Chiado: Lisboa’s Charming Quarter

PART OF Lisboa’s charm are the old shops, scattered around the city, some are small, located in narrow streets, next to large modern buildings. The Chiado quarter consists of the main streets Rua Garrett (named after the writer and poet Almeida Garrett, 1799-1854), the Rua do Carmo, Rua Serpa Pinto and the Largo de Chiado.

In August 1988 a fire started in Grandella, one of the large department stores. It took over twenty hours to extinguish the fire which totally destroyed the department store and shops next to it. The area was rebuilt.

The most famous landmark in the Chiado area is the Café Brasileira in Rua Garrett. In the eighteenth and early nineteenth century this area was alive and buzzing – it was a regular haunt for artists and politicians and for writers and poets, including Portugal’s famous poet and writer Fernando Pessoa whose statue can be seen outside the café. The Café Brasileira was a shop which started selling coffee imported from Brazil in 1905. Every purchaser was offered a free cup of coffee. However a few years later it was restructured, offering tables and chairs to clients and became a coffee shop, a popular venue for meetings among writers and artists.

Next to it is the Casa Havaneza, founded by Henry Burnay in 1864 and selling the finest tobacco in Lisbon. The present decor is of early 1970. Casa Pereira further along the Rua Garrett at no. 38 sells teas, biscuits, chocolates and coffee beans which are ground on the spot. It also sells jams and liqueurs.

At Rua Garrett no. 69-71 are the Piccadilly tailors established in 1920.
Fabrics and other items for the home can be seen in Paris em Lisboa, at Rua Garrett, 77. Founded in 1888 it was appointed to the Royal Family by Queen Amélia.

A curious shop in Rua do Carmo 87A is the Luvaria Ulisses, a shop that exclusively sells gloves. The shop is no larger than a pantry but it has its own production and clients can order gloves to be made specially for them chosen from any design.

One of Portugal’s top designers, Ana Salazar, has her boutique in the Rua do Carmo at no. 87.

Bookshops abound in these streets. Livraria Bertrand in Rua Garrett 73-75 is the oldest bookshop and publisher in the country. It was founded by Pedro Faure in 1732 who married the young daughter of Frenchman Pierre Bertrand. They moved to their present location in 1773. Another bookshop in this area is the Livraria Sá da Costa in Rua Garrett, 100. At No. 82 in the Rua do Carmo is Allaud & Lellos. A wide range of books, both Portuguese and international are found here in the shop’s original building which opened in 1931. At no. 70 Rua do Carmo is the other bookshop Livraria Portugal which opened in 1941. Livraria Ferin, Rua Nova do Almada, 70-74 was founded by Marie Therese Férin in 1840. The shop was appointed as Binders to the Royal Libraries by King Pedro V. Art and historical works are the main subjects here.

Vista Alegre, renowned for fine porcelain and china is at the Largo do Chiado, 18. The Vista Alegre factory was founded in 1824 by José Ferreira Pinto Basto and today it is still one of the finest producers of high quality china and porcelain with clients including banks and institutions.

Finally the Barbearia Campos, is one of the old-fashioned barbers in the Largo do Chiado, 4. It has been going since 1888.

There are a number of churches in the area. The Igreja da N. Sra. de Encarnação in the Largo do Chiado was built in 1793. The Igreja Italiana de N. S. de Loreto, just opposite, was first built in 1573 but destroyed in the earthquake of 1755 and rebuilt in 1785. The Basilica da N. Sra. dos Martires is just opposite.

Off the Rua do Carmo is the Santa Justa Lift (Elevador de Santa Justa) that takes you to the top offering views of Lisboa. In the Rua Serpa Pinto No. 6 is the Chiado Museum, past the São Carlos Opera house. The Chiado Museum has a collection of sculpture and paintings, mainly by Portuguese artists.

Pat Rodrigues