Travel, Cities

Sidewalks as Art

Lisbon has sidewalks that might be in museums elsewhere

John Dean
2 min readJun 3, 2024

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Photo by the author.

There is little not to like in Portugal. History is everywhere. The people are friendly. The food is excellent. And even abandoned buildings look good. But what impressed me most was a sidewalk.

Many sidewalks in Lisbon are constructed with small cobblestones. But the sidewalk on the Avenida da Liberdade was special. It was a work of art. Black stones formed delightful designs in the middle of walkways.

The sidewalk made me smile. I stopped to look closely at the pattern, which was repeated for blocks. The sidewalk was wide. Street vendors offering leather goods, tiles, and other souvenirs lined the sidewalk for several hours during the day. I went back more than once.

My time in Lisbon was short, so on my last day in the city, as evening approached, I took a dozen photos of the sidewalk. More than one fellow tourist looked at me as if I was crazy, but the Portuguese just smiled. I like to think that they appreciated that a tourist was impressed with something they see and walk on every day.

Why don’t American cities imitate what the Portuguese are doing? A sidewalk worth visiting could be created for a small premium over simple concrete. Life in the city would become a bit more inviting. Maybe people would smile more.

Some American cities must have sidewalks like Lisbon’s, but I’m not familiar with them.

When I recall my recent trip to Portugal in ten years, I will remember the sidewalk on the Avenida de Liberdade. It wasn’t the best or most important thing I saw on the trip, but it may be the most memorable.

© Copyright 2024 by John Dean, all rights reserved.

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John Dean

Writing on politics, photography, nature, the environment, dogs, and, occasionally, humor. Editor of Dean’s List.