Chiado in Lisbon

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Chiado is the name of a square and its surrounding area in the city of Lisbon, in Portugal. The Chiado is located between the neighbourhoods of Bairro Alto and Baixa Pombalina.

The Chiado is a traditional shopping area that mixes old and modern commercial establishments, concentrated specially in the Carmo and Garrett Streets. Locals as well as tourists visit the Chiado to buy books, garments, pottery as well as to have a cup of coffee. The most famous café of Chiado is "A Brasileira", famous for having had poet Fernando Pessoa among its customers. The Chiado is also an important cultural area, with several museums and theatres.

Several buildings of the Chiado were destroyed in a terrible fire in 1988, an event that deeply shocked the country. Thanks to a renovation project that lasted more than 10 years, coordinated by celebrated architect Siza Vieira, the affected area is now recovered.


The toponym Chiado exists since around 1567. Initially the name referred to Garrett Street, and later to the whole surrounding area. The most widely cited possible origin for the name is related to António Ribeiro (c. 1520-1591), a popular poet from Évora who lived in the area and whose nickname was "chiado" ("squeak"). A bronze statue of the poet, by sculptor Costa Mota (tio), was placed in the Chiado Square in 1925.


The Chiado has been inhabited since at least Roman times, when several villae were present in the area. During the Middle Ages it was used for agricultural purposes and it was in its vicinity that North European Crusaders settled during the Siege of Lisbon, in 1147. After the Christian reconquest of Lisbon, several convents were founded here: the St Francis Convent (1217), Espírito Santo da Pedreira (1279), Trindade Convent (1291) and the Carmo Convent (1398).

Between 1373 and 1375, during the reign of King Fernando I, a new city wall was built that encompassed part of present-day Chiado, favouring its urbanisation and settlement. The main gate (Portas de Santa Catarina) was located in the Chiado Square. In the 16th century, the area outside the city walls (present-day Bairro Alto) was also urbanised. The gate and walls were demolished in the early 18th century. The 1755 Lisbon Earthquake greatly affected the area, destroying houses, churches and convents. The rebuilding plan organised by the Marquis of Pombal included the Chiado, and new streets were opened to link the area with the Baixa Pombalina. New churches we rebuilt in Rococo-Baroque style, like the Mártires Church, Encarnação Church and the Loreto Church, the latter belonging to the Italian community of Lisbon.

In the 18th and, specially, in the 19th century, a great number of important commercial establishments opened in the Chiado, turning it into a favourite shopping area. Some of them exist to this day, like the "Bertrand Bookshop" (opened 1747) and "Paris em Lisboa" (garment shop opened 1888). In 1792, Lisbon's opera house, the Teatro Nacional São Carlos, was inaugurated, attracting the cultural elite of the city, and other theatres were opened in the 19th century (Trindade Theatre, S. Luís Theatre). Museums were also created, like the Archaeological Museum in the former Carmo Church and the Museum of Contemporary Art in the former St Francis Convent (now Chiado Museum). The cafés and theatres in the area were a meeting point for the aristocracy, artists, and intellectuals at least until the 1960s. It eventually became a beloved touristic site thanks to its picturesque streets and squares, cultural attractions, cafés and shops.

Chiado Fire

On August 25, 1988, a fire started in Carmo Street and quickly spread to Garrett Street and others, destroying a total of 18 buildings of the Chiado. Two people were killed, and 73 were injured (60 of them firemen). From 200 to 300 people lost their homes. Several of the historical shops were lost. In terms of the extent of the city affected and number of destroyed buildings, the Chiado fire is considered the worst disaster to strike the city since the 1755 Lisbon Earthquake.

A rebuilding project directed by Portuguese architect Siza Vieira has, to a great extent, returned the area to its former glory. The exterior look of the buildings were restored, while the interiors have been completely renovated.

See also

  • A Brasileira
  • Chiado Museum
  • Carmo Convent
  • Teatro Nacional de São Carlos