An interactive exhibit on the history of Lisbon is waiting to be discovered by tourists and locals alike. Millions of visitors flock to the Praça do Comércio square for its sheer size and beauty, and for some excellent photo opportunities. Some of them will have heard of the devastating events that took place there in 1755. But unless you’re Portuguese or a Portuguese history expert, you won’t be familiar the incredible story of this beautiful capital city: how it came to be, what events took place there, and how the city impacted people and places on the other side of the world. Lisboa Story Centre gives visitors a general overview of key events.
I bought a joint ticket to visit the Arco da Rua Augusta and Lisboa Story Centre for €8, and I recommend you do too as a combined ticket is cheaper than separate tickets for both sites. There’s no right or wrong order in which to visit the two attractions, and you don’t even have to visit them on the same day.
Lisboa Story Centre was a unique experience because it wasn’t a normal museum, which I had expected it to be before going in: it really was a story. When you walk in, you are given an audio guide which explains the various sections of the exhibit and detects where you’re standing as you go through. Each section represents a different period or specific event, and is displayed either through video, art, or larger than life installations.
The exhibit is family-friendly, especially as the narration is dotted with some light-hearted, childlike remarks – but all the while remaining informative and relevant. This aspect of the story center is definitely its greatest weakness or strength, depending on your perspective. Visitors looking for a serious, in-depth history of Lisbon should look elsewhere: some people feel it’s too childish. Those who want to learn a little bit of the history, especially when traveling with kids, will find that Lisboa Story Centre provides a good balance for the entire family. A word of caution to those who decide to take small children: the most interactive and immersive portion of the center relates to the earthquake of 1755. The video and audio during this scene may be too graphic or upsetting for small children and you will be in an enclosed room for this section, so please be aware of this when going in.
I’d like to finish off this post with a couple of tips for visiting Lisboa Story Centre… 1. The bathroom is available to use only while you’re inside the exhibit – once you’re out, you can’t go back in. 2. There aren’t many places to sit until the later parts of the exhibit, so if you’re tired of sightseeing, have a seat at one of the restaurants and café in the square before you enter the exhibit. That way, you’ll get to fully enjoy everything the hour-long tour has to offer without worrying about tired feet or a full bladder.
Have you been to Lisboa Story Centre? What did you think?