That Secret Place Everyone Talks About
There’s a secret place in town. The most popular and talked about secret place in the world.
Shared so many times over the years it has found its way to the blogs and social networks, the secret part gone a long time ago. Tourists flock to this abandoned restaurant in the middle of the biggest park in the city, and you half expect to find street food trucks parked outside, tattoo artists and barbers happily doing business in the premises. Weekends are busy days around here.
The Panorâmico opened it’s doors in the late sixties as a fancy restaurant (Portuguese only, sorry about that). According to this post, it later became a bingo parlor, an office and even served a stint as storage facility. Nowadays it’s a derelict building, a beautiful one, walls covered with graffiti, floors with broken glass and rubbish.
You should mind your step, there are elevator shafts that offer no protection, some on darker parts of the building, huge stairways and the whole of the outside with no guarding rails.
If you’re lucky and the police is not evicting people from what is, for all purposes, private property, you’ll be able to get inside through a hole in the fence, right next to the closed main door.
Both the City Police and the Park Rangers include the Panorâmico on their rounds, as well as the horse-riding GNR, although not as often.
Also don’t park in front of the door, as you’ll have the Air Force Police on your tail, you might be blocking an emergency exit they have next to it. The Air Force are the nicest, as they only come to ask you to move your car. We met a couple of them that showed real concern about us getting hurt, and offered Sintra and Cascais as viable alternatives for the foreigners: ‘Nicer photos over there.’
Once inside you’ll find a healthy mix of visitors: the tourists, the bloggers (both local and imported), skater kids doing GoPro videos and photographers. Tons of photographers. Pro, amateur and everything in between. Drones are a common sighting as well.
On one of our visits we even spotted a crew of Polish photographers, doing a photo shoot for a garment company. Lights, smoke bombs, the whole nine yards. How’s that for secret spot ?
Almost everyone you’ll find is, obviously, carrying some sort of camera. It is, after all, the nicest view in town. You’ll be able to spot the castle down below, and sea the river all the way to the ocean. There’s something for everyone. If you’re carrying nothing more than your smartphone you’ll have a blast; if you prefer a huge 300mm or 400mm lens you’ll also be glad you took it with you.
Finding it is not hard, but not that easy either. You can get close by public transit, but will have to walk the final stretch. Easier if you have a car (the hard part will be finding a place to park!), better by motorcycle, as the ride up through the Parque Florestal is a fun one.
If you’d rather take a virtual tour, or are not planning a trip to Lisbon any time soon, you’ll be happy to know that you can find a ton of videos on YouTube and it seems someone has already set up a page on Facebook too.