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Lisbon, like many cities around the world, has old industrial areas that are disused. LX Factory, a formerly abandoned factory in Lisbon, is a showcase for what a city can do to breathe new life into an industrial space. What was once an old factory is now an entertainment and shopping complex that retains its historic charm while bringing the community together in Lisbon.
A visit to LX Factory in Lisbon, Portugal
LX Factory is located in the hipster neighborhood of Alcântara. It’s west of central Lisbon, right near the Ponte de 25 Abril. It can be easily accessed by tram, bus, or train. I did not do this. I decided to walk there by following the waterfront instead. At the present time, I can’t recommend walking to LX Factory. While Lisbon may be revitalizing the area around LX Factory, other areas have not been as lucky as of yet. The walk wasn’t unsafe, but there was nothing of note the entire way. Lisbon’s waterfront is still being used for industrial purposes or for nothing at all. Unfortunately there is a lack of waterfront cafes, bars, parks, or even a decent walking path other than sidewalks.
At least the area around LX Factory is starting to see redevelopment. When I was there, many of the nearby streets were being rebuilt. Several museums are nearby, including a transit museum and an Asian art museum. There were many new shops & restaurants that looked brand new, but in buildings that had clearly been revived. When you have such a large draw as LX Factory, it’s inevitable that the rest of the neighborhood will see a positive impact.
As for LX Factory itself, I was immediately impressed as I walked onto the grounds. Rather than being just a single building, it’s an entire complex that fills multiple floors in several buildings, as well as outside patios and green spaces. The factory was originally built in 1846 by Companhia de Fiação e Tecidos Lisbonense, a thread & fabric company.
LX Factory has a little bit of everything. It really is a neighborhood unto itself. It has plenty of bars and restaurants, but it also has bakeries, clothing shops, bookstores, artisanal products, co-working spaces, design centers, service companies, and more. There is even a hostel. If you can think of a hipster-type business, LX Factory has it. Well, everything except for one. I was surprised that there was not yet a brewery or distillery at LX Factory, at least not as of my visit in June 2017.
If you’re looking for gifts to bring back home, there is a shop at the far end of the main street of LX Factory that sells local goods such as wine, sardines, and crafts.
There is also a ton of artwork on various walls all over the complex.
One thing to be careful about is that the grounds of LX Factory are still open to traffic. It was unfortunate that the area wasn’t entirely closed off, but there were businesses that required vehicle access.
I did a full loop of the complex, checking out everything that was open, as well as all of the art scattered throughout. Places like LX Factory require a bit of patience to walk through, as they are good for buying snacks, and you don’t want to miss out on something you may have wanted more. It was a Monday afternoon, so LX Factory wasn’t very crowded. They are much busier on weekends, especially when there are events going on such as the Sunday flea market.
After walking around all of LX Factory, I stopped at a restaurant & bar called A Praça that had a nice patio. It was a warm day, so I had a sangria. It was served in a glass the size of a swimming pool. I relaxed for a while on the patio, then headed back to central Lisbon.
I enjoy seeking out places like LX Factory when I travel. They tend to have a creative energy to them; filled with young people who are creating things. The businesses are unique local spots run by people who are passionate about what they are doing. LX Factory is a vital symbol of the direction Lisbon is moving in the future.