Bicos House

Bicos House (35)

The eccentricity of the Portuguese “Albuquerque” family has a piercing effect on the area of “la Alfama” in the form of “Bicos” House, or “Casa dos Bicos” in Portuguese.  Passing through the district you are sure to physically feel this when marvelling at the curious façade of this singular piece of civil architecture.

History tells us that the “Casa dos Bicos” was built in 1523 for Bras de Albuquerque, son of the viceroy of India. Without doubt, it is a striking part of the skyline and its façade stands out impressively from the other surrounding buildings. 

Its curious exterior design, covered in stones shaped like the point of a diamond (which is what “bico” means in Portuguese) has a great deal of period Italian influence. In fact, it shares significant similarities with the ´Diamond Palace` in Ferrara and the ´Bevilacqua Palace` in Bologna. However, within the context of Portuguese civil architecture it is unique. 

After the 1755 earthquake, the palace was purchased by a fish trader. Most of the districts’ other palaces had been destroyed and in the case of the “Casa dos Bicos”, the two upper floors were the parts most damaged. This did not bother the trader too much and he left them just as they were. Eventually the building was used as a cod warehouse.  

In 1960 the house was acquired by the municipal chamber of Lisbon even though the two damaged upper floors were not restored until the early 1980’s, a time when the palace hosted the 17th European Art, Science and Culture exhibition. 

During its restoration a panel of 18th century tiles and interesting archaeological Roman objects were discovered, as well as part of a medieval tower and a piece of Moorish paving.

Despite its location in the street “Rúa dos Bacalhoeiros”, previously the site of cod sellers’ stalls, and once having been used as a warehouse, cod is now found only in restaurants and you are free to visit the palace to see various temporary exhibitions held in its interior.

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