Panorâmico de Monsanto, Lisbon’s Derelict Restaurant

The decrepit Panorâmico de Monsanto restaurant in its current state

photography by: Vitor Oliveira/ Wikimedia Commons

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With an ever-growing culinary scene, the Portuguese capital prides itself as a foodie destination, boasting hundreds of world-class eateries that cater to locals and tourists alike. Nevertheless, restaurants come and go, and so, even the best of intentions can sometimes end up as shattered dreams. Perching atop the city’s largest park, Panorâmico de Monsanto formerly served as an exclusive dining place for the well-heeled, yet few decades later, the restaurant was abandoned and soon thereafter, turned into a large-scale canvas for graffiti artists, complemented by the sweeping views of Lisbon.

Spanning across the Monsanto Hills, Monsanto Forest Park (Parque Florestal de Monsanto) is by far the largest green lung throughout the Portuguese capital, making it a popular getaway among Lisbonites. This forested enclave is crisscrossed by multiple hiking trails with gobs of recreational facilities in between, yet it is a single dilapidated structure that really sets this park apart from its citywide counterparts.


Tucked away on a secluded glade, Panorâmico de Monsanto is a former restaurant whose decaying premises has been claimed by the elements and taggers for the last two decades or so. The UFO-like building was first designed in the 1930’s by illustrious architect Keil do Amaral, who due to disagreements with the city council, was dismissed and subsequently replaced by Chaves Costa.


After years of deferments, construction works finally started in 1964 and were completed three years later. Inaugurated in 1970 to a fanfare of enthusiasm, the oddly-shaped restaurant was the to-go place for the city’s wealthy elite. In its heyday, the dinning complex also comprised of a banquet hall, a café terrace and a viewing platform, something that made it a prominent spot across the verdant park.


To contrast its hyper-modern architecture which is naturally devoid of decorative elements, the concrete edifice was adorned with a sumptuous décor, including a plethora of eye-catching artworks and ornaments. Among them were panels depicting 18th century Lisbon by Manuela Ribeiro Soares, a granite relief by Maria Teresa Quirino da Fonseca and ceramic tiles by Manuela Madureira, to name just a few.


Despite its hefty price-tag and promising start, the place’s days of glory were short lived. It’s not entirely clear what went amiss, but a few years after its celebrated opening, the restaurant ceased operations. In the decades that followed, the building served as a bingo hall, office space for a local filmmaking firm, nightclub and a storehouse, before being completely abandoned in 2001.


Since then, the property fell into a state of disrepair, becoming increasingly tattered with every day that passes. The dilapidated building wasn’t left unvisited, though, as graffiti artists and urban explorers regularly frequented its five floors, with the former of whom leaving a treasure trove of street art in their wake.


Due to safety concerns, local authorities eventually took over the place, renovating its hazard-ridden structure while leaving most of the vivid murals intact. Panoramico de Monsanto was reopened in 2017 as a public lookout, where visitors can marvel not only at the copious graffiti paintings, but also at the 270° breathtaking panorama of Lisbon’s metropolitan area.


Take note that the fenced complex closes intermittently for refurbishments, therefore, it’s widely recommended to check in advance whether the lookout is currently open for visitors.