Parque das Nações – A Leisure, Commercial and Residential Area in Lisbon:
On the eastern side of Lisbon sits Parque das Nações (Park of the Nations), a waterfront area whose modern structures contrast spectacularly to the city’s old quarters. Seeing Parque das Nações today, one would not suspect that this area was once an eyesore.
Parque das Nações
An oil refinery, a seaplane terminal and other downtrodden structures dotted the wharf. But with the selection of the area for the Expo ’98, a World Fair hosting 130 countries, the entire area underwent a massive transformation, giving Parque das Nações a futuristic look.
Parque das Nações was so named after Expo ’98, but locals still do refer to it as ‘Expo’. These days, Parque das Nações is more than just a leisure zone. Since Expo ’98, there have been further developments and the Park of the Nations is now a commercial and residential area as well. With some 15,000 people living in the area, the amenities here include the Vasco da Gama shopping mall, hotels, a casino, theatre, restaurants, banking facilities, transportation hub, etc. The Parque das Nações website directory lists some 149 restaurants, cafes, gelatarias and other eateries.
Things to See and Do
Today, visitors from all over the world marvel at the new sights and sounds of Lisbon’s Parque das Nações. If you manage not to be lured by the Vasco da Gama Shopping Centre or the Lisbon Casino, attractions to explore include the Oceanarium (the largest in Europe), the Vasco da Gama Tower and Bridge, the Oriente Station, the interactive Science Museum and any of the hundred other fun things to see and do on Lisbon’s shoreline.
One entrance to the area is via the famed cable-stayed bridge, one of the world’s longest: the Vasco da Gama Bridge. At nearly 17 km, it is an engineering marvel. Nearby are lovely gardens where visitors can rest and admire the view before heading off to some of the other sights.
Capping off this area is the Vasco da Gama Tower which rises some 175 m into the air. Visitors who are not averse to heights can have a meal in the restaurant here, then proceed onto the Parque. However, if the idea makes you queasy, fear not – there are plenty of restaurants and cafes throughout the area.
If all the activities become a little exhausting, it is possible to tour the area on a mini train that passes by the main attractions every twenty minutes. Alternatively, take a ride on the cable car which gives commanding views of Parque das Nações. The cable car runs parallel to the river along the full length of the site.
In between activities, you can always stop for a breather and a little liquid refreshment at one of the Parque das Nações fine bars. The conversation is always lively and the views are spectacular.
For those who like to make the Parque das Nações a base for their Lisbon holiday, the following hotels are in the Park of the Nations area: Olissippo Oriente, Tivoli Oriente Lisboa, Tryp Oriente, Vip Executive Art’s.
The easiest and most convenient way to reach the park is on the metro. Hop on the Red line and exit at “Oriente” station which is the last stop. The station itself is a sight worth seeing, with a variety of murals and contemporary artwork on display.
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