreiros. This building, as we mentioned in the initial posts, will be refurbished to host the APL headquarters and the documentation center that we will describe later.

Along the river, the next area where most important changes will take place, besides de new museum in Belém, is the Docapesca- Doca de Pedrouços, the third mixed management section of the waterfront. In this territory we used to find the fishing activities that unfortunately were moved outside Lisbon, to the MARL (Mercado Abastecedor da Região de Lisboa) and Nazaré. MT mentioned that the existing facilities were already in poor condition, therefore change was necessary. In this case a new agreement regarding this area was signed between the municipality and the APL during the port’s day, on the first of November of 2015. The main goal for this collaboration is the development of a sailing center including training facilities and a marina for teams from the Volvo Ocean Race, in order to allow them to stay the whole year and not just during the event. The municipality agreed to this new activity since they are also potentiating the water sports among the schools of the city. Also as compensation they demanded a new pedestrian connection with the waterfront to be built in Belém, what would allow the replacement of the existing ones, which were supposed to be temporary but ended up remaining for several years. In the same sections we should also see in the following years the second stage of the Champalimaud Center. For the development of this area the APL also collaborated with Oeiras, the bordering municipality. Ideally this project could be extended until the national stadium sport complex, regenerating a major section of the waterfront with 2 km, joining municipalities and port.

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Champalimaud Foundation. Project from Arch. Charles Correa. Source: http://www.fchampalimaud.org/

Communication Soft Values

Talking with the neighbors

We have seen previously in this research how important is the communication and interaction with the local communities for the relation between city and port. In the case of Lisbon we asked the representatives of the APL what initiatives were being taken in this matter. Regarding the communication we were told that the contact with the local communities is done mainly through the official channels, collaborating with the municipality and the freguesias, the neighbor or parish representatives. Apparently in recent years there was no need to establish a direct communication with the inhabitants of the areas near the active port in the north side of the river. Nowadays the main effort is been made in the south side, in the areas affected by the new terminal. In this context there were at least three debates with the locals since the project location was decided.


For the disclosure of seaport soft values, the port-center are a very useful tool. We have seen in Genoa and Rotterdam how they can explain the port reality and increase the acceptance of the port. In the case of Lisbon, MT confirmed us that there is a project for a new documentation and information center (CDI). The project is associated with the refurbishment of the cruise terminal of Alcântara, as it was early told by Arch. Rui Alexandre, and it would include an exhibition area prepared for groups of different ages, researches space, an area for meeting with the municipalities and citizens and a café. This new facility could complete the existent exhibitions about the history of the city since, as we said in previous posts, the current information available in the city and navy museum does not explain the important role of the port in the development of Lisbon over the last 150 years.  Ideally the port-center could be integrated in the network of Lisbon’s museum and libraries. For the moment the CDI is still a project without a specific opening date and is certainly pending from other real estate operations that would make possible the moving of the APL headquarters to the aforementioned terminal.

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Alcântara Passenger terminal. This building will be refurbished and host the CDI. Inside we can visit the paintings from Almada Negreiros. Author: José M P Sánchez

Image of the Port

Early before we mentioned the open day at the port of Lisbon that took place in Autumn 2015. This was the first time this sort of event took place in Lisbon. During this day the citizens could visit historic ships, like the navio escola Sagres, tub boats or the cruise terminal. We were told that the initiative was prepared in very short time therefore it did not got all the attention it could have gotten. The intention is to transform it into a fix event twice a year in fixed dates, which would allow more detailed planning and disclosure in the media. In other port-cities, like Hamburg and Rotterdam, these sort of actions are celebrated and bring the people to the port. The scale is clearly different but the effect can still be very positive.

Visitors during the Open day at the Port of Lisbon. Source: Porto de Lisboa

During the time spent in Lisbon we got to know other cultural initiatives also related with the port, for example an exhibition with historic pictures of the port that has been on tour in different locations. Regarding other cultural events, like concerts or festival, the APL rents some spaces for them, like the Nós festival in Algés waterfront. In compensation, besides getting a rent, they also request that the image of the port is present, mainly by playing a video before the shows. In other cases we have seen stronger port characterization of the space where the concerts take place, for example the Elbjazz festival in Hamburg or the classical music concert in Las Palmas.

Like many other ports the APL has developed a collaboration program with many schools of the region, organizing visits for children and teens. In the early mentioned agreement between the municipality and the APL, besides the professional sport facilities, the goal is to increase the water sports presence in the schools of the city.


The relation between the port and the city in the context of Lisbon has evolved significantly as we have just seen. Although the agreements took a while to happen, they did gave an important thrust to the synergies between both parties. Unfortunately the crisis that stroke the country in the year 2008 affected negatively the urban development towards the river and the port. In this post we have seen that there are important projects planned for the waterfront, but most of them have suffered a delay of several years, in some case even more than a decade. The result is that for several years we had areas of the waterfront that no longer had port use, but were not fully integrated in the urban structure.

During this time gap when the projects were place on hold, it could have been interesting to create temporary uses in order to allow them to be assimilated by the local inhabitants. Nowadays, as we were told by the municipality, the projects will finally become a reality and the general image of the waterfront should be improved. For the next step of the research it remains to analyze the most delicate part of the waterfront, the actual border between city and port in both sections of the active port in the north side. In these areas the challenge is even more difficult and a more thorough investigation will be required.

Port of Lisbon. The main challenger remains the border between the active port and the city.  Source: Port of Lisbon

The expansion of the port in the south part of the river will also be an interesting subject to study. We have already described the main goals and the process so far. The development of the ongoing competition and the approach for the relation with the municipalities should be also very interesting. The main question might be: How to create a container terminal in a brownfield which relates with the local community and the urban structure?

In all the interviews performed in this visit and the previous one. it was clear that the port is an important part of Lisbon, therefore its presence should not be questioned. However, we find that many inhabitant do not share this point of view.  The fact that the port did not actually took space from the city, but built its own in landfills, does not eases the image of the harbour among the locals. Lisbon is a river-city, but could it be a port-city? In this context the communications strategy has a key role. In order to have a good port-city relation in the future, the APL must act now. To achieve the acknowledgement from the citizens as a key element of their identity, the port must open itself even more and intensify the dialogue. Several important initiatives have been started, we hope they are consolidated and are able to give a correct use to the seaport soft-values.

For the next stages of the research we will address some of the problems here mentioned, particularly the role of port centers and the good practices on social integration of ports. This following step should be done collaborating with the AIVP, which will allow a new approach and hopefully bring new inputs from renowned professionals in the port-city relation field.