What is this?


I know there are a few Lisboa natives reading this blog…can anyone tell me what this sculpture is supposed to be? It’s on the river path, directly beneath the 25 de Abril bridge. From a side view it looks a bit like a whale, but from underneath it seems more like a giant manta ray, except that the tail is all wrong. I checked around it for any identifying signage, but there was nothing. (Except for three battered overseas shipping containers stacked atop each other, the bottom of which was open, and which had a mirror on the inside of the door and the back wall. What the heck was that?)

Anyway, it’s a mystery at the moment, though the sculpture itself is awesome. I like the way the open girder design reflects the bridge above it, and when you’re right under it, you can’t help but admire the sheer size and construction. Must have been a blast to build.

About Fletcher DeLancey

Socialist heathen and Mac-using author of the Chronicles of Alsea, who enjoys pondering science, politics, well-honed satire (though sarcastic humor can work, too) and all things geeky.
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9 Responses to What is this?

  1. chase cameron says:

    I don’t know, of course, being snowbound in Southern Ontario, Canada, but it’s beautiful. Something to do with a memorial for those lost on the sea over time? Or just a maritime monument?
    Let me know when you know Fletcher. it’s very nice.

  2. Marta says:

    Here you go:

    http://cidadanialx.blogspot.com/2006/04/pala-da-doca-de-santo-amaro-pode-ser.html (it’s called Pala das Docas de Alcântara, if you want to search any further)

    I always thought it was nothing more than a huge sun umbrella… 🙂

  3. Ana_ñ says:

    I am now even more curious because I did not understand in the link provided by Marta if it is a decorative element or if it has some other purpose (closer picture: http://coisas-de-tia.blogspot.com/search/label/Pala%20da%20Doca%20de%20Santo%20Amaro)

    It seems that your hand is better, Chase, or else you have become proficient in typing one-handed (I hope is the first case)

    Please, Oregon Expat, solve this mystery.

  4. Sónia@Rome says:

    It is just a very expensive unfinished business that sooner or later someone will tear down!

  5. oregon expat says:

    Marta, thanks for the information and esp. the links. I’m still trying to figure out a translation for “pala,” which my dictionary helpfully says can mean blade, shield, blinkers, blinders, or the peak of a cap. Given the fact that it was supposed to protect pedestrians from objects falling from the bridge, I’ll go for “shield.” But there’s one problem with that: the river path goes around the pala, not underneath it! Also, what happened to the landscaping, which right now consists of a uniform layer of rocks? And the supposed restaurant is nowhere to be seen…unless those three stacked commercial shipping containers are going to be housing an unusual themed restaurant in the future.

    Broken civic promises suck, but are an unfortunate fact of life no matter where one lives. Personally, I think it would be a shame to tear down the pala — it succeeds as urban art if nothing else, and makes an arresting sight for people like me who are exploring the river path for the first time. Lisboa just needs to landscape it, put up a sign highlighting its design and construction, and then publicize it abroad as an “iconic emblem of the city.” See how that works? 😉

  6. Marta says:

    I’d say the most true translation for pala is the peak of a cap. You know like those visor caps/sun visors (not sure how it’s called, I searched online) used back in the 80’s? That’s what a pala is, or just the front part of a whole (baseball) cap. Confused now? 😀

    As for our pala, do you know the pala of the Portuguese Pavillion from Expo ’98? That is a masterpiece, worth being seen!

    • oregon expat says:

      I have — it was welcome relief from the sun when I was there last summer! Though I didn’t know then that it was called a pala…thanks for teaching me something new.

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