Fascinating, completely abandoned building with breathtaking view over the city. That’s the Monsanto panoramic restaurant.
Why to go: Once significant, now for more than a decade completely abandoned building, Restaurante Panorâmico de Monsanto is a place with special spirit. Nowadays, you can only guess by the well designed shape of walls and stairs how amazingly might have the interiors look like with decorations made by famous portuguese artists (some of the panels and other components still visible). The building is full of shattered glass, graffiti and also some trash, yet still offers truly extraordinary experience.
You can quite safely enter all the rooms (just be careful about not going to the elevator shaft!) and even the rooftop with amazing view over the whole Lisbon.
Note: There are actually two rooftops – one is easily accesible by the stairs, another one is on the top of the building. If you want to go there, be prepared for two things: 1) you will have to climb through the hole in the ceiling which is in about two metres height (yet it is no problem to get there if you push yourself against the walls) 2) there might be a lot of water on the top if it rained in the last days, so stay on the elevated circles on the roof and be extremely careful (there is no rail at all).
But the atmosphere is definitely not only about the rooftop – explore the whole area, notice for example the painted description of places which you can see from the room with 360° view, listen to the sound of water dripping from the ceilings and have a look to the underground area connected with the glasshouse nearby. There is a lot to see, just take your time and explore the whole place without rushing anywhere.
How to enter: Well, theoretically, it is prohibited to go inside the restaurant, since the police is guarding the building and the area around. So even though you decide to give it a try, be prepared for the possibility that there will be a guard and you won’t be able to enter.
But actually the guards are not there all the time and if you are lucky, you will be able to get inside through one of the holes in the fence (one is just to the right from the gate) and enjoy undisturbed stay allowing you to explore the whole building and its surroundings.
Hint: look if there is a green jeep parked somewhere near, since many explorers mention that the car is a clear sign of the guards presence – if it is not there, or even obviously civil cars of other travelers are parked in front of the gate, you probably can enter without anyone catching you.
Just remember to be very careful, wear good shoes (shattered glass is everywhere on the floor) and watch your steps. And of course – be highly respectful to the architecture and leave everything as it is. Keep the place in the same state for the others please.
How to get there: The Monsanto park is quite far from the city centre and very large, yet the restaurant is quite easily accessible by bus and few minutes of walking from the stop.
You can take the bus number 711 from Marqués de Pombal in direction Alto da Damaia (running approximately every 20 minutes) and go to the stop called Av. Tenente Martins. From there, turn right towards the communication tower, but then turn left twice and go around the military area following the road for about 500m – you will reach the building of the restaurant and its main gate in a few minutes.
Note 1: If you want to know more about history of this place, this page or this article provide some more information (yet they are only in portuguese, so you will probably have to use the Google translator). Interesting source is also this short TV report, mentioning possibilities of restoration of this place.
Note 2: If you liked this place, you will probably enjoy visiting another abandoned building in Portugal, Hotel Monte Palace, which is even bigger and is not guarded at all. However, you will have to travel to the Azores Islands to see it – which is not that complicated and totally worth it, see this post for more details :-)