architecture in Portugal

Mediterranean Escape

At OLIVA, our love for design is only surpassed by our passion for travel and exploring great works around the globe. While many of us are hard at work making plans for the upcoming travel season, here are some favorites to inspire your globetrotting, including some noteworthy sights along the Mediterranean region. We don’t blame you if you might want to skip Paris, Stockholm, Milan, London, and Berlin for these lesser-known but completely underrated destinations where design thrives and culture abounds in the streets.


Lisbon, Portugal

The city of Lisbon in Portugal hosts the Museum of Art, Architecture, and Technology (MAAT.) Here you will find stunning displays of the best works from contemporary artists and architects today. Another great spot to visit is the Oriente Station, a train station designed by Santiago Calatrava for the 1998 World Expo in Lisbon. Its roof built using glass and metal, Gothic-inspired arches, and cylindrical elevators made of glass make a sight for architecture lovers world over. Meanwhile, the Lisbon Cruise Port is unlike any old cruise terminal. It’s a renowned model of sustainable architecture built using cork and concrete. Being raised from the ground gives the impression of a floating building, and a rooftop terrace allows visitors to enjoy beautiful views of Lisbon and the river. Architect architect João Luís Carrilho da Graça even included a path round the terminal. It was designed to be enjoyed.



Malaga, Spain

As some movie fans may know, Malaga is the hometown of actor Antonio Banderas, and he took over the Soho Theatre in 2019. The 840-seater theatre is a great place to witness local performing artists at work. Enjoy the acoustics and works of local artists. Also, Muelle Uno is more than just a place to eat and shop at the port. While the shopping is good, it also hosts a branch of the Paris museum called Centre Pompidou Malaga. The museum is inside a striking colorful glass cube. It contains an impressive collection of contemporary art from the 20th and 21st centuries. You may also witness a cultural event or festival at Muelle Uno. Last but not least, Malaga’s museum reopened five years ago. The Museum of Malaga is a treasure stove of historical artifacts and art pieces of Andalucia from Paleolithic times to the 20th century.



Venice, Italy

Fondaco dei Tedeschi has been a Venice landmark since the 13th century and with good reason. It has undergone multiple restorations after burning. It is now a place to shop for high-end goods and attend cultural events. Walk in the public spaces, enjoy the glass floor on the rooftop, and visit the piazza in the courtyard… not to me missed! Another fantastic sight is the Ponte della Costituzione (Constitution Bridge). The steel, concrete, glass, and bronze structure looks like a whale’s backbone and is longer than the Rialto Bridge. For lovers of architecture history, the Punta della Dogana is a 17th-century customs house designed by Giuseppe Benoni. It was abandoned for twenty years before Tadao Ando renovated it. It now hosts contemporary art exhibitions that beautifully bridge the gap in time.


Athens, Greece

Greece, once at the epicenter of world culture, still hosts location for design lovers that transcend history and stimulate the senses. For one, the Benaki Museum hosts exhibitions that showcase design, photography, and architecture. The building itself is just as fascinating as the attractions inside. High ceilings, brick and glass façade, and a pleasant atrium make it a work of art. The Onassis Stegi Cultural Center is a cube made of glass and hosts theater shows in addition to dance and music events. The Greek marble sits on a glass base and facades that could be opaque or transparent depending on your perspective.


What’s your favorite? Share your pics of your favorite travel destinations by tagging @spacesbyoliva

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