LX Factory is one of those places that you hug to yourself like a new found treasure. And it’s a treasure that keeps on giving. There are so many nooks and crannies that you’re bound to stumble on a new find each time you visit – anything from an atelier tucked away in a tiny studio to a new favourite vinyl stall at the flea market that pops up every Sunday.
To find it you need to head to Alcântara. Take a cab or tuk tuk from Lumi which should take about twenty minutes. Be aware though that you might get some strange looks if you ask for ‘LX Factory’ – it’s actually pronounced L ‘Sheesh’ in Portuguese – you have been warned! Alternatively jump on a train at Cais do Sodré and it’s only two stops to Alcântara.
And what is LX Factory? Long story short, it’s a near perfect illustration of what happens when you give free rein to the creatives! At the turn of the century there was little more here than an old derelict textile factory (and more recently print works) – along with the associated workers houses, school and canteen. The whole lot was earmarked for demolition but at the eleventh hour a private investor stepped in. He had come up with a plan that, while relatively simple, was pretty ground breaking at the time. The plan was this; to maintain the authenticity of the site by letting the space speak for itself. In other words, no demolition and no whitewash – just a healthy respect for the industrial heritage of the buildings. Lisboeta creatives were invited in; designers, architects, photographers, musicians, artists, fashionistas, writers – you name it – essentially anyone who had been struggling to find a working space elsewhere in Lisbon. At LX they were offered the luxury of creative space for relatively low rent.
The result has been astonishing. Today there are upwards of 200 designers and artists that have set up shop alongside a clutch of fantastic cafés and restaurants. The old factory walls are decorated with band flyers and posters and an eclectic mix of urban street art including Portuguese artist Bordalo II’s iconic giant bee sculpture.
Nowadays LX Factory is considered one of the coolest spots in town. It’s where you go to discover that special piece that you might struggle to find elsewhere; hand made jewellery perhaps (Bergue & Co is one of our faves) or vintage clothing and furniture alongside cool contemporary alternatives.
There is even a book store which is considered one of the 10 most beautiful in the world; it’s called ‘Ler Devagar’ (Read Slowly) and occupies – with inimitable style – one of the old print workshops.
And every Sunday it’s easy to while away a few hours rummaging through the fab flea market…
To eat, you’re spoilt for choice. Feast on pizza at AMesa (The Table) where everyone sits at the one long table that dominates the room. Or head to Cantina (the original workers’ canteen) or 1300 Taberna for authentic Portuguese food in an uber trendy setting, or to Mez Cais for Mexican (and an obligatory tequila or two), and to Landeau Chocolate for quite possible the best chocolate cake in the world! There are LOTS more – too many to mention here – let us know which are your favourites.
And for the best spot to enjoy a sundowner, look no further than Brazilian restaurant Rio Maravilha. Take the rickety lift to the top floor and make a beeline for their stunning roof terrace.
Here in the company of a colourful statue of a woman (something of a Lisbon landmark) you can relax and enjoy the superb views across the Tagus to the most famous Lisbon statue of them all – the magnificent Cristo Rei. Cheers!