Fine Arts

There’s Beauty in the Decay

I’ve been known to plan entire vacations around street art. Give me a dilapidated building and a dusting of spray paint, and I’m putty in the hands of the graffiti gods. One aspect of Lisbon that originally drew me to the city is its wealth of murals, most of which marry architectural details with carefully crafted compositions.

Just off Praça Marques de Pombal stands this piece by Blu (Italy) and Os Gémeos (Brazil). The street artists were brought to Lisbon along with others from around the world as part of the 2010/2011 CRONO Project in an attempt to breathe new life into the city’s worn buildings. Click here to see a video of its creation.

Italy’s Erica Il Cane painted this kooky crocodile on an adjacent building, brightening its once wan front. After wandering around this neighborhood and heading up the hill on the right side of Hotel Fénix Lisboa, I stumbled upon a ton of camera-worthy designs. If only every city had this much personality.


After I met my boyfriend on a flight from Lisbon to Philly, I visited him in San Francisco where he was living at the time. On a sunny Saturday afternoon, he told me he had planned a surprise. He hailed a cab and asked the driver to bring us to Balmy Street. As we drove deeper into a seemingly rough neighborhood, I wondered what it could be.

He helped me out of the car, and held my hand as we approached the street sign. I turned and feasted my eyes on the most charming pedestrian street, covered top-to-bottom with graffiti. I looked at my guy as if he had given me a million dollars. It was the perfect gift, and so thoughtful; he’s not even into street art.

I think I’ll keep him.