Of course Lisbon has its own Chinatown; this has always been a global city!
Even before the Age of Discoveries, Portugal was an important entry point for goods traded along the routes in North Africa. Once Vasco de Gama “opened” the sea routes to the East, spices, silks and cultural influences flowed into the Portuguese capital. More recently, immigrants from the former colonies in Africa, Macau and Goa have continued the cultural exchange.
And much of that exchange happens in and around the Martim Moniz square.
Named after a hero of the 1147 Seige of Lisbon, the Praça Martim Moniz is just north-west of the better known Rossio and the Praça da Figueira. Multiple fountains cool the square in the summer. The Pena neighbourhood shades it to the west, while the Alfama and the Castelo São Jorge watch over it from the east. This is also the starting point for the iconic (if somewhat overrated) Tram 28.
The shopping centers on either side of the praça Martim Moniz are packed with Chinese stores, ethnic grocers and restaurants. Wholesale merchandise is still traded in the alleyways and parking garages. A whole rainbow of people relax in and around the square, enjoying the sun and the snack kiosks the city installed. Background music plays around the fountains during the day and in the summer there are concerts at night.
In recent years, the area has gained a further reputation as Lisbon’s Little Chinatown. Among the highlights are the family-run “Illegal” Chinese Restaurants operating on the backstreets along the square (they’re not really illegal, just secretive and small).
So whether you’re looking for authentic Chinese food, ethnic spices for your favorite dish, or just a place to relax in the sun, Lisbon’s little Chinatown in Martim Moniz is the best place to find it.
…Oh, and the square still boasts the best fountain in the city for summer fun!