You may have seen my post a few months ago on the crafts fair at the Belém Cultural Center, but it isn’t the only place in Lisbon that combines a prime sight-seeing location with an opportunity to buy locally-made crafts goods. This time, I’m taking you into the city to the Jardim da Estrela to the Crafts & Design fair, which happens to be set in a lovely little park in front of one of the most famous churches in Lisbon, the Basilica da Estrela. (By the way, if you’re already feeling Christmassy, this basilica is also the home to the famous 500-piece nativity scene by Joaquim Machado de Castro.)
If you spend a lot of time on Pinterest or Etsy, you need to visit the Crafts & Design fair. You’re not always sure what you’ll find, but you’ll always find something for someone. The concept is simple: every first Saturday and Sunday of the month (January excepted), artisans line the paths of the park with their stands and showcase their work. Anyone can stop in to browse and buy these goods. This is just one of the reasons I tell people to leave plenty of space in their suitcase when they visit Portugal!
At the Crafts & Design fair, you can find anything from ornaments for your home to fashion accessories. I’ve found one-of-a-kind women’s tweed handbags*, stylish stationery, adorable baby clothes, retro signs and posters, and jewelry** in myriad styles. You can find men’s wallets, wool hats, and hand-made shoes made entirely of recycled materials***. At the Crafts & Design fair, you can buy items to jazz up your home, such as Portugal-themed sardine or yellow tram dish towels, or fun and quirky figurines made out of old ship parts****. I’ve even seen some incredible furniture made from dead tree trunks***** (I only wish I could’ve brought some back to the US with me).
Needless to say, it’s an excellent opportunity to buy truly unique souvenirs for friends and family back home. The sellers are so friendly, and besides, it’s a rare opportunity to actually interact with and ask questions to the person who created a piece that you’re buying… and how often does that happen in your life? Never! So take advantage of it.
Here are some of the brands I came across when I was there. Enjoy browsing through their sites.
*Handbags: Papoa Azul & Joana Candeias Handmade Bags
** Jewelry: Catarina Malva
***Vegetarian footwear made from recycled materials: Foot Zero
**** Figurines from recycled ship parts: Incógnita Atelier
*****Wood furniture and home goods: Magna Natura