Casa dos Bicos

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The Casa dos Bicos, headquarters of the José Saramago Foundation
Detail of the front facade

The Casa dos Bicos (Portuguese for House of the Spikes) is a historical house in the city of Lisbon, in Portugal. The house, built in the early 16th century in the Alfama neighbourhood, has a curious façade of Renaissance and Manueline influence. It survived the disastrous 1755 Lisbon Earthquake that destroyed much of the city.


The Casa dos Bicos was built around 1523 by Brás de Albuquerque (1501–1581), son of the first governor of Portuguese India, Afonso de Albuquerque. Brás de Albuquerque had spent some years in Italy, where he could get first hand contact with Italian Renaissance architecture. He presumably saw urban palaces like the Palazzo dei Diamanti, in Ferrara, that have façades covered with diamond-shaped spikes. Upon his return to Portugal, Brás de Albuquerque built the Casa dos Bicos with a façade featuring "diamonds" like in the Italian palace, but incorporating Manueline (Portuguese late Gothic) windows and portals.

The 1755 Lisbon earthquake destroyed a great part of the building. The main façade was destroyed, and the two upper storeys of the façade facing the Bacalhoeiros street (the current main façade) came down. The house was kept in possession of the Albuquerque family until the 19th century, when it was acquired by a codfish trader. It was used for years as a storage house for codfish (Bacalhau). Around 1960 the house was acquired by the Lisbon Municipality.

In the 1980s the house was restored and partially rebuilt. The two upper storeys of the current main façade were rebuilt based on pre-1755 drawings and paintings, which showed a Renaissance loggia on the third floor and the Manueline-style windows. Archaeological excavations were carried out inside the house, revealing remnants of Roman and Moorish periods.

The José Saramago Foundation[edit]

In 2012 the José Saramago Foundation established its permanent office in the Casa dos Bicos, due to an agreement with Lisbon's Council.[1] The José Saramago Foundation offers to visitors a permanent exhibition titled The Seed and the Fruits about the life and work of José Saramago. Some other cultural events are also celebrated such as book releases, theater plays, talks and debates.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Fundação José Saramago abre hoje na Casa dos Bicos para desassossegar - PÚBLICO". Retrieved 2014-09-06. 

Coordinates: 38°42′33″N 9°07′58″W / 38.7091°N 9.1327°W / 38.7091; -9.1327