In the initial construction phase of the Lisbon metro railway line 60 years ago, the decoration of the metro stations (designed by Francisco Keil do Amaral) had merely a functional purpose. Some of these stations with their tile covered walls still depict such austerity.  The first stations to be conceived with a double function, i.e. transporting people and people’s imagination, emerged later in 1993, from the minds of 4 Portuguese contemporary artists: Rolando Sá Nogueira (Laranjeiras Station), Júlio Pomar (Alto dos Moinhos Sation), Manuel Cargaleiro (Colégio Militar/Luz Station) and Vieira da Silva (Cidade Universitária Station).

This was the beginning of artistic creation in metro stations. It can be turned into a treasure hunt for everyone: Lisbon is the treasure island and metro stations are where the treasures are hidden. With the help of a map we can embark on a treasure hunt that will get us richer and where our senses will travel.

There are currently 50 metro stations in Lisbon with their own art creation, the description of which (including history, information about respective architects, artists and works of art) can be found on Metro de Lisboa official website: Not all will deserve a visit, however, in addition to the 4 stations mentioned above, there are others that hide truly exceptional works which are worth visiting. In other words, there is a less superficial work to be discovered.


This is a wide station with a large platform and hall. Architect Tomás Taveira is the author of the project, having also contributed to the figurative art covering the station's walls, jointly with visual artists Pedro Cabrita Reis, Graça Pereira Coutinho, Pedro Calapez and Rui Sanchez. In 2012, a press article of “Impact your World, from the US news channel CNN elected this station as one of the ten most beautiful metro stations in Europe.

Red is the dominant colour (using associations with colours of the same line), but white, yellow or blue can also be found, creating the impression of a large aquarium with many types of sea plants shining under the water.

Specific elements can be found on the platforms and hall, such as a metallic structure painted in black and white, called “Ascension” The structure represents a staircase for a “symbolic ascent” of Metro users, next to the actual staircases and escalators.

On the four walls of the access to the platforms there is a bas-relief coating with a sandy texture, representing hand prints that symbolise the movement of people and the individuality of each person.


The inspiration for the decoration of this station came from Lewis Carroll's “Alice in Wonderland” as gathered from the huge rabbits on the walls, underneath which we can read “I’m late”. The artist was António Dacosta, a surrealist and subsequently abstract painter, who was also a member of the Lisbon Surrealist Group. Before he died, he left a number of sketches and drawings, which were integrated in the station according to the interpretation of painter Pedro Morais.


The cast-in marble tiles are from Bartolomeu dos Santos (1931-2008). The artist made magnificent work of engraved stone using acid, lacquers and paints, representing a library - given the station’s vicinity to the National Library - with long shelves of bound books from the greatest names in Portuguese and world literature, including the artist’s favourites, namely Borges, Márquez, Eco or Eliot.

The painting of the library tells the story of literature in lato sensu as a large part of the depicted books from before the 20th century is not strictly literature bur mostly technical, such as sea charts, atlas or plans of fortresses.

In fact, more than reflecting the history of Portuguese literature, Bartolomeu dos Santos wanted to show the history of the Portuguese books which he deemed more important, those that contributed to the evolution of thought, arts, science, politics and society, using them to express his convictions and favourite subjects and to tell their stories. 


Here, blue is the ever-present colour. It springs up from numerous symbols relating to the subject of the Portuguese discoveries, alternating with quotations from writers, poets and philosophers. Among other symbols and images, there is a mapa-mundi with the routes taken by the Portuguese discoverers, delimited by numbered rectangles, which pop up along the platforms, following a chronological and thematic logic.

Let the treasury hunt being

Pedro Mata


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