Resting almost directly below one of Lisbon’s greatest landmarks, the 25th of April Bridge, sits one of the newest, coolest and most understated locations in Lisbon – LX Factory.
Kept hidden for years, this old manufacturing complex, once one of the most important in the city, has been returned to the city in the form of LX Factory, one of the most creative and innovative hubs in the country. Occupied by professionals of the creative industry, it also serves as a stage for a wide range of happenings related to fashion, arts, architecture, music and much more.
LX Factory is one of the country and Europe’s foremost creative hubs
First taken over by small businesses and creative professionals, LX Factory is a modern hip art centre that houses various start-up businesses, ranging from funky restaurants to work spaces for designers and artists. Such was the creative vibe in this area that it almost passes for an independent city, be it in its unique architecture, atmosphere, creation and evolution – after the first settlers in the form of start-ups, coffee shops and bars started to join the scene to cater to the professionals hard at work there. Shops soon followed and the whole complex became a booming, hip, well-frequented area of Lisbon.
More interesting than the startups it holds, are the businesses they sparked – LX Factory holds a weekly flea market on Sunday in its main street, where vendors sell quirky vintage and local designer clothes, vinyls, old CDs, handmade jewellery and everything in between – think of it as a concentrated version of Portobello Market. On anniversary days and some special dates, they also host an open day with live music, street food and a whole lot of entertainment for a day well spent in the sun.
And grab a coffee you should, along with all sorts of other delicious food and pastries, many unique to the places that call LX Factory home. Landeau is one such perfect example, and the fact that it thrives on selling just a single item can give you an idea of just how good it is – Landeau’s chocolate cake is legendary, and a top contender for best chocolate cake of all time, having taken the city by storm and delighting locals and tourists alike with its super soft and gooey texture, that is sumptuously filled with chocolate and a little hint of salt. 1300 Taberna, which boasts possibly one of the coolest decorations in town, is an open-spaced, dark-coloured restaurant with a tasteful decoration, filled with objects from everywhere, from grandma’s attic to the thrift shop, which make for a very cosy atmosphere, despite seating around 100 people – from the small, joint table area at the door, where you nibble and share dishes, to another individual-table area inside next to the open kitchen, where you can have a tasting menu, 1300 Taberna prides itself on using local and genuinely Portuguese ingredients, sourced from small-batch producers.
After lunch, head to Livraria Ler Devagar – translated as “reading slowly”, this alternative bookshop, concept store, art gallery and internet café is the perfect place to rest easy after a delicious meal. You can catch up on your reading, find a new book, gaze at the bicycle suspended from the ceiling or engage in a friendly conversation with staff and locals, just like in an old-timey salon.
Foodies definitely have it covered, as do shopping addicts. Besides the aforementioned weekly flea market, LX Factory regularly hosts pop-up stores, as well as playing host to some of the city’s quirkiest, most original designers or just plain alternative stores. Organii, born from a family project of two sisters, aims to bring to the local market one of the greatest trends of the new millennium; bio cosmetics. Healthy, sustainable living and respect for the environment are the founding pillars of this beauty store, offering chemical-free cosmetic solutions. Lifetime Kids Rooms is another great suggestion, with its super-creative furniture for kids where design, quality and practicality meet fantasy and imagination, while Bairro Arte is the go-to store for any and all things quirky or vintage, with a wide selection of humorous posters, coffee mugs, maps, iPhone cases and much more. LX Factory is also home to an impressive collection of street art, being the stage for some of the first interventions in the city by the new wave of street artists that have swept Lisbon in recent years, and its unique architecture is an attraction in and of itself.
But the true appeal of LX Factory lies beyond its stores or restaurants. The revival of a once-abandoned super-industrial complex, which dates back to 1846, tells the story of the city and its people. Its graffiti-laden walls, its decadent, industrial look and the fact that it persevered – no, thrived – in such an adverse environment, and is today one of the country and Europe’s foremost creative hubs is a testament to the will of the community. As you walk the dilapidated sidewalks, as you admire its one-of-a-kind street art, as you stumble upon and discover new stores, ideas, products and possibly even new people, as you take in the beauty of its far-from-perfect architecture, you’ll understand how LX Factory – and Lisbon – have managed to reinvent themselves without losing their authenticity.
– Landeau for the chocolate cake
– The vintage market every Sunday for thrift shopping and quirky gifts
– Organii for the bio cosmetics
– Oh!Brigadeiro for some of the best brigadeiros in town
– 1300 Taberna for a twist on local Portuguese food
– Ler Devagar for one of the most interesting bookstores in town