If we wanted to systematize the history of Chiado we would say that it went through three major phases: first as a privileged place for the clergy, through its convents and churches, then as a landing for the nobility and nobility, and finally, the time of the bourgeoisie, especially after the earthquake when it is installed in force.
Of all the buildings in Chiado that made history and whose memory has reached us, the one that in a certain way we can choose as condensing in itself the different phases of Chiado, its pulse, its experience and successive transformations is, without a doubt, what today it is occupied by Armazéns do Chiado. Even in the disasters and cataclysms to which the area has always been subjected, in terms of earthquakes and fires, this is reflected.
Today, in no way remembers its former functions of convent and palace. The alterations were immense and the various remodeling and restoration works, motivated by the most diverse reasons, were erasing the distinctive features, although here and there they had replaced some elements that a closer and more knowledgeable look would have no difficulty in recognizing as being connected to its past history and splendor.
But whatever path you have followed so far, it is undoubtedly an old building full of history and memories.
It is not clear when buildings started to exist. It is known that in 1279 a hermitage and a Brotherhood hospital were built here.
In 1971, the facilities were donated to the oratorian priests of the Congregation of São Filipe Néry. Among the famous Oratorians who lived here, the Order's founder in Portugal, Bartolomeu de Quental and Father Manuel Bernardes, stand out.
The 1755 Earthquake does not save you and is reduced to rubble.
The rebuilding project was designed by Jose Joaquim Ludovice, son of the architect from Mafra who delivered it completed in 1792, a beautiful late-baroque example with the mixture of the Mafra, Pombaline and Neoclassical schools.
According to Pinheiro Chagas, the building was sold off. In 1836, Manuel José de Oliveira was bought by a wealthy businessman from Madeira known as Manuel dos Contos, who received the title of Barão de Barcelinhos by D. Maria II. At that time, the Baron of Barcelinhos ordered the columns to be placed on the façade of the National Theater, but which ended up adorning the entrance of the old Polytechnic School of Lisbon.
After the Baron's death, the building houses hotels and several shops.
The hotels that passed through there were Hotel Embaixador, Hotel Europa, also known as Hotel de l'Europe where Sarah Bernhardt settles on her arrival in Lisbon, on April 1, 1888.
Hotel Gibraltar, whose windows on the night of October 31, 1878, made the first electric lighting experiment in Chiado.
The most famous, however, was the Hotel Universal, where opera was performed and where Camilo Castelo Branco and Elisa Hensler, future countess of Edla, second wife of King Fernando de Saxe-Coburgo, stayed and where Eça located some scenes from A Capital.
Of the various stores, and there were many in number and commercial specialty, the most famous were that of tailor João Keil, father of the author of the national anthem, and the studio of the photographer of Casa Real, J. Camacho.
THE 1st FIRE
On September 29, 1880, the Palace suffered a fire that destroyed much of the interior, namely the facilities of the Europa and Gibraltar hotels, losing the chapel forever.
The reconstruction ends in 1894, the year in which the Companhia dos Grandes Armazéns do Chiado is installed here, the result of a partnership between two Frenchmen, Luis Bonneville and Émile Phillipot, who exchanged their first currency «Bien faire et laisser dire» for that of « sell cheaper than everyone »in an unsuccessful attempt to face competition, namely that of neighboring Armazéns Granella. In the unequal struggle, the French had to close their large warehouse three years later, where French clothing, jewelers and perfumeries predominated.
THE WAREHOUSES OF CHIADO
It was in April 1888 that the brothers Joaquim Nunes dos Santos founded the firm Nunes dos Santos e Companhia.
They also show themselves to have a strict management spirit, seeking to move forward with firm steps, avoiding adventurous steps.
"All purchases made in our Warehouses are sent free of charge to the home of all our Ex. Customers, for which we have a well-equipped Peugeot brand car service"
IN: Chiado Department Store Catalog 1905-1910.
«CHIADO Champagne, pure natural, very delicious- No Drugs. It is not a factory of pains and headaches but a safe way to avoid them by drinking it ».
In 1935, the management ordered the construction of a large glass terrace used for the restaurant along the entire roof. The interior is refurbished with new galleries and escalator installations. Space currently occupied by the garden area of the Premium rooms and the Panoramic Bar / Restaurant at Hotel do Chiado.
The 2nd FIRE
In the early hours of August 25, 1988, a violent fire broke out that completely destroyed the entire building, adjacent buildings and much of Chiado, in what was considered one of the greatest tragedies experienced in the area.
After a century. of existence, the Grand Warehouses of Chiado disappeared completely.
20 years later, Chiado recovers its soul through the hand of the famous architect Siza Vieira, who elaborates a reconstruction plan of his own, once again demonstrating his genius.
The architect defends: “In my way of designing, I give primary importance to the function of the building, but always bearing in mind that on the other hand the process of designing also means a release from that care, from this service, from this function that cannot be ignored. From then on, there is a kind of liberation… .. Architecture is used by power. Architecture is done or not done, depending on who buys it. Basically, it is not autonomous. A painter easily takes a canvas, does his work ... an architect depends on who orders him. Its expression is not autonomous, like painting, sculpture ... ”
Chiado came back to life and became the main commercial artery in Lisbon. It is again the meeting point for intellectuals and artists, a reason for tourists to stroll and the starting point for a busy night in Bairro Alto.