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The vast exhibition area that was built for Expo '98 to the east of Lisbon has now become a popular attraction for those enjoying art and architecture, fine dining, shopping and leisure. A visit to the expansive and futuristic Parque das Nações is a welcome respite from the bustling city centre.
The 1998 World Fair attracted 11 million visitors to Lisbon. To accommodate a record number of 155 participating countries and organisations, a completely new city district was built on empty land along the Tagus River. After the Expo, the area was renamed Parque das Nações (Park of Nations) and transformed into a residential and business district with luxury hotels, award-winning restaurants, shopping malls, parks, a cable car and one of the world's largest aquariums. This is where old Lisbon shows its modern face.
During Expo '98, the Oceanário was already a top attraction and today it still continues to draw crowds. Europe's largest indoor aquarium features 30 basins with 7.5 million litres of salt water that are home to 15,000 creatures of 500 different species. Visitors can take a close-up look at the residents of the 7 seas: bright parrot fish from the Indian Ocean, striped catsharks from the Atlantic Ocean and playful sea otters from the Bering Sea. Since its inauguration, 16 million people have visited the Oceanário.
Art and architecture lovers will have plenty to enjoy at the Parque das Nações. Dozens of works of art are scattered around the area, such as the 20-metre-high 'Sun-Man' by Jorge Vieira and a cartoonish tile tableau by Erró. Most visitors arrive via the futuristic station designed by Santiago Calatrava. A magnificent hotel has been built right next to the iconic Torre Vasco da Gama and João Luís Carrilho da Graça's Pavilhão do Conhecimento (Pavilion of Knowledge) houses an interesting science museum.
Although the name suggests otherwise, Parque das Nações is not a big green city park though there is plenty of green space available. Next to the Oceanário lies the Jardins d’Água, a water garden with ponds, a splashing waterfall, walking trails and benches under the palm trees. Along the banks of the Tagus is the Jardim Garcia d’Orta, perfect for a picnic with a view of the river. The area’s largest park, Jardim do Passeio dos Heróis do Mar, can be found under the Ponte Vasco da Gama. From here ride the cable car back to the Jardins d’Água.
Jardim Garcia d’Orta, Lisbon, Portugal