May 19, 1998. Tuesday. On this day, Gare do Oriente was inaugurated, a structure integrated in Expo-98, whose official opening would take place on the following Friday, May 22nd. Designed by the Spanish architect and engineer Santiago Calatrava and also known as GIL (Gare Intermodal de Lisboa), it was conceived as a fundamental piece in the context of the World Exhibition, the main entrance and exit door. An organic building, “with a human vocation”, in his own words, formed by “a structure of metallic elements similar to a forest”. Unlike other stations around the world, it was designed so that the interior and exterior are in permanent contact — in order to facilitate a direct connection for passengers with the city and, above all, the river.
Just over two months away from completing 25 years, this interface that integrates long-distance and suburban rail transport, the metro line and a bus station, continues to be a fundamental structure in the city. And in the country. It is the largest transport hub in Portugal, through which around 10 million people pass each year.
It is known, however, that this was not always a consensual work, considered by many passengers as too windy and cold, especially in winter — designed more for photography and for the prizes and, in a way, forgetting the comfort of users. Paula Azevedo (an architect by training, from the Historical and Cultural department of the IP Heritage, an IP Group company and the station’s management entity) promises not to shy away from any of these themes — she is also one of those responsible for guided tours to Rossio, Cais do Sodré, Santa Apolónia, Alcântara stations and the railway districts of Entroncamento, in district of Santarem. “We’ll talk a little bit about everything. About the architecture, the awards, the functions and role it plays and the future of high speed. And we will also respond to the questions and curiosities of the participants”, she assures.
The tour will take place on Saturday morning, March 4th, between 10am and 1pm, with the meeting point at 10am, next to the main door of Vasco da Gama — Avenida Dom João II. The number of participants is limited to 25 people and registrations must be made via email [email protected] – subject “Visita à Gare do Oriente”.
Remember that Arteria is a community journalism project – and therefore lives off volunteers. Anyone interested in taking part in this project and telling stories about their Lisbon can send an email to [email protected], stating how they intend to make their contribution. All emails will be answered.