Literary coffee shops in Baixa Chiado

Wed, 23.01.2019

The cultural and intellectual facet of Lisbon

On the 23rd of January, our Portuguese language school organized a walking tour about the literary coffee shops in Lisbon.

The weather was good for a winter’s day and Indira Leão, our history teacher, guided us during the afternoon.

We walked until the Brasileira, created in 1905. Adriano Telles, the owner of the place, went to Brazil and returned to Lisbon rich with the coffee’s business. There wasn’t the habit of drinking coffee because the Portuguese people considered it bitter. To change this, the coffee shops started to encourage their costumers to drink coffee with sugar. In this context appeared the word BICA, which is a Portuguese abbreviation for Drink This With Sugar. Years later, Fernando Pessoa and many other intellectuals of Orpheu’s generation chose this place for their meetings. Indira had time to show us the place were Pessoa lived in Largo de São Carlos.

The Nicola coffee shop was founded at the end of the 18th century by Italians. The establishment owes its fame to the Portuguese poet Manuel Maria Barbosa du Bocage (1765-1805). Bocage left a valuable legacy to the Portuguese literature. Besides that, he was a bohemian man, always ready to make trouble with the authorities and his enemies. Inside the coffee shop, we could see the paintings made by Fernando Santos in 1935 that portray Bocage and his time.

We ended our tour in Martinho da Arcada. This coffee-restaurant is indelibly associated with Portuguese arts and letters. It was frequented by important politicians, writers and intellectuals like Afonso Costa, Manuel da Arriaga or José Saramago. Fernando Pessoa, a regular costumer, took his last coffee here with Almada Negreiros three days before his death. We stayed here for our socializing and it was great!

Check out our photos:


A walking tour about the main intellectual spots in Lisbon

The walking tours have come to stay in this New Year. The first theme will be about the most important literary coffee shops in Lisbon.  Join us in this exciting tour on the 23rd of January.

Indira Leão, our history teacher will guide us during this afternoon. Between the 18th and the 20th century intellectuals met in literary coffee shops (Cafés literários in Portuguese) to exchange ideas. The subjects of this discussions were several about Philosophy, Esthetic and Art. Emblematic artists such as Fernando Pessoa, Eça de Queiroz or Manuel Bocage participated in those debates.

We’ll start in Café A Brasileira. It was founded on the 19th of November of 1905 by Adriano Soares Teles do Vale. Adriano emigrated to Brazil were he profited with the production of coffee. In the beginning of the 20th century, when he returned to Portugal, he created coffee outlets, known as Brasileiras. They were known by this name because the coffee was produced and imported from Brazil. In this time, the Brasileira became the scenery of intellectual, artistic and literary meetings.

The Café Nicola was one of the first coffee houses (Botequins) in the 18th century. In 1929 Joaquim Fonseca Albuquerque inaugurated the place as Café Nicola. It was considered the second house of the poet Bocage.

The Martinho da Arcada was inaugurated on the 7th of January of 1782. From the innumerable personalities who have passed by stands out a very special client Fernando Pessoa. In 1999, it was elected by the European Coffee Guide as the best coffee of the year.

After visiting all of these coffee shops we will stay in Martinho da Arcada to socialize and to recreate this intellectual atmosphere.

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