In the late 30's of the 20th century the large passengers ships were still the preferred way to travel between the continents and even between some European countries. Lisbon needed bigger and more modern ship terminals and the decision is taken to built three large maritime terminals in the right margin of river Tagus. The first at Alcântara, the second at Rocha do Conde de Óbidos and a firth one, whose construction was cancelled, at Cais do Sodré.
The two ship terminals, designed by the Portuguese architect Porfirio Pardal Monteiro constitute good examples of modernist architecture and enclosed inside some of what have already been called Alameda Negreiro's master pieces. Both terminals have in their visitors rooms the most magnificent sets of murals, depicting scenes of Portuguese history, tradition and everyday life, created by de imagination and hand of Almada Negreiros.
The terminal at Alcântara presents two triptychs and two individual murals, result of fresco mural painting technic and surely reflecting some of the influences that the artist had while living and working in Paris. The richness of colors and shades, the firmness and almost geometric rigor of the trace express already some of the characteristics of the artist's future work.
The first triptych (picture above) displays the sentence: "Here comes the Nau Catrineta, which has much to tell" and is dedicated to the famous legend on Portuguese oral tradition that every children learns at an early age about a ship lost in the sea that finally find its way back to sore.
The second triptych named "Who has never seen Lisbon never saw a good thing" (1st photo on the article), is dedicated to the city, the Tagus and its boats, the working women and their labors.
The first individual mural is named "D. Fuas Roupinho, 1st Admiral of the Tagus fleet "and represents the famous Portuguese legend of Nazaré beach. The other mural, "Oh land where I was born", is an allegory to rural Portugal with its festivities.
The scale of the murals is impressive and is even more amazing to think that after a year and a half of preparation the eight frescoes were completed in just two months, while the artist had only one assistant who mixed the paints. Almada Negreiros executed the huge frescoes balanced on wooden scaffolding, completing small parts of the painting before the wall dried.
The room is magnificent with its marble floor and walls, and the immense glass windows granting a clear view of the river and the left bank, bridge and Cristo Rei included, on one side, and of Lisbon on the other side.
In my visit to Alcântara's Cruise Terminal I was guest to Fundação Caloust Gulbenkian and had the privilege to be guided by the curator of Almada Negreiros exhibition - A Way of Being Modern. You can also visited the works of Almada Negreiros, making an appointment beforehand (at least 2 working days). The visits are held from Monday to Friday, starting at 10:30 a.m. or 2:30 p.m., free of charges. The visits are preferably scheduled for groups (minimum 10 people) and individual requests can be joined to other groups already scheduled. For more information you must contact:
Divisão de Desenvolvimento e Relações Institucionais do Porto de Lisboa
Phone: +351 21 361 10 25