Bookshops with History in Lisbon

Traditional businesses have been struggling to survive the advent of online shopping since the noughties. And bookshops in Lisbon are no exception. Many readers, however, still thankfully find it delightful to browse shelves and tables full of old and brand-new releases. There’s something special about the possibility of holding books, admiring their covers and take some of them home with us if the blurbs are captivating.

The Lisbon city council has set up the project “Lojas com História” (“Historic Shops”), in February 2015, in order to protect the traditional businesses that are significant for the identity of the Portuguese capital. Some economic activities are, after all, part of the cultural heritage of various cities worldwide. Not only does this programme provide marketing support to shopkeepers, but it also offers financial aid as, for example, rents soar. Two bookshops in the Chiado neighbourhood are part of this project – Bertrand and Ferin.

Located at Rua Garrett in a beautiful building adorned with blue tiles, the Bertrand Bookshop holds the title for the oldest bookshop in the world still in operation. Open since 1732, it was founded by Pedro Faure, a French bookseller who moved to Lisbon. Later, he chose as an associate Pierre Bertrand, who also married his daughter. It has a diverse selection of books from a variety of genres, displayed in multiple rooms with archway ceilings. The majority of the books are Portuguese editions, but you can also find many books in French, Spanish and English, including new releases. Continue reading

Favourite Book Settings

When choosing a new book, the setting of the story is not, by any means, my primary concern. However, with the passing of the years, I’ve come to realise that there are certain locations that tend to appeal to me. Generally speaking, I’m more interested in books that are set in cities than in those taking place in the countryside, for example, and am also keen on fictional locations. There are four book settings, some real and others fictional, that I particularly love.

 

London

London has always been one of my favourite cities, strangely (or not) even before I ever visited. Thus, a book set there is bound to catch my attention. I love reading the descriptions of the city and recognising the names of the streets. I have read plenty of books solely or partially set in London, after all there are no shortage of them.

Saturday by Ian McEwan is not one of my favourite books, but the various mentions of the streets of London stood out to me. It takes place during one day in February 2003. A demonstration against the Iraq war makes the main character, Henry Perowne, muse on personal satisfaction, the meaning of his life and the protest itself. Continue reading

Discovering Fernando Pessoa around Lisbon

The life of Fernando Pessoa is imprinted in the city of Lisbon. While strolling around the Chiado and downtown neighbourhoods, we can find many traces of the poet’s usual daily life activities as well as some of the houses where he lived in. But the best place to start discovering more about Pessoa in Portugal’s capital is in the Campo de Ourique neighbourhood, where it’s located an institution whose main purpose is to disseminate the author’s work and biography.

Casa Fernando Pessoa opened, in 1993, in the building where the poet lived during the fifteen years preceding his death. He moved with his family to the number 16 at Rua Coelho da Rocha in 1920. Although he only lived in the apartment on the first floor right, the public institution occupies the entirety of the building. The main attractions of the house are a reconstruction of his bedroom, the multimedia room and the library specialising in world poetry.

On arrival at Casa Fernando Pessoa, whose white front is festooned with famous quotes by the poet, I was advised by one of the members of the friendly staff to start the visit on the top floor and walk my way down. There is set a multimedia room where visitors can learn more about the life and work of Pessoa. Have you never heard of his heteronyms? There you can find plenty of information about them. The various images of Pessoa on the walls convey that idea of an author who wrote under different personalities. Continue reading