Conference venue

About the conference venue

The conference venue will be the Padrão dos Descobrimentos in the riverside neighborhood of Belém.

The padrão. Image courtesy of EGEAC

The padrão was originally an ephemeral monument designed by José Cottinelli Telmo for the 1941 Portuguese World Exhibition to celebrate empire and Salazar’s fascist dictatorship (1926-1974). It represents a ship and a number of historical figures revered by the dictatorship’s establishment. In 1960 was rebuilt in its current form to commemorate Henry the Navigator, the main figure in the monument. Apartheid South Africa bequeathed the decorative compass that can be seen outside. It became an iconic site on Lisbon’s riverside, but not an uncontested one.

In recent years, many people started challenging the narratives that dominate Portugal’s public sphere and depict the country’s imperial and dictatorial histories as exceptionally tolerant, almost benevolent. Many monuments have been at the center of timely discussions about colonial legacies in the public space, and the padrão became the subject of critical interventions by artists such as Kiluanji Kia Henda and Isabel Brison. More recently, an anonymous activist and artist graffitied one side of the monument. For some, including a member of parliament, the structure should be entirely removed.

The conference venue – Padrão dos Descobrimentos – right after the intervention of an anonymous artist and activist in August 2018. Courtesy of Patrícia Martins Marcos

The padrão is currently managed by the Municipality of Lisbon through EGEAC-Empresa de Equipamentos e Animação Cultural. Its administration has welcomed events aimed at discussing the city’s difficult histories, as well as its imperial monumentality. EGEAC has kindly offered to host our event in the padrão‘s small auditorium.

Auditorium in the padrão‘s interior. Image courtesy of EGEAC

The venue and its location will be the ideal spot for this CHAT conference, encouraging participants to reflect on the legacies of modern empires in archaeological practice, urban landscapes, and in museum collections. Participants will have the chance to visit the monumental area of Belém and have easy access to Lisbon’s city center and Cascais’ seaside.


The padrão is accessible by public transportation (train, tram, bus) from Lisbon’s city center (30 minutes) and Lisbon’s international airport (1 hour).

Click here to open Google Maps and calculate distances.