The current attention being paid to Lisbon by both tourists and investors has certainly given a new life to the city. Since a couple of years from now, the number of visitors vastly outgrew the number of inhabitants in the central parts of Lisbon. Even though some might complain about the fast changes in the social landscape of the city, few will argue that this recent interest has done much more good than harm to Lisbon. The positive effects from this recent enthusiasm are very visible in Lisbon’s urban landscape. A few years ago it would be easy to pinpoint several decaying buildings in the city center. Now a lot of these same buildings are completely refurbished or in a careful refurbishment process, keeping their major original characteristics while making them habitable again.
There is, however, another great sign of this recent progress that’s not so easy to pinpoint, especially for a non-native, the outward expansion of the city. Residential neighborhoods are improving their cultural and leisure offers, as well as their infrastructures, in order to capitalize on the interest of both local and international investors. Proving this is the rapidly developing areas of the “West Corridor” (that contains the areas of Amadora, Odivelas, Algés, etc) and “Parque das Nações”. This kind of expansion is a good sign for the sustainability of Lisbon’s growth since it develops the entire district in a propositional way instead of clustering one or two areas. Belém is one of the cities catching the eyes of tourists and investors alike, for reasons such:
• Historical relevance – the coastal city of Belém was the main departure port of the discoveries era, the proudest moment in Portuguese history. Therefore several of Lisbon’s most important monuments can be found there, like the Belém Tower, Jerónimos Monastery, and Padrão dos Descobrimentos.
• Cultural relevance – Belém is also known for its museums and culture houses. Belém Cultural Centre is maybe the most prestigious culture house in Lisbon (on par with the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation). Not only its building is a mark on itself in modern architecture, CCB also hosts several prestigious spectacles from all kinds of performance arts as well as the most prestigious collection of modern art in the country, the Joe Berardo collection (containing works from Andy Warhol to Pablo Picasso). Belém is also the city of MAAT (museum for architecture and technology), Coche Museum (carriage museum), Navy Museum, especially interesting when taking into account Portugal’s rich history with the sea, and others.
• Convenient access – Belém is only 7km away from the center of Lisbon and as such it’s well served when it comes to public transportation.
• Untapped potential – Even though Belém is considerably closer to the center of the city it hasn’t been having explored by investors like the more central areas. So, in spite of hosting the Portuguese Presidential Residence, you can find properties with great investing potential at lower prices than the ones in other prime areas of Lisbon.
• Pasteís de Belém – The famous “Portuguese Custard Pie” that everybody craves has its birthplace in Belém. Every Portuguese native will agree that you cannot find a better “pastel de nata” (as is known outside of Belém) anywhere else.