A history of success

The first statutes of the Portuguese Industrial Association (AIP), dated 1837, contained just 17 articles, one of which included the obligation to “conduct a worldwide exhibition of the industry”, in addition to “several fairs in various parts of the Kingdom”.

Thus, early in the reign of D. Pedro V, the AIP was charged with materializing the 1st Portuguese Industrial Exhibition, and went on later, during the time of D. Luís, to organize the Portuguese Manufacturing Industries Exhibition (with 1,214 exhibitors) on Avenida da Liberdade in Lisbon.

At the turn of the century, AIP was promoting the participation of Portuguese industries in large international fairs, including ones in Seville, Vienna, Paris, St. Louis, and more.

In 1929, the largest national fair since the installation of the republic, the Portuguese National Industries Fair, was held in the city of Estoril. The following year, the AIP was charged with organizing national representation at the Portuguese Products Exhibition, in Rio de Janeiro.

In 1931 and 1932, the memorable Grand Industrial Exhibition was held at the top of the Parque Eduardo VII, a park in Lisbon. In 1949, it recovered the pavilions of the famous exhibition of the Portuguese World and transformed them into the FIP – Feira das Indústrias Portuguesas (Portuguese Industries Fair), the predecessor of the Lisbon International Fair.

It was then that the AIP, through the actions of its then president, Francisco Cortez Pinto, decided to build its own space from the ground up for organizing the fair. The space chosen was the land of the cordage factory, in Junqueira, and the project was handed over to Francisco Keil do Amaral (a descendant of the author of the national anthem) and Alberto Cruz.. Thus, in the spring of 1957, construction was concluded, and the result was so grand that the building was classified as official architectural heritage of the City of Lisbon.

For 42 years, the venue received millions of visitors at fairs which grew increasingly larger and more wide-reaching, bringing the Junqueira building to go beyond its capacity. It became, thus, increasingly urgent to find a new space to house the fairs.

It was then that the Portuguese Industrial Association, led at the time by Jorge Rocha de Matos, began its search. The solution presented itself with the Expo ’98. Upon being contacted by promoters, Jorge Rocha de Matos recognized this initiative as a unique opportunity for transferring FIL to a different area that  would become one of the most prestigious in Lisbon. Thus, in 1994, he committed to acquiring a highly symbolic location and a pillar of the Expo´98 — the international northern district — the current FIL – The Lisbon Exhibition and Congress Centre.

The former FIL space in Junqueira was converted and is today the CCL – The Lisbon Congress Centre, the largest and most advanced conference and events spaces in Portugal.