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Portuguese Streets - Bica de Duarte Belo, Lisbon

Portuguese Streets - Bica de Duarte Belo, Lisbon

December 2019 · 4 min read


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Bica de Duarte Belo

Rua da Bica de Duarte Belo is undoubtedly one of the main candidates for the most beautiful street title in Lisbon. Recently, it was even considered to be one of the most beautiful streets in the world by a reputed international site dedicated to tourism.

It's worth knowing a little more about "Rua da Bica" and discover one of the most genuine and picturesque streets of Lisbon, still with much of Lisbon's charm in its buildings, in its houses, on the verandahs of its balconies.


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Bica de Duarte Belo

The most photographed street in Lisbon is probably Rua da Bica de Duarte Belo. It is in the historic and picturesque neighborhood of Bica, one of the most typical neighborhoods of the city, known for its small bars and above all for the emblematic lift that runs through it. Constantly photographed by tourists, the lift goes up and down the hill since 1892.


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Bica de Duarte Belo

The small neighborhood, between Bairro Alto and Cais do Sodré, is made up of a set of sidewalks and staircases, originating in 1597, after a landslide. The land belonged to an influential Jew, with links to King John II, and was first inhabited by fishermen and fishmongers.

The name derives from a spout, although there are several, built in the 17th century and owned by Duarte Belo, a merchant. The spouts and fountains were usually meeting places, filling the neighborhood with life.


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Bica de Duarte Belo

Little affected by the 1755 earthquake, Bica offers a beautiful view of the Tagus, and maintains the colorful buildings of the 17th and 18th centuries, many of them always with open doors and balconies with flower pots and clothes on the clotheslines.

Bairro da Bica is a smaller neighborhood than all the others. And so for a long time it was as if it didn't exist, it was forgotten. Unlike Alfama, which was a neighborhood elected by Lisbon intellectuals as a symbol of their city.


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Bica de Duarte Belo

Alfama was already valued in the late nineteenth century while the neighborhood of Bica only gained visibility after the 1950s. Unlike other popular neighborhoods, Bica, has no legends, nor type characters or striking facts of its history. Bica imposed itself through a systematic publicity of its image, its creativity, its desire for affirmation.


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Bica de Duarte Belo

The past and memories of the neighborhood are part of the daily life of the neighborhood. Bica was very marked by Salazarism, which, in a way, helped to advertise the neighborhood, mainly through popular marches.


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Bica de Duarte Belo

Bica has changed a lot from before to now. Visitors to the neighborhood of Bica can see that the street where the elevator passes is already full of bars.

This gave rise to the birth of an intense leisure and nightlife area. Not only in Bica but throughout Cais do Sodré. This makes the social groups, urban functions and contrasting experiences alternate in the same space.


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Bica de Duarte Belo

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The Bica Lift was designed by Portuguese engineer Raoul Mesnier du Ponsard, who was also responsible for numerous similar projects, and was inaugurated on June 28, 1892. It was initially driven by the water balance system the descent filled a water tank on the roof, with the force resulting from this extra weight, coupled with the gravitational force of the inclined plane, towing the ascent car and the tramway-cab system. In 1896 it began to move by steam and, later, in 1914 it was electrified. That same year had an accident and was stationary for nine years.


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Bica de Duarte Belo

With more than a century of existence, it is the most typical lift in the city of Lisbon and, although it does not have the same affluence as the Elevator of Glory, it is nowadays one of the main tourist attractions of the Portuguese capital.


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Bica de Duarte Belo

In 2010 the Elevator da Bica was intervened by the plastic artist Alexandre Farto, who covered the yellow surface with a reflective opaque metallic film, under the Carris project "Arte em Movimento", part of a program of Support for Portuguese Contemporary Art. This installation remained patent until the end of June 2010. A similar initiative covered in 2013 the surface of the booths with a pattern illustrating the Portuguese sidewalk.

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Bica de Duarte Belo


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