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Portuguese handicrafts often exhibit exotic influences, in large part because of the artisans' versatility and their skill in absorbing other styles. Portugal's vast history as a seafaring nation also surely has something to do with it. The best place to see their work is in Lisbon, where shopkeepers and their buyers hunt out unusual items from all over Portugal, including the Madeira Islands and the Azores.

Shops are open, in general, Monday through Friday from 9am to 1pm and from 3 to 7pm, and Saturday from 9am to 1pm.

Shopping Areas -- Shops operate all over the city, but Baixa, in downtown Lisbon, is the major area for browsing. Rua Áurea (Street of Gold, the location of the major jewelry shops), Rua da Prata (Street of Silver), and Rua Augusta are Lisbon's three principal shopping streets. The Baixa shopping district lies between the Rossio and the river Tagus.

Rua Garrett, in the Chiado, is where you'll find many of the more upmarket shops. A major fire in 1988 destroyed many shops, but new ones have arisen.

Antiques lovers gravitate to Rua Dom Pedro V in the Bairro Alto. Other streets with antiques stores include Rua da Misericórdia, Rua de São Pedro de Alcântara, Rua da Escola Politécnica, and Rua do Alecrim.

Antiques

Along both sides of the narrow Rua de São José in the Graça District are treasure-troves of shops packed with antiques from all over the world. Antiques dealers from the United States come here to survey the wares. You'll find ornate spool and carved beds, high-back chairs, tables, wardrobes with ornate carvings, brass plaques, copper pans, silver candelabra, crystal sconces, chandeliers, and a wide selection of wooden figures, silver boxes, porcelain plates, and bowls. But don't count on getting spectacular bargains.

Baskets

One of the best selections of Portuguese baskets is at the Feira da Ladra.

Sweaters

The vendors at the Feira da Ladra marketplace sell a wide selection of Portuguese sweaters. Casa Bordados da Madeira (Rua do 1 de Dezembro 137; tel. 21/342-14-47) carries a fine selection of Nazaré-style fisher's sweaters.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.