Sentimental street art of Portugal

What do we think about people from sunny Portugal? Cheerful, easy-going Southerners? However, the vibrant street art in Portugal vividly portrays their dynamic personality in a totally different way. The excerpt from a piece by the Lisbon poet cited below also reveals the rather melancholic and introspective character of Portuguese individuals.

Álvaro de Campos
The tobacconist

I am nothing.
I shall always be nothing.
I can wish to be nothing.
That apart, I have in me all the
dreams of the world.

There is a word in Portuguese, which cannot be translated directly into any other language – saudade. If you have ever felt simultaneous longing for a past moment and gratefulness for what has happened to you, it was saudade. The feeling was accompanying discoverers who sailed away to look for new worlds. Families waiting for their return. Fado1 musicians from Alfama. Fernando Pessoa2 with his numerous personalities. Returning emigrants from the former colonies, who lost their estates. Victims of António de Oliveira Salazar’s regime3. The Portuguese sun outshines emotions, but saudade is written on the urban walls and doors in a very particular way. Therefore, the street art of Portugal reflects a not so obvious influence of history and subtle features of citizens’ characters, including a sense of longing, gratitude, dynamism, introspection, vibrancy, historical resilience, emotional depth, and cultural richness.

Graffitis’ text translations
  • Contento-me com pouco, mas desjo muito.
    A few things are making me content, but I desire a lot.
  • Abre los olhos.
    Open your eyes.
  • O Senhor, filho de Lisboa.
    Sir, son of Lisbon.
  • Quando for grande, quero ser feliz.
    When I grow up, I want to be happy.
  • Sozinhos vamos rapido, juntos vamos longe.
    Alone we go fast, together we go far.


1A genre of music called Portuguese Blues.
2One of the most prominent Portuguese poets, who used numerous pseudonyms.
3Portuguese statesman, Prime Minister, responsible for the New State (pt.Estado Novo) – an authoritarian government until 1974.