The 25th of April is very important for the portuguese people. In 1974, the army staged a coup against the dictatorship that was in power at the time, called Estado Novo, which had lasted for 50 years until, on the 25th, the people united and marched. It was a non-violent revolution, symbolized by the flowers they carried, the carnation, hence it being known as the Carnation Revolution.
25th of April is now a national Holiday and is celebrated nation-wide, and nowhere more so than in Lisbon. This is guide to the most interesting and must-see celebrations occurring in Lisbon during the 25th if you’re interested on learning more about portuguese history and celebrating freedom with the people of Lisbon!
Every year, people gather in Avenida da Liberdade and go down to the square of Rossio. This parade, which still gathers a lot of citizens today, and even if you’re not in the crowd, is still a marvel to see. Political parties join the parade to show the impact the date has on portuguese politics, but it is mostly a parade of the people, either the older generations, who lived it, or the younger, who honor and thank those involved. The parade usually starts early in the afternoon, around 3pm.
There’s also a crowd gathering event in central Lisbon, albeit a little different. At 10 am, in Jardim do Campo Grande, there’s a family fun freedom themed party! Which will contain all kinds of activities and shows. From music, to sports, to games and workshops, to bouncy castles! So I specially advise this if you’re traveling with children, but there are activities for adults too!
For a calmer event I also advise anyone to visit Lisbon’s Town Hall, near Terreiro do Paço. On this day the Hall will be open to all visitors to see this historical building, which contains art by many great and classical portuguese artists, like José Malhoa, or Columbano Bordalo Pinheiro. The doors open at 10am and the entry is free, go take a look!
For the musically inclined, there are two free concerts happening in Palácio Baldaya, in Benfica. At 3pm, Novas Vozes de Abril, a group of young men and women from the community, sing about revolution and freedom, and at 4pm, the singer Teresa Salgueiro will take the stage to sing originals and also interpret songs, from Amália Rodrigues and Zeca Afonso (among others) that are as much part of Lisbon as the revolution itself.
Last but not least, the Museu de Aljube, a museum entirely dedicated to the Revolution is having a lots of exhibitions. At 10am there’s Dias da Memória (Days of Memory), were people who know or had experiences with the dictatorship come and share them, it should be a very bold and emotional experience. At 5pm, there’s an exhibition celebrating José Dias Coelho, an artist and militant, who expressed his ideias and desires of freedom through his art, and was assassinated by the political police force, PIDE. And lastly, at 6pm, there’s Coragem hoje, abraços amanhã (Courage today, hugs tomorrow), a written exhibition composed of letters sent by women who were jailed and tortured by PIDE, but still prevailed to live another day.
There are lots of things Lisbon has to offer, but these were just my tips if you wish to send April 25th learning more about portuguese history or just celebrating freedom!
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