A neighbourhood reborn
In 1988, a fire raged through Chiado that was considered the worst disaster to hit Lisbon since the 1755 earthquake. Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza was in charge of the area’s reconstruction.
His redesign incorporated more public spaces and reserved the upper floors of each building for apartments. An area once described by The New York Times as “as dead as Wall Street at night” re-emerged as a residential haven.
In 2014, José Avillez’s Belcanto, on Largo de São Carlos, became the first restaurant in Lisbon to receive two Michelin stars.
The Portuguese chef has several eateries in Chiado and last year opened Bairro do Avillez — a small complex consisting of a mercearia (grocery store) and three restaurants. Páteo specialises in seafood while Taberna serves small plates. Try the suckling-pig sandwich with pickled seaweed and glasswort.
Chiado is steeped in literary history. Established in 1732, Bertrand Livreiros is the oldest bookshop in the world, while the Café A Brasileira off the Praça Luís de Camões was a famous haunt of the poet Fernando Pessoa.
In fact, it is thought that Chiado is itself named after a writer. António Ribeiro lived in the area in the 16th century and was nicknamed Chiado, which, in Portuguese, means squeak.
Chiado is Lisbon’s theatre district. The Teatro Nacional de São Carlos, which opened in 1793, is the national opera house and hosts the Portuguese Symphony Orchestra.
Each July, the theatre organises the Festival ao Largo in São Carlos Square — three weeks of free, open-air performances from the likes of the National Ballet Company and the Dona Maria II National Theatre.
A contemporary twist
The collection of the Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporânea do Chiado runs from the 19th-century Romantics to the 1940s Neo-Realism of Júlio Pomar and 21st-century art by João Pedro Vale.
If you are looking for a different kind of modernism, head to O Purista Barbière. In this “barbershop bar” you can simultaneously enjoy a beer, listen to live jazz and get a haircut.
Photographs: Horacio Villalobos/Corbis via Getty Images; M Sobreira/Alamy; DeAgostini/Getty Images; Hemis/Alamy; Atlantico Press/Alamy
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