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Information & Sources, Lisbon: 9 reviews and 16 photos


Picture by Miguel Torres

The beginning of the 16th Century was a period of great prosperity for the city of Lisbon. The Ribeira and its port, shipyards, warehouses and government departments was the main centre of all this activity.
Life was carried out to the rhythm of street-cryers, commercial exchanges and port activities. It was the largest centre of business in the country.
Lisbon: it was here that goods were profitable and find their way to the outside world such as the big centres of commerce of Northern Europe, the Hanseatic League towns, Flanders and the Netherlands. The Crown
invested heavily, trying to maintain its monopoly on the spice trade, followed closely by the foreign capital which was in operation at the time, supplied by bankers and merchants of various nationalities. Some of these were already to be found settled in Lisbon carrying out their businesses and this made Lisbon a cosmopolitan city, '...a large city of many and varied peoples... '

It was in this historical context, characterised by a new image of urbanisation in Lisbon, that the Casa dos Bicos (The House of the Pointed Stones) emerged between 1523 and 1530. The building was
situated on the north side of the Ribeira Velha, in the middle of a row of assorted houses.
Families such as the Correias, Távoras, Noronhas, the Count and Countess of Linhares, Portalegre and Gouveia among others all had residences there.

The Casa dos Bicos consisted of a simple ground and first floor and above them, two stately apartments topped by a hipped roof in 3 sections, typical, in this latter aspect, of Portuguese buildings of that period.

The house had two facades, one facing north and the south facade, facing the river, which was, understandably, more elaborate in stylistic terms.

Covered with a dense pattern of pointed stones, the house stood out from all the other stately residences in the area from the very beginning, owing to the effect produced by the design: quadrilateral pyramids. In the Manueline style, the building was pierced by polyfoil-arched windows on the ground floor and at certain points on the floors above. The stately part of the building was similarly furnished with double windows and a loggia or gallery containing 3 arches, typically
Mediterranean, situated on the penultimate storey. The relationship between these features as a whole produced a symmetry that was part of the logic of the
Manueline style.

Today, little remains of the original plan of the house. A piece of the doorway of the main entrance stands out among the few surviving features. The rest is scattered over various parts of the city and in museums.

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  • Written Aug 24, 2002
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