Lisbon’s historic soul is under threat from spiraling property prices and an influx of tourists. The city council initiative „Shops with History” is fighting to preserve traditional stores at risk of closure because of the real estate boom.
Local historian and city council employee Sofia Tempero heads one of the teams set up by the council to save old stores – which she calls the city’s living memory. „I shop where my grandmother used to shop – for hand-made soap, tailor-made gloves… you can have dolls repaired here or have an iron door knob made according to an old design,” she says.
Store owners have to meet rigorous requirements, if they want their shop to be identified as a „Shops with History”, or „Loja com Historía” – a label that protects store owners from eviction. The regulations mean that Tempero cannot save all of the shops under threat even if she would like to. In her work, she has come across some real treasures: a pharmacies that concocts perfumes according to client wishes, corner store owners who know what type of coffee blends their customers prefer and workshops tucked away in back alley that weave ribbons of all kinds to order.
Many of these shops have been around for over a century. They are more than just businesses. In many of the city’s historic districts they are meeting places for the locals. But many locals are also being forced to move out. The rising numbers of tourists have brought prosperity, but they have also fueled international property speculation. It’s a race against time for Sofia Temprero and the historic shops initiative.
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