Parque das Nações, Lisbon

Parque das Nações reflects the futuristic architecture common to Lisbon’s eastern section. This modern design mode is in contrast to the much older style structures found in the city’s historic districts. This futuristic design was the choice of the creative architects who were responsible for the layout and individual buildings used during Expo ‘98, the 1998 World Fair held in Lisbon from May to September of that year.

This particular World Fair was outstanding in several ways. As international expo since the first Great Expo in 1851 in London, the Lisbon World Fair of 1998 drew participation from 141 different nations and global organizations. As the final World Expo of the 20th century, it took place at the same time as the noted 500th anniversary celebration of Vasco da Gama arriving in India. It also shared dates with the Year of the Oceans commemoration of the United Nations.

The main theme for the ‘98 Expo was “The Oceans: A Heritage for the Future.” To accommodate this global event, the eastern end of Lisbon’s famed waterfront required restructuring. Following the expo, this new city district that had been created was called Parque das Nações, meaning Park of Nations. It is still known as one of the most extensive urban area redevelopment undertakings ever to be completed in Europe.

Visitors can easily access this popular site via the metro at scenic Oriente Station. One frequently visited attraction within Parque das Nações is the fascinating Oceanarium, often praised as being the world’s most modern and comprehensive aquarium. Another is the expansive Vasco da Gama shopping mall. Additional favored points of interest include beautiful water gardens, a large casino, a scenic marina, a viewing tower and many quality bars and restaurants. A pair of handsome towers constructed to resemble huge sailboats are actually office and apartment buildings. These twin towers bear the names of two famous ships sailed by Vasco da Gama-São Rafael and São Gabriel.

Guests can easily visit the entire area, traveling by miniature train service or a cable car, both of which offer marvelous views of all the attractions and the river, including an impressive bridge. This bridge is, in fact, known as one of the longest bridge designs in the world. There are many more spectacular structures and features within the Parque das Nações. The largest outstanding attraction is the Vasco da Gama Tower, an immense viewing tower which was recently transformed into a luxury hotel. Another is a monumental steel sculpture of 20 meters in height named “Sun Man,” created by Portugal’s noted artist, Jorge Vieira.

Nearby is the Portugal Pavillion. This structure is a celebrated landmark of modern architecture with its wave-shaped roof designed by Siza Vieira, winner of the Pritzker Award. The famed Oriente Station, designed by Santiago Calatrava, is a very famous feature. Its acclaimed tile panels, the works of international artists, include the well-known cartoon fashioned characters from mythology and from legendary sea tales such as Poseidon and the sinking of the Titanic. This cartoon panel is by the Icelandic artist, Erró.

Also of great interest to visitors are the impressive Atlantic Pavillion, now call Meo Arena, where many concerts are held and the structure housing the Vodafone Headquarters, which won architect Alexandre Burmester the honored Valmor Prize. Another Valmor Prize winning structure, which is only a few feet away, is the Knowledge Pavillion created by Carrilho da Graça. There is much of spectacular beauty and design to be seen and experienced at Parque das Nações, and many travelers make multiple visits to this famous site.