Casa dos Bicos (House of Spikes), Lisbon

Casa dos Bicos (House of Spikes), Lisbon

Standing out among the buildings in Lisbon's Alfama area, the House of Spikes catches the eye with its diamond-shaped stones (known as "bicos"), offering a glimpse into the opulence of pre-1755 Lisbon. Constructed in 1523 for Brás de Albuquerque, the illegitimate son of Afonso, the Viceroy of India and ruler of Goa and Malacca, the façade reflects the popular architectural style of the 16th century across Europe.

Following the devastating earthquake of 1755, the top two floors of the building fell into ruin; however, in the 1980s, meticulous efforts were undertaken to restore these levels, recreating the original appearance based on old views of Lisbon depicted in tile panels and engravings. Interestingly, in the interim period, the building served as a location for salting fish, as evidenced by the name of the street it stands on—Rua dos Bacalhoeiros, meaning "street of the cod fishermen".

Today, following a comprehensive renovation in the 20th century, the House of Spikes houses the headquarters of the José Saramago Foundation. Within its walls, visitors can explore a permanent exhibition dedicated to the life and literary works of José Saramago, the acclaimed Portuguese author and Nobel Prize laureate who passed away in 2010. As a testament to the writer's wishes, his ashes find their final resting place beneath the shade of an ancient olive tree, creating a poignant and fitting tribute to his memory.

The building also serves as a vibrant cultural hub, hosting a wide array of events such as concerts, plays, book releases, seminars, debates, and engaging talks. Meanwhile, the ground floor has been thoughtfully preserved as an archaeological area where visitors can marvel at sections of a third-century Roman wall and a fish-processing plant that were excavated from beneath. A must-see in this corner of Lisbon, especially since there is lots of information in English.

Tip:
Be sure to observe the elephant footprint, a tribute to one of José Saramago's renowned literary works, "The Elephant's Journey." Additionally, pay attention to the subtle distinctions in the exterior design between the original lower two floors and the newer upper two floors.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Lisbon. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from Apple App Store or Google Play Store. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Casa dos Bicos (House of Spikes) on Map

Sight Name: Casa dos Bicos (House of Spikes)
Sight Location: Lisbon, Portugal (See walking tours in Lisbon)
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark

Walking Tours in Lisbon, Portugal

Create Your Own Walk in Lisbon

Create Your Own Walk in Lisbon

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Lisbon Introduction Walking Tour

Lisbon Introduction Walking Tour

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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.3 Km or 2.1 Miles
Belem Walking Tour

Belem Walking Tour

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Sao Jorge Castle to Lisbon Cathedral Walking Tour

Sao Jorge Castle to Lisbon Cathedral Walking Tour

Spreading on the slope between Saint George's Castle (Castelo de Sao Jorge) and the Tagus River, the oldest neighborhood of the Portuguese capital, Alfama, captivates visitors with its rich cultural heritage and picturesque ambiance. The area is home to numerous historical attractions and as such makes a perfect destination for a classic Lisbon walk!

Perhaps the best starting point for it...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.1 Km or 0.7 Miles
Alfama Walking Tour

Alfama Walking Tour

Alfama is the oldest neighborhood in Lisbon, spreading downhill between the medieval former royal Castle of São Jorge and the Tagus river. Under the Islamic rule, Alfama constituted the largest part of the city, and was increasingly inhabited by fishermen and the poor. The reputation of being a poor area still lives on. The name Alfama derives from the Arabic al-ḥamma, which means "hot...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.0 Km or 1.9 Miles

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