Chiado Guide: What It’s Like to Live in Chiado, Lisbon

Chiado is an elegant and bohemian neighbourhood in Lisbon, nestled between the vibrant Bairro Alto and the historic Baixa Pombalina. It’s often combined with Baixa and called Baixa-Chiado, but the Chiado section of the neighbourhood definitely has its own distinct feel. 

Often compared to Paris’ Montmartre district, Chiado has been beautifully rebuilt after a devastating fire in 1988. The most famous streets in the area are Rua do Carmo, home to the ruins of a church bearing the same name, and Rua Garrett, the heart of Chiado. The square and its surrounding streets are lined with renowned cafés, theatres, and museums, making it a cultural hotspot in the city.

Advantages of Living in Chiado:

  1. Central Location: Chiado’s prime location makes it easy to navigate the city. With a metro line (albeit deep underground due to Chiado’s hilltop position) and proximity to other popular districts like Bairro Alto and Cais do Sodré, residents can easily access various parts of Lisbon. The nearby Cais do Sodré offers a train station with connections to the beach, as well as a lively bar scene.
  2. Beautiful Surroundings: Chiado is undeniably one of the most beautiful areas in Lisbon. The neighbourhood’s charm is enhanced by its abundance of restaurants, cafes, and shops, ensuring that residents are never short of options for dining, relaxation, or retail therapy.

Disadvantages of Living in Chiado:

  1. Lack of Amenities: Despite its popularity as a residential area, Chiado lacks some essential amenities for daily life. There is no major supermarket or market within the neighborhood, with the nearest one being Mercado da Ribeira in Cais do Sodré. This can be inconvenient for residents who need to shop for groceries regularly.
  2. Touristy Atmosphere: Chiado’s beauty and central location have made it a popular destination for tourists. The area is home to numerous Airbnbs and hotels, which can detract from the genuine neighborhood feel. Navigating through narrow pavements crowded with tourists can become tiresome for residents.
  3. Hilly Terrain: Chiado is situated on a hill, which means residents will need to tackle steep inclines and declines regularly. For those who prefer a flatter landscape, neighborhoods like Baixa, Cais do Sodré, or Santos might be more suitable.
  4. High Property Prices: Due to its desirable location and proximity to popular districts, Chiado has become one of the most expensive neighbourhoods in Lisbon for property acquisition. This can be a significant barrier for those looking to buy or rent in the area.

In conclusion, living in Chiado offers a unique blend of elegance, bohemian charm, and a central location in Lisbon. While the neighbourhood boasts beautiful surroundings and easy access to cultural attractions, it also has its drawbacks, such as the lack of essential amenities, touristy atmosphere, hilly terrain, and high property prices. Potential residents should weigh these factors carefully before deciding if Chiado is the right fit for their lifestyle and needs.

What’s in the neighbourhood

  • Praça Luís de Camões: At the heart of Chiado lies Praça Luís de Camões, also known as “Largo do Camões,” a square that separates Chiado from the neighbouring Bairro Alto. The square’s centrepiece is a bronze statue of the poet Luís de Camões, surrounded by eight smaller statues representing other notable figures from Portuguese literature. The pedestal is adorned with cobblestone images of mermaids and ships, evoking Camões’ epic poem “The Lusiads.” A kiosk behind the statue serves refreshments from morning to night.
  • Convento do Carmo: One of the most iconic landmarks in Chiado is the Convento do Carmo, a 14th-century church whose gothic ruins are considered one of Lisbon’s most hauntingly beautiful sights. The church’s roof collapsed during the devastating 1755 earthquake, and unlike much of the city, it was never rebuilt, serving as a poignant reminder of the disaster’s destruction. The church’s chancel remains covered and houses a small, eclectic archaeological museum showcasing sculptures and artifacts from across Portugal, as well as a curious pair of South American mummies.
  • National Museum of Contemporary Art of Chiado: Art enthusiasts will appreciate the National Museum of Contemporary Art of Chiado, which took over a former convent in 1911 and underwent a complete renovation in 1994 when Lisbon was the European Capital of Culture. The museum expanded to an adjacent building in 2015 but still lacks sufficient space to display its entire collection of works by the most prominent names in modern and contemporary Portuguese art. As a result, the museum hosts temporary exhibitions featuring selected pieces. Visitors can end their tour by relaxing on the landscaped, sculpture-filled terrace.
  • Terraços do Carmo: The Terraços do Carmo, terraces that were once occupied by police barracks, are part of Chiado’s renovation plan following the great fire of 1988. Designed by architect Álvaro Siza Vieira, these terraces were created to serve as a public recreational space, offering stunning views over Rossio Square and the castle. Located behind the Carmo Convent and the Santa Justa Elevator, the terraces also feature an open-air bar.
  • Bertrand Bookstore: Booklovers will delight in visiting the Bertrand Bookstore, the world’s oldest bookstore, founded by two French brothers in 1732. Located on the main street, Rua Garrett, this iconic store offers a wide selection of bestsellers and classics, displayed on wooden floor-to-ceiling shelves, as well as national and international newspapers and magazines.
  • Teatro Nacional de São Carlos: The Teatro Nacional de São Carlos, Lisbon’s premier opera house, is a must-visit for music and threare enthusiasts. Although smaller than its predecessor, which was destroyed in the 1755 earthquake, the theater boasts fine rococo decorations and excellent acoustics. The theater presents operas throughout the year and features a delightful restaurant with outdoor seating on the square, which occasionally transforms into a stage for free classical music concerts on summer evenings.

Chiado is also home to several beautiful churches, including the Basílica dos Mártires, Igreja da Encarnação, and Igreja do Loreto. Each of these churches boasts unique architectural styles, impressive interiors, and fascinating histories.

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