A success story


The first statutes of the Portuguese Industrial Association, dating back to 1837 contained just 17 articles, one of which referred to the obligation to “implement a world exhibition of industry”, in addition to “several fairs in several parts of the kingdom”.

Therefore, during the reign of D. Pedro V, AIP was instructed by the monarch to accomplish the 1ª Exposição Industrial Portugueza [Ist Portuguese Industrial Exhibition], and went on later, during the time of D. Luís, to organise the National Exhibition of the Manufacturing Industries (with 1214 exhibitioners) at Avenida da Liberdade in Lisbon.

At the turn of the century, AIP had already promoted the participation of the national industry in large-scale international fairs- such as Seville, Vienna, Paris, St. Louis.

In 1929 the largest international fair was held in Estoril, following the establishment of the Portuguese Republic -the Samples of National Industry Fair. The following year, AIP was charged with the task of organising a national representation in the Portuguese  Products Exhibition in Rio de Janeiro.

In the years 1931/32,  it carried through the memorable Great Industrial Exhibition, in Parque Eduardo VII, Lisbon. In 1949, it restored the pavilions of the famous Portuguese World exhibition and transformed them into FIP- the Portuguese Industries Fair, the predecessor of the International Fair of Lisbon.

It was then that AIP, with the help of its Chairman at the time, Francisco Cortez Pinto, decided to construct its own space for the organisation of the Fair from scratch. The land of the Cordoaria [rope factory] in Junqueira, was chosen and Francisco Keil do Amaral (descendent of the author of the national anthem) and Alberto Cruz were commissioned for the project. The work was completed in the Spring of 1957, and was so grandiose that the building was classified as the Architectural Heritage of Lisbon.

For 42 years this building received millions of visitors in Fairs that increasingly became larger and broader in reach, thus leading the building in Junqueira to exhaust its capacity. Therefore, it became more and more urgent to find a new space for the staging of fairs.

And so the Portuguese Industrial Association, presided at the time by Jorge Rocha de Matos, began its search for a new location. The solution emerged with the project for Expo’98. When contacted by the sponsors, Jorge Rocha de Matos saw a unique opportunity in this initiative to transfer FIL to an area that was to become one of the prime locations of Lisbon. So, in 1994, he undertook to acquire one of the most symbolic footholds of  Expo´98 – the north international area- the current International Fair of Lisbon.

The space of the former FIL in Junqueira was reconverted and is now the Lisbon Congress Center, the largest and one of the most qualified spaces for the staging of congresses and events in Portugal.