Living History

Historical shops that are still running by Conta-me Histórias, Lisboa

Born and raised in Mouraria, Helena Aguiar, was almost 60 when she decided it was time to follow her dream of studying at Fine Arts College. She is in the second year of her Painting degree and takes up her free time by researching about the city, organising itineraries, sharing legends, histories and her recommendations on her Facebook page.

Caza das Vellas Loreto

Rua do Loreto, 53/55

One of the oldest shops in town, and perhaps the one which changed the least. It has always been in the same family, selling the same product: artisanal candles. Established July 14th, 1789 it is particularly symbolic: it opened with the sole purpose of lighting up the streets of Lisbon.

Garrafeira Napoleão

Rua dos Fanqueiros, 70/76

This traditional wine shop has been running for 70 years. It is known for its exquisite shop windows and the huge quantity of all kinds of national drinks. You’ll also be walking on a piece of history: right beneath your feet is a 2000-year old secret: the Roman tanks where fish was salted.

Retrosaria Bijou

Rua da Conceição, 9

This shop, established in 1915, sells buttons, threads, yarns, silks, embroidery, and wooden beads. It is known for its eye-catching front, which is a mixture of rococo and Art Nouveau. It still has some of the original furniture and, most importantly, its famous cash till.

Tabacaria Mónaco

Praça D.Pedro IV, 21

Established in 1875, this place was a favourite hangout spot for the city’s smokers but curiously, it was also a passageway. The peculiar long and thin shop used to be a tunnel connecting Rossio with Rua 1º de Dezembro. Inside, make sure to notice the long counter, the shelving made from Brazilian woods, the water nozzle, the azulejos, and the swallows by Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro, one of Lisbon’s most famous artists. The frescos on the ceiling were painted by António Ramalho.

Important streets by Lisboa de Antigamente

“To evoke, to repeat, to arrange, and to promote is also to create,” says Norberto de Araújo, a specialist in Lisbon. This is the motto of Lisboa de Antigamente, or Yesteryear’s Lisbon, a community dedicated to the history of the city, sharing old photographs of streets and avenues, paired by literary texts and careful descriptions.

Rua Garrett

Chiado was a place people would come to show off what they had to wear and criticise what others were wearing. The Portuguese writer Ramalho Ortigão called it the vain hillside. At one point you could feel a very strong, bohemian spirit among the intellectuals that gathered here. The novelist Eça de Queiroz used to say “Meeting in Chiado is having the finest grace, conceited vitality and all your manners dissipated.”

Avenida da Liberdade

In 1879, the Mayor of Lisbon, José Gregório de Rosa Araújo, announced a proposal to make a “great Avenue and Promenade towards Rossio.” It was inaugurated in 1885, and promenading down the Avenue, to see and be seen, became massively popular. It was considered a particularly romantic walk to take.

Avenida 24 Julho

Os Maiasis the masterpiece of Eça de Queiroz, one of the cities greatest chroniclers. The book ends with the two main characters “running desperately up the Santos ramp and past the Aterro”. Today, this ramp is the Calçada Ribeiro Santos, which crosses the Avenida 24 de Julho and pays homage to an anti-fascist murdered by the Portuguese secret police, the PIDE; in 1972.

Avenida Almirante Reis

Norberto de Araújo, a specialist on the studies of Lisbon, says that Avenida Almirante Reis followed its architect’s plans carefully, and it’s thanks to that that it is still so splendidly urban. Wistfully, he adds that we can only wish that every other big work in Lisbon would follow their plans this closely.

Avenida da República

Following the Proclamation of the Republic in 1910, the City Hall had the street names changed to remove those people that were involved with the monarchy. That’s how Avenida Ressano Garcia, named after an engineer and politician of the previous generation, became the Republic’s Avenue. Don’t miss the pastry shop, Versailles. It dates back to 1922, when it was opened by Salvador Antunes, a man with a training in French pastry and a passion for Art Noveau.