Lisbon's historic shops 1: a tour around the Cafes

3 minutes to read

Much of the charm of Lisboa comes from the ever-evolving union of tradition and contemporaneity, of old and new, local and global living together. The city is full of amazing stores that, while maintaining the commerce that keeps the city alive, help remind us of this connection to the past, of its place in portuguese culture, and how important it is to preserve it aiming towards the future.

Some of the buildings that have lived through history and to this day are inviting for everyone are the historic cafes. These were places of meeting, debate of new ideas, a second home for artists and intellectuals, and are nowadays true preservers of that heritage. Below are four of them, located around the center of the city. You can take this opportunity to enjoy a lovely stroll from Avenida da Liberdade, through the Baixa, arriving at Terreiro do Paço. Just go easy on the coffee!

A Brasileira - the original 'bica'

A Brasileira
A Brasileira
R. Garrett 120, 1200 Lisboa, Portugal

This cafe was, in the XXth century, one of the many places where local artists, intellectuals and bohemians would gather to discuss the times. It also seems to be the site where the typical portuguese expression for coffe, 'bica', was born. It has an adorned entrance and interior, and there is also the popular statue of Fernando Pessoa in the esplanade. Nowadays, A Brasileira is the most famous cafe in Lisboa.

Café Nicola - the poet's second home

Café Nicola
Café Nicola
Praça Dom Pedro IV 24-25, 1200-091 Lisboa, Portugal

Opening in the XVIIIth century, it is among the oldest cafes of Rossio. First as a tavern and later remodeled as Cafe Nicola in 1929, it ended up gaining the reputation of being the place where the poet Bocage would spend the most time, an important figure among the other writers and poets that used to meet here. The art-deco style and the facade have been maintained, and the owners aim at preserving and sharing the historic and the cultural significance of the cafe to this day.

Martinho da Arcada - a cafe for culture

Martinho da Arcada
Martinho da Arcada
Praça do Comércio 3, 1100-148 Lisboa, Portugal

Martinho da Arcada played, like many other cafes that persisted through times, a significant role in the cultural heritage of Lisboa. Today, that heritage is shared with every visitor. In the old days, local artists and intellectuals used to meet here, and one poet in particular: Fernando Pessoa, who would particularly enjoy his absinth. Now, the whole place is adorned with letters, drawings, poems and other references to him. Martinho da Arcada became national heritage in 1982, so you can be sure it is much more than a cafe!

A Minhota - remembering the countryside workers

A Minhota
A Minhota
R. São José 138, 1150-088 Lisboa, Portugal

An old refuge among the fast urban development of the city, A Minhota opened its doors at the beginning of the XXth century, and at that time it was a simple store of milk and butter. Today, it is a cosy local cafe, but it still proudly shows, on its walls and objects, the rural and at the same time cosmopolitan Lisboa of old, its workers and their lives. It may seem just a traditional cafe, but it holds on to the traces of its history, and that of the city itself. Think about that when paying them a visit!

Follow the rest of the Lisbon Historic Shops series by checking out the Confectionery stores, discovering the classic Restaurants, and dropping by the Liqueur stores and Bars!


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The author

Vasco Casula

Vasco Casula

I am Vasco and I come from Portugal. Alongside playing guitar and working on animation films, I like to discover and let you discover places, such as Portugal!

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