Shopping and shops can, and indeed should, be an element that distinguishes a city and makes it different to others. Down through Lisbon’s history, trade and commerce has played a particularly important role in the life of the city. And it continues to occupy a decisive place in the economic, social and cultural life of the capital today.
Treating the shopping facilities as both a differentiating mark of the city and an economic activity that also generates employment requires close coordination of a wide and complementary range of measures as part of a strategy that brings together three areas of municipal activity: urban planning and architectural elements, cultural heritage, and economic activities.
One of the priorities of the city of Lisbon is to work with the traditional and historic businesses in the city with a view to conserving and protecting them and their material, historic and cultural heritage and energising and reinvigorating the commercial activities essential for their existence. It was with this objective in mind that Lisbon City Council launched its programme, which is a first in Portugal.
The “Historic Shops” project was set up by the City Council in February 2015 (approved by Decision 99/CM/2015 [Proposal 99/2015], published in the 4th Supplement to the official Municipal Bulletin no. 1097 of 27 February 2015), motivated by a sense of urgency as to the need for the conservation and revitalisation of this heritage, in the recognition that it represented a significant part of the city’s identity and character and is, at the same time, an important social and economic tool for the city’s development.
Following intensive documental research and field work in February 2016, the Council approved the criteria for recognition as a “Historic Shop”, as well as the responsibilities and powers of the Working Group and Advisory Board through Decision 66/CM/2016 (Proposal 66/2016) published in the 4th Supplement to Municipal Gazette 1149 of 25 February 2016.
In July 2016 and February 2017, based on a proposal by the Working Group and after having consulted the Advisory Board, the City Council approved the awarding of the Historic Shop distinction to a total of 63 and 20 commercial establishments respectively. This was publicly disclosed in Municipal Bulletin issues 1171, 2nd Supplement and 1204, 4th Supplement.
From now on other establishments can apply for this distinction either at the initiative of the shop’s workers, owners or civil society, in accordance with the respective Regulations, as published in the Diário da República legal gazette.
With a view to providing financial support for the maintenance and appreciation of the genuine characteristics of this important sector, i.e. the Historic Shops, Lisbon City Council has set up a Municipal “Historic Shops” Fund, which has also been published in the Diário da República.
In addition to the financial aid provided for in the programme regulations, Lisbon City Council has also provided support for the creation of a visual identity for the programme, within the scope of which diverse promotional material, including this website, was produced and a dedicated Council team was set up to assist the shopkeepers.