January 18, 2018 at 11:36 pm

Exploring Lisbon’s underground art

Exploring Lisbon’s underground art
Exploring Lisbon’s underground art
Exploring Lisbon’s underground art

Disclaimer! This article was written in collaboration with Metro de Lisboa. We wouldn’t have had the opportunity to take these pictures without their support.

49 stations + 1 (recently inaugurated – Reboleira). The Lisbon’s Metro is not about a maze of lines and stops you’ll find in most of the capitals. It’s about tradition. Because, dear traveller, if you are the traditional traveller, opting for metros and trams instead of just tuk-tuks, you’ll discover a side of Lisbon, beautiful without compare. This side of Lisbon is deeply connected to one of the oldest Portuguese arts – the glazed tile artwork (arte do azulejo in Portuguese).

Lisbon’s Metro network was inaugurated in 1959, being the 14th in Europe and the 25th in the world. Here you don’t feel the hustle often witnessed in capitals like London or Paris. Be mindful and you’ll suddenly find yourself frozen in the middle of a crowd passing by. That often happens to us when we spot a piece of art, either a glazed tiled wall, a marble sculpture or a painting.

While metros are associated with dark, claustrophobic, impersonal areas, you’ll be surprised at how delightful and energising the ride on the Lisbon’s metro network is. Just like spending time in a museum. And that is also due to the music that keeps you company while you wait. Yes, it’s true, the metro has its own sound, usually chill out music, as a way of saying: Relax, it will arrive! If you’re downtown either in Rossio or Baixa Chiado stations, listen carefully.

We put together some of the metro stations on each line that we believe are worth passing stopping by. Don’t forget to take the metro next time you’re commuting or visiting Lisbon! 🙂

BLUE line

Amadora Este

As you step out you’ll spot the yellow and blue lighted atmosphere, a representation of the sky and the earth.



What the artist intended with this abstract representation was to show the urban area, the universe of departures and arrivals, the universe of travels.

Alfornelos metro Lisboa


Being illuminated with natural light, the hyper realistic colorful drawings give this station an effect of grandiosity.


The author of this station, José de Guimarães, found inspiration in his stay in Africa in the ’60s, the reason why you can see symbols of the indigenous cultures, represented on the pavement or on panels with strong colored tiles.

Colégio Militar / Luz

This station is special. The blue tiled corridors remind of old times where the tilework was omnipresent in schools, public institutions, convents or palaces. Moreover, you will also notice the marbel pannels carved in diamond shapes. In short, here one can admire the mastership of the Art of Tilework in Portugal.

Alto dos moinhos

Four sketches of Portuguese poets, Camões, Bocage, Pessoa and Almada, are represented in this station, paying tribute to the Portuguese Plastic Arts.


Oranges all over. The explanations is easy. Laranjeiras in Portuguese means “orange trees” and this area of Lisbon was once famous for its farms and orchards. These hyper-realistic oranges were created in screen printing.

Jardim Zoológico

This was one of the first stations, and restored in 1995. As you will notice, the tiles are inspired from the nearby Zoo.

Praça de Espanha

The diamond shaped patterns in this station, in yellow and white on one side and green and grey on the other, form an illusion of tridimensionality.

Parque (secret)

Being one of the oldest stations of Lisbon, it was included in a program that calls for the registration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in public spaces. For copyrights reasons, we cannot showcase its beauty, but we highly recommend you stop by to convince yourself how impressive it is.

RED line


The end of the red line next to Lisbon’s Airport, displays 50 figures of the Modern Portugal’s history on 49 panels spreaded all over the station.


Artists from five different corners of the world contributed to the creation of the walls in tiles and bronze. Its design is connected to Expo-98 theme, the Oceans.


This station’s hallmarks are the ceramic sculptures and panels representing the olive trees, as the name olivais in Portuguese suggests. There are also Portuguese motifs invoked, like the Belem Tower, Vasco da Gama or Fatima that suggest Portugal’s contribution to the development of modernity. To be noticed is also the typical Portuguese pavement.


The highlights of this station are the red columns dressed in tiles.

Bela Vista

The ceramic artwork along with the traditional techniques of tilework on the large walls are astonishing. “Astonishing” cannot even describe it enough.


This is undoubtedly one of our favorite stations. The multicoloured panels and the red columns turn it into more than a momentary station, rather a fantastic resting spot. It speaks creativity everywhere you turn.


The theme of the tilework is “The Navigators” displaying some of the great names of the Portuguese Discoveries. You will witness a surreal atmosphere created by the combination of the multicolored painted marble stones and their translucency.

São Sebastião

Located between Eduardo VII Park and Gulbenkian Museum, the theme evoked in this station is “The Tree”, represented by geometrical motifs in colors, predominantly green and blue.


Quinta das conchas

We find this station really engaging and fun, that’s why we spent about half an hour going through all the scribblings. Apparently, that was also the intention of the artist with her tilework named “Scribbling and doodling”. The plastic artist commented that “there are people out there who scribble and doodle every day. These are universal ways just like chewing pens”. P.S They are also translated to English.

Cidade Universitária

There are famous quotes covering this station’s walls like “I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world.” by Socrate that resonates much with usThis station takes you to the universities’ campus of Lisbon.

Entre Campos

Inspired by the Portuguese Literature and the cultural dynamics, Entre Campos displays vegetal and marine motifs, motifs from the Middle Age to this day, as well as two national works of art “Os Lusíadas” by Camões and “Ode Marítima” by Álvaro de Campos, to suggest the artist’s invitation to read.

Campo Pequeno

The reason why you will see panels in marble and gemstones portraying bulls, is because Campo Pequeno holds an arena for bullfighting. To be noticed are also the statues of women from this antique rural area.


The main themes of this station are the fours elements, Earth, Water, Air and Fire, the four seasons, the five senses, illustrative moments like The Waiting, The Meeting and The Goodbye, and decorative motifs in the baroque style, represented in the traditional tilework.


This metro station is beautiful inside as much as it is outside, at its doorstep. The entrance of the station was offered by the Metropolitan from Paris, in the Art Nouveau style.

Marques de Pombal

The historical figure of Portugal, Marques de Pombal, gives name to this station. He took charge of Lisbon’s reconstruction after the 1755 earthquake. Besides, he was responsible for several reforms in the country in the 18th century. Many of them are depicted on the panels.

GREEN line

Campo Grande

One more special station which decoration is based on the typical figures represented in the art of tiles from the eighteenth century. Called the “invitation figures”, they were usually depicted at the entrances, in the halls and stairways of the time’s great buildings, suggesting a welcoming attitude.


If you’re not Portuguese and wondering what the representations on the panels symbolize, you must know that they’re inspired by the Portuguese traditional story that appeared in the books of the primary school, about a monkey with a cut tail, which made a razor out of its tail and a sardine out of the razor. On the larger panel, there are portrayed the french girls of la belle epoque. The intention of the artist was to stimulate the collective imagination.


Using images of children in real situations of play and recreation, the theme of this work is “The girls”.

Martim Moniz

The name of the station is given by the large plaza with the same name that pays homage to Martim Moniz, who was a Christian soldier that sacrificed himself for the reconquest of the city in 1147. Being an international area, with nationalities from all over the world, the plastic work on tiles depicts its multiculturalism and Lisbon’s reconquest.

Cais do Sodré

Cais do Sodré is huge! Having much larger dimensions than the rest of the stations, it made possible the creation of large artistic panels. They portray a rushed rabbit. And guess who is this rabbit?  It is the personalization of one of the characters from the literature classic, “Alice in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll.

Source: metro.transporteslisboa.pt

Note! Please take into consideration that you are not allowed to take pictures inside the metro.

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4 thoughts on “Exploring Lisbon’s underground art

  1. Rose says:

    Since I’ve been in Lisbon, i have been to most of the stations here and i noticed how each of the metro stations have their own personality and i thought that is quite creative. I love that you did a post about it. This is awesome!

    1. diana.coza@gmail.com says:

      Thank you, Rose, for you kind comment! Capturing Lisbon’s metro art was an involving and rewarding project. We use metro on a daily basis and it also doesn’t cease to surprise us with every station we stop by. Glad to know you’re in the same boat 🙂

  2. LGNET says:

    You have a small typo in your article, Lisbon’s Metro has 56 stations, already including the recently opened Reboleira station.

    1. Where Two Go To says:

      Hello! We’ve just checked this info again and they’re actually 50. Thank you nevertheless 🙂

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