Situated on Monsanto’s highest mountain, the Panorâmico de Monsanto is a beautiful, deserted restaurant that has gained cult status over the years. This is the ideal place for urban exploring and taking beautiful pictures.
Panorâmico de Monsanto kind of reopened in 2017. It is no longer an abandoned restaurant, but lives up to its name: it is a belvedere, a vantage point.
All in all, it is still only the carcass of a building, a multi-storey concrete structure, with no interior whatsoever. But believe us, the atmosphere here is fantastic.
Panoramic Monsanto through the years
Chaves da Costa was responsible for the design, development and construction of the building. Initially it was Francisco Keil do Amaral, one of the most influential Portuguese architects of the 20th century, who was commissioned to build the restaurant on this hill, just outside the city of Lisbon.
Francisco Keil do Amaral is known for his involvement in the construction of Aeroporto Humberto Delgado, and the reclassification of the city’s green spaces such as Parque Eduardo VII, Campo Grande and Monsanto Park.
Because the municipality and Francisco Keil do Amaral couldn’t agree on the designs, plans and execution, Chaves da Costa was asked to take over.
The restaurant opened its doors for the first time in 1969. The restaurant covered more than seven thousand square meters with an almost 360 degree view over Lisbon and its surroundings. There was room for up to 600 people in the restaurant.
For many years Restaurante Panorâmico de Monsanto was the “pearl of the city”. But by the turn of the century things took a wrong turn. Mismanagement and financial troubles led to the abandonment of the restaurant.
The pearl of Lisbon became the disgrace of the city.
From 2001 the building was empty and was damaged by humans and the restaurant was destroyed. It was a dangerous place: broken glass, broken handrails and other demolished structures. There was also a lot of graffiti in and around the building.
The white elephant
Since the beginning of the century Panorâmico de Monsanto has been on the agenda of the local authorities. Many years have passed and no decision was made, because the costs proved to be too high (a refurbishment of the building would easily cost 20 million euros), and project developers and the local government did not agree on the plans. The panoramic restaurant became a much-discussed item in the local news and was lovingly named ‘the white elephant’ by the Lisboetas.
For a long time it was forbidden to visit the restaurant of Monsanto. The main reason was that it was too dangerous, with all the loose parts in the building.
Come and take a look
Up until 2019 no decision has been taken yet as to what will happen to the building. Early 2017 it was decided that Panorâmico de Monsanto needed to be made safe for visitors. Structures have been secured, banisters have been made and the glass and loose cables have been cleaned up.
These days it is even possible to organise festivals on the site and in the building.
Best view of the city
Many Lisboetas claim that this is the best view of Lisbon. It is located at the top of the mountain in the Monsanto park and has a 360º view of the city.
I certainly think it’s one of the most beautiful views I’ve seen in Lisbon. But the whole atmosphere of the area helps too. It starts when you enter the forest of Monsanto and drive into the parking lot of the remote building. But the magic really starts to happen when you enter the old restaurant.
The destroyed and broken constructions where you can clearly see the contours of what it once looked like. The many street art and graffiti on the walls and pillars. The bare floors and staircases.
When you take the spiral staircase to the 1st floor, it almost feels as if you’re back in the 70’s. Don’t forget to find the stairwell in the middle of the building that will take you to the viewpoint.
At the viewpoint you can discover the city from almost 360 degrees – if you consider that it used to have windows in it, this place was probably the most beautiful place to dine.
On the panels under the windows, azulejos indicate which characteristic buildings you can see – so that you can orientate yourself easily.
If you like a bit of adventure or like to do some urban exploration, then Monsanto is a must go. The apparent desolation of this complex contrasts so beautifully with the wide views of the city that you may wonder if you should take pictures of the building itself, with all its beautiful graffiti and street art, or from the beautiful view of the city of Lisbon.
Our tip: just bring an extra memory card and take them all!
Where to find Panorâmico de Monsanto
Address: Estrela da Bela Vista, Monsanto
Opening hours: every day from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.