The Centro Cultural de Belém is a space located in the district of Santa Maria de Belém, Lisbon. This centre is the largest building of its kind in Portugal to offer a range of cultural experiences and authentic Lisbon events.
The site is spread over an area of 140,000 m2 with construction beginning in 1989! The site was initiated by the Portuguese government under the CCB’s suggestion that a place was needed to host the works of Portugal’s European Union Presidency. Italian architect Vittorio Gregotti and Portuguese architect Manuel Salgado were commissioned to design the center.
The Performing Arts facility inside the Centre is the core of this space. It has two auditoriums; the larger having a capacity of 1430 seats and the smaller a capacity of 350. If this was not enough, there is also a rehearsal hall accommodating 72 people. The Performing Arts Centre hosts a variety of programs, including experimental jazz, ballet, plays, and performances by the Portuguese Chamber Orchestra. It makes for a perfect space for both indoor and outdoor cultural Lisbon events!
I visited the center with a chum in the summer of 2019. We had not meant to visit but were drawn toward the impressive structure and the small passageways cut between the buildings gave the impression of entering some ancient pyramid or suchlike. It really is an awe-inspiring place and somehow the architects have very cleverly managed to create a both enormous yet intimate space whereby you cannot help feel a little humbled.
The center is obviously complete with a couple of cafes and restaurants for you to take a rest from all the art and culture! Well worth the short visit from lisbon, even if you do not plan to see any performances.
Apart from Centro Cultural de Belém, there exist a host of other expos, centres and venues that will offer their own particular types of Lisbon events!
- Altice Arena: The Altice Arena, formerly known as the MEO Arena and referred to as Pavilhão Atlântico in Portuguese, is a multipurpose indoor arena and the largest in Lisbon. Built in 1998 for Expo ‘98 of Lisbon, the arena has the capacity to accommodate 20,000 people.
- Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation: Also known as the Gulbenkian Foundation and Fundacao Calouste Gulbenkian in Portuguese, it is an institution established in Lisbon to promote and develop science, arts, music, and education. Established in 1956, it is one of the richest foundations in the world that feature the performing arts and science under one roof. The headquarters has an auditorium inside its premises where the Gulbenkian orchestra, ballet, and choir performs regularly along with other outside troupes!
- Teatro Nacional de São Carlos: Teatro Nacional de São Carlos, known as the National Theatre of Saint Charles, is an opera house in Lisbon. Located in Lisbon’s historical centre, the Chiado district, this opera house is one of the oldest theatres in Lisbon. The present opera house is a replacement and was inaugurated by Queen Maria I in 1793 after the previous opera house – The Tejo Opera House – was completely destroyed in the 1755 Lisbon Earthquake.
- Other superb offerings and attractions around Lisbon!