Restaurant Casa do Alentejo Lisbon, former Moorish Palace, spectacular courtyard & a Portuguese tiles (azulejos) treasure
A few minutes walk from Rossio Square, a little bit hidden behind a small door in a popular tourist street in Lisbon Rua das Portas de Santo Antão, there’s Casa do Alentejo: suddenly you step in an amazing Moorish palace, with an impressive courtyard!
Casa do Alentejo was created 85 years ago, as a purpose to be a meeting place for people from Portugal’s historical province Alentejo (além Tejo means beyond the Tagus) and to cultivate its unique culture. At that time many people from this region left home in search for a better life in Lisbon.
The palace dates from the last quarter of the 17th C., but its current appearance is a result of considerable alterations carried out in 1918. Nowadays here’s the headquarters of the association of the Alentejo people.
The ballroom. Today many activities take place here: on Saturdays the ‘Alentejo afternoons’ (tardes Alentejanas), with choral groups. On Sunday, the dancing begins at 3;30 pm. Mostly elderley people come here to socialize. There’s also a library and a handicraft shop of typical products of Alentejo (downstairs).
The dining rooms are picturesque, with open fireplaces and decorated with beautiful tiles (azulejos). The azulejo is a form of Portuguese painted, tin-glazed, ceramic tilework. They have become a typical aspect of Portuguese culture. Azulejo comes from the Arabic word az-zulayj, meaning polished stone. Wherever you go in Portugal, azulejos are to be found inside and outside cafes, churches, palaces, ordinary houses and even ceilings, train- or subway stations. Many azulejos chronicle major historical and cultural aspects of Portuguese history.
Portugese appetizers are on the table when you arrive. The restaurant in Casa do Alentejo is very popular, all the ingredients are straight from the Alentejo. The average price of a 3-course meal is 20 euro. Small bottle of wine: 4.50 euro. My choice: ‘bife de atum‘, (tuna fish steak, 11.50 euro and really good!
Several elderly Portuguese are reading, talking or snoozing peacefully in the library…..