I just returned from Portugal yesterday and I loved it. I knew nothing of Portuguese literature but I visited so many literary spots and I’m such a big fan now! So if you ever want to visit Lisbon, here are the best literary places to go.
Mosteiro dos Jerónimos – Praça do Império 1400-206
This monument might not be the first place you’d start looking for literature, but if you like burial places it’s a must see. Not only does it feature the ashes of Pessoa, one of the greatest poets of the 20th century, the church also has the grave of Camões, the poet who wrote Portugal’s national epic. Don’t get fooled by all the signs pointing to an ancient library though: after searching for more than 30 minutes I discovered it no longer exists.
Ler Devagar- 1300, R. Rodrigues de Faria 103
You recognize this amazing bookstore from all those lists with the greatest bookstores in the world. This is the one with the biker hanging from the ceiling. It’s a stunning bookstore with a beautiful modern design (and this is coming from someone who likes old stores very much). The collection is pretty good, I think they have the biggest collection of translated literature I could find. The neighbourhood of this store is also really great: it’s kind of hipster but it wasn’t that crowded when I visited so I guess it’s not discovered by too many tourists yet.
The statue of Pessoa in front of Café A Brasileira – R. Garrett 120
Pessoa made an impact on Portuguese literature that you can’t overestimate. The statue in front of this café is great place to take a picture. For the real experience you can have dinner at A Brasileira as well, but remember: the later the better. We arrived at around 8 PM (which is pretty late for dinner for Dutchies) but the Portuguese only started coming in around 11 PM.
Livraria Bertrand – R. Garrett 73
Livraria Bertrand is the oldest bookstore of Portugal and probably the oldest in the world. It opened in 1732 and is still going strong. Unfortunately, if you’re looking for Portuguese literature translated in English, the only offer Pessoa and Saramago. Great writers, but I would have liked a bit more choice.
Casa Fernando Pessoa – R. Coelho da Rocha 16
Did I mention Pessoa already? This museum is the best place to learn more about his life and his works. It’s a beautiful literary museum, which poems scattered all over the walls (we almost got stuck in the lift because we were too busy reading this beautiful poem). I really love this place.
Statues and monuments of famous writers
Portugal is really proud of its literary heritage, so there are monuments to find all over Lisbon celebrating writers. My favourite one was the statue of Eça de Queiroz (Largo do Quintela), but you can also take a look at the grave of Henri Fielding (R. de São Jorge), the statue of the giant from Os Lusíadas (Miradouros Santa Catherina) or a statue of Pessoa with a book instead of a head (Largo de sao Carlos).
Casa dos Bicos – Rua dos Bacalhoeiros
In Casa dos Bicos you can find the José Saramago Foundation, with a museum about this Nobel Prize-winning author. And guess what? IT FEATURES HIS NOBEL PRIZE! I visited this museum with a good friend who is kind of an expert on the Nobel Prize in Literature, and he almost fainted when he saw this. It is highly unusual to get to see a Nobel Prize for real, as most of them are kept safe by families.