Cafés Literários na Baixa

Tue, 07.01.2020

The amazing Cafés literários in Baixa

Our Portuguese language school started the year perfectly with a walking tour through Cafés Literários na Baixa. It happened on the last January 7th.

The Cafés Literários were coffee shops used by several intellectuals to discuss about politics, literature and society. They converted random coffee shops into important centres of knowledge. At that time, the coffee shops were safety and reserved places to discuss forbidden topics, according to the monarchical regime.

Indira Leão, our history teacher, led us during the afternoon. We started at Café A Brasileira, the most emblematic in Lisbon with a statue of Fernando Pessoa. When Adriano Telles inaugurated the place in 1905, he was having troubles in selling coffee. People didn’t like its bitter taste, so Adriano had the idea of offering coffees. Probably, he also encouraged his costumers to drink coffee with sugar, softening its strong flavour.

Before going to our second coffee shop, we made a stop in Largo de São Carlos. In the building in front of the theatre São Carlos, Fernando Pessoa was born and lived.

Then, we went to Café Nicola, one of the first coffee shops in Lisbon, opened in the 18th century. The coffee shop belonged to Italians, which explains the name Nicola. The bohemian poet Bocage was a regular costumer of Nicola.

Our last stop was Martinho da Arcada. Before being a coffee shop, it was the Ice Coffee shop, which provided ice to the royal family since 1778. Fernando Pessoa used to go to Martinho to drink his coffee and bagasse. He drank his last coffee here with Almada Negreiros two days before his death (November 30th 1935).

After the walking tour, we had our social moment in Confeitaria Nacional, where we were able to drink a hot chocolate.


Let’s start the year with Cafés Literários na Baixa!

After the break for Christmas and New Year, our Portuguese language school is back with the cultural events. We’ll start the year 2020 perfectly with a walking tour about Cafés Literários in Baixa, on January 7th.

Cafés Literários is the Portuguese sentence for Literary coffee shops. Along the 18th and 20th century, Baixa and Chiado were probably the most cultural neighbourhoods of Lisboa. Many intellectuals used to gather in several coffee shops to talk about Literature or Politics. They turned these spaces into centres of knowledge and culture, in authentic cafés literários.

Our history teacher, Indira Leão, will guide us through a Lisbon of old times. At a time that the only place to talk freely about culture was the coffee shop.

We’ll start at Café A Brasileira, the most famous and emblematic of Lisbon – it opened its doors in 1905. The 1908 refurbishment makes the ground floor a coffee room and then, they started to sell coffee in a cup. It was such a unique habit that Adriano Telles, the owner, decided to offer the drink. Fernando Pessoa was a regular customer and because of that, in 1980 they inaugurated a statue to his memory.

After, we’ll go to Café Nicola, one of the first coffee shops in Lisbon. It is known to have been the second home of the Portuguese poet Bocage.

We’ll end in Martinho da Arcada. Since 1778, it was the Ice Coffee shop, which provided drinks and ice cream for the court. During the 20th century, Fernando Pessoa used to go to Martinho, to drink his coffee and his bagasse.

After the walking tour through Cafés Literários, we’ll drink a delicious hot chocolate in Confeitaria Nacional!

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