Opened in 1998, the Oceanário was the centerpiece of the 20th century's last World's Fair, themed "The Oceans, a Heritage for the Future," and it eternally binds Lisbon to the Oceans.
The Oceanário's mission is to promote knowledge of the oceans and bring the public up to speed about the duty of protecting natural heritage through changing their daily habits. While walking through impressive and unforgettable exhibits, you will learn fascinating things about the oceans and, more importantly, how to actively promote the conservation of nature. The Lisbon Oceanarium (Oceanário de Lisboa) is the second largest aquarium in Europe, after L'Oceanogràfic in Valencia. It contains more than 15,000 creatures from over 450 different species.
This building is one of the most eye-catching in the Park of the Nations. It "floats" in the ocean and can be accessed only by crossing a footbridge. During the 1998 Expo in Lisbon, it was called the Oceans Pavilion (Pavilhão dos Oceanos) and was one of the most popular attractions. The Lisbon Oceanarium's conceptual design, architecture, and exhibit design was led by Peter Chermayeff of Peter Chermayeff LLC while at Cambridge Seven Associates. It is said to resemble an aircraft carrier and is built on a pier in an artificial lagoon. Chermayeff is also the designer of the Osaka Oceanarium, one of the world's largest aquariums, and many other aquariums around the world.
Exploring the oceanarium
The Lisbon Oceanarium has two floors, and everything rotates around a huge central aquarium. It is recommended to follow the arrows so that you can visit the marine species from various oceans across the world. The top floor features water-dwelling animals that live closest to the water's surface, while on the lower floor you'll find deep-sea creatures. The largest aquarium is probably the most impressive part of the oceanarium. It houses hundreds of species, including several types of sharks, stingrays, manta rays, and colorful tropical fish. The Lisbon Oceanarium has a large collection of marine species—penguins, seagulls, and other birds; sea otters; sharks, rays, chimaeras, seahorses, and other bony fish; crustaceans; starfish, sea urchins, and other echinoderms; sea anemones, corals, and other cnidaria; octopuses, cuttlefish, sea snails, and other mollusks; amphibians; jellyfish; marine plants and terrestrial plants; and other marine organisms totaling about 16,000 individual plants and animals of 450 species. The main tank allows pelagic swimmers to swim above the bottom dwellers and provides the illusion of the open ocean. About 100 species from around the world are kept there, including sharks, rays, barracudas, groupers, and moray eels. One of the main attractions is a large sunfish. The Lisbon Oceanarium is one of the few aquariums in the world to house a sunfish, because of their unique and demanding requirements for care. Other interesting species include two large spider crabs and two sea otters named Eusébio, after the soccer player, and Amália, after the fado singer Amália Rodrigues.
A good attraction for children
While in Lisbon, the oceanarium is an essential stop if you're traveling with children. Family tickets are available, which give you a small discount. Perfect for spending time with the kids. Oceanário de Lisboa, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary, was elected the Best Aquarium in the World by TripAdvisor in 2015 and 2017. It is one of the most visited cultural spaces in Portugal, with over 23 million visitors from 185 different countries since it was opened.