A guide to serviced offices and office space to rent in Lisbon as well as general information that may be useful if you are thinking of renting office space in the city.
History & Geography
Lisbon is not only the capital of Portugal but one of the most iconic and popular cities in Europe. Situated in southwest Portugal on the mouth of the Tagus River, Lisbon is the westernmost capital city in mainland Europe and due to its physical setting, also one of the most idyllic. Most believe that Lisbon and its surrounding area were first settled by the Phoenicians and used as a trading post and base to provision their ships. However the first time the city is mentioned definitively is as a settlement in the Roman province of Lusitania, however at this point it was called Olissipo by the Romans. After the fall of the Roman Empire the city was ruled by varying Germanic tribes until 711 BCE when the city was captured by Muslim forces. Much of the Muslim influence can be seen in the city to this day, especially in the quarter of Alfama. In one of the most significant events in the history of the city, Lisbon was conquered in 1147 by Afonso I of Portugal. After this the city stayed in Christian hands and most of the Muslims expelled and mosques destroyed. During the Middle Ages the city grew and became and important trading post, and in 1255 became the new capital of the Portuguese territory. The 16th century was a golden age for Lisbon, as it benefitted from being a hub of trading between Europe, Africa, India and the Far East. In 1755 however the city was completely devastated by an earthquake and the resulting tsunami. Thousands were killed and vast sections of the city had to be completely rebuilt. The 19th century saw Lisbon expand and modernize on the back of industry and commerce, and despite being sacked by Napoleon Bonaparte, the city grew, as did its population. In the early 20th century Lisbon was the centre of the coup that formed the Portuguese Republic, and also founded its first university. The city was neutral during WWII and afterwards continued to be modernized, with many of its neighbourhoods undergoing significant renovation and reconstruction. Today the city is one of the most modern in Europe.
Perhaps unsurprisingly Lisbon and its surrounding region is the wealthiest in Portugal and produces 45 percent of Portugal’s GDP. The city has a strong knowledge and services economy as well as having an active sea port. Financial services are playing an increasingly important role in the economy of the city, as is the technology sector. Lisbon also functions as Portugal’s main media centre, and all country’s leading TV and radio networks and major newspapers are based in the city. The south bank of the Tagus River is Lisbon’s industrial zone and includes industries such as ship-building, steel, textiles and oil refineries. Despite Portugal’s tenuous financial position, Lisbon is planning several major construction projects in the next few years, such as a new airport, new bridge, and a major expansion of its subway system. Given its beauty, climate, history and architecture, Lisbon has also become one of the most popular cities in Europe for tourists, and tourism is rapidly becoming a major industry in the city.
Tourists come to Lisbon mainly for its ambiance and climate. Due to its southern geography, the city has cool, mild winters and sunny summers. Lisbon is also full of unique and inspiring architecture, making it ideal for wandering visitors. Tourists can see many schools, such as Romanesque, Gothic, Manueline, Baroque, Modern and Post-modern scattered about the city. Long, sweeping boulevards criss-cross the city and majestic squares are everywhere. Alfama is the oldest district of the city, and home to lots of Arab architecture and also pubs featuring the traditional Portuguese style of music, Fado. The heart of the city is the Baixa district, renowned for its shopping but also for the squares the Praca do Comercio and the Rossio. For those seeking nightlife the Alcantara district is full of pubs and discos, insulated from the rest of the city by a surrounding industrial quarter, they can be as loud as they please, and the area is popular with the youth of the city.
Lisbon has an extremely far-reaching and modern transportation network. Its main component is the Lisbon Metro, which connects the city centre with the upper and eastern districts and the outlying suburbs. An expansion project soon to get underway will connect it to the airport. A more traditional form of transport are Lisbon’s trams, called americanos by the Portuguese as they were first imported from America in the 19th century. A few of these can still be seen trundling around Lisbon’s streets, though they are mainly used by tourists. To cross the Tagus River, one can use the ferry, which operates from several different points and is also a popular trip with tourists. For air transport, Lisbon relies on the Portela Airport, which is located within the city limits and connects Lisbon to major cities in Europe, the US and Africa.
Portugal’s economy has been one of the hardest hit in Europe by the economic crisis and the recession that has followed. Though the country received a bail-out, the government has warned that tough austerity measures will be put in place for the next few years in order to reduce the country’s deficit. Meanwhile its unemployment rate has crept to over ten percent for the first time in eight years. According to CB Richard Ellis the average supply of new office space in Lisbon over the past six years was around 74,000 square metres. Despite the country’s economic plight, in 2011 14 new projects, totaling over 100,000 square metres of office space were completed. Last year also saw demand for office space rise by 44 percent on the 2009 figure. However demand is still fairly low, which has put a downward pressure on rents and resulted in incentives like free rent period. Lisbon’s central business district (CBD) still has the largest supply of office space. The CBD had a vacancy rate of three percent at the end of 2012. Average rent in the CBD is currently EUR 17 per square metre per month. Currently the Western Corridor of the city and the Parque das Nacoes have the most office space available and have seen the construction of major office developments recently.