Em Lisboa em Nós de Célia Pilão oferece-nos um inquietante roteiro que passa pelos lugares mais emblemáticos da cidade onde se cruza com personalidades de vários tempos.

Lisbon in Us by Célia Pilão

This week we’re giving voice to an intrepid hospital administrator who fell in love with the artistic heritage of Lisbon’s Civil Hospitals. She said that in the latest years she has bugged everyone. Glad you did! In Lisbon in Us by Célia Pilão gives us a stirring tour that includes the most emblematic places in the city, where she meets personalities from different times.

We are honoured to be sharing this text. Thank you Célia!

You’ll find the explanation of the characters and terms of this amazing story in the Appendix.

This Lisbon that I love…

Lisbon has been in my blood since 1971. No, I wasn’t born here. I got here. I escaped from Guarda, from the freezing cold, to the city of light.

And I’ve stayed around here. Today I’m going to downtown Lisbon. I need to talk and relax.

I take the bus 726 that goes to Sapadores and get off at S. Bárbara Square. As soon as I get to Almirante Reis, I greet the soldier and at Intendente I disguise a manguito (I don’t like these authorities). I prefer Benformoso where I have a bica with Cardoso Pires.

I continue to Mouraria and there comes Severa with the love of Vimioso. She told him to get lost. She likes the nights in Mouraria and Bairro Alto the most, where the pocketknives “sing” under the blessing of the saints of tiles.

Before Severa sings Rosa Maria’s fado for me, I wish her good health and I go to São Domingos Square. Between you and me, I’ve always liked to gossip about the great “events” of good and bad memories, which haven’t left this place for more than seven generations, as my aunt Lina would say.

I go up Chiado and I seem to see Luiz Pacheco taking a taxi, maybe with the 20 paus borrowed by Soares. In the air, Cesariny appears flying over the statue of Camões. On the right is França with his glasses on the Pombaline Downtown projects, sitting at Pessoa’s table, who says nothing, firm and rigid.

I fear for my mental health and hurry to Calçada do Combro. Luckily, I see Kalaf Epalanga going down, but I only catch him at Poço dos Negros. He was going to meet Manuel João Vieira who already had a plate of Portuguese style pork liver with potatoes.

I found a table nearby and was torn between cachupa, kebab or French crepe.

Without missing a single part of the conversation, I leave them sneakily when I realise Kalaf’s philosophy collides with Vieira’s facial grimaces and I fear an aesthetic explosion.

I stroll to the Tagus River and there they are,  the sculptural buildings taking over part of the bank. This fixation of the rich turning into humanists or art lovers and wanting to take the place of the caravels to launder capital sins, irritates me.

Afternoon falls and I go home. I travel through Lisbon of the golden visas, the fake charming hotels, the CR7 brand, the codfish cake with Serra cheese, and the egg custard with Nutella. I hear in voice-over the preaching of the heralds of planning, managing, organising, and modernising. They want to format and sophisticate the soul of Lisbon.

Sly old men peek at female tourists with rolling suitcases.

I speed up my pace to catch the metro, but only in Liberdade Avenue because I always look at the Foz Palace in hopes that Grandela will invite me to a makavenkal supper.

I continue to Benfica, in time to do my nails and have a coffee and a cheese bread.Tomorrow I’ll take the 717 and go to Fetais.

Célia Pilão in São José Hospital, next to a artwork by Bárbara Assis Pacheco, photo by Rosa Reis. Tágide, collage by Célia Pilão
Célia Pilão in São José Hospital, next to a artwork by Bárbara Assis Pacheco, photo by Rosa Reis.
Tágide, collage by Célia Pilão
Lisbon in Us by Célia Pilão
Mini introductionI’m Célia Pilão, I was born in 1952, in Trinta (village of papa blankets), in the district of Guarda, in a family linked to the wool industry. In 1971, I came to Lisbon to study and laze around. I always attended public education and my job was, for 36 years, the administration of public hospitals. They say I worked a lot and I believe it. In recent years, I fell in love with Colina de Santana and I bugged everyone to see the heritage of Lisbon’s Civil Hospitals. I tried and I try to see the world that I can to become more humble and tolerant. I might not do it, because my grandmother Jesus always told me that I was a rebel just like my great-grandfather, Francisco Inácio. We’ll see!
An inspiring placeS. Domingos Church
An unmissable visitSantana Hill with a good storyteller
Her mouth waters with…A roast suckling pig sandwich in Pombalina Café with a draught beer
A song…Inquietação by José Mário Branco


Almirante Reis – Carlos Cândido dos Reis (1852-1910), military man, Carbonari, hero of the republican revolts. After the establishment of the Republic, the Rainha D. Amélia Avenue was named after him.

Intendente – Diogo Inácio de Pina Manique (1733-1805), magistrate, General Intendant of the Police, founder of Casa Pia.

Manguito – Gesture performed with two arms, crossing one over the other, keeping one of them vertical, and which serves to offend someone. This gesture is associated with the famous character of Zé-povinho, a creation of Raphael Bordalo Pinheiro, from 1875, which symbolically represents the Portuguese people, naive, sensitive and suspicious, who resist those who oppress them.

Benformoso Benformoso Street in Mouraria, today is a place of multicultural crossover.

Bica – A term commonly used in certain areas of Portugal, including Lisbon, for a coffee that is similar to espresso.

Cardoso Pires – José Cardoso Pires (1925-1998), rightly considered one of the greatest Portuguese writers with a literary career marked by restlessness and wandering.

Severa – Maria Severa Onofriana (1820-1846), mythical fado singer, prostitute from the Rua do Capelão in Mouraria with a short and tragic life story. She has maintained a relationship with the Count of Vimioso and by his hand has sung in noble halls of the city.

Fado da Rosa Maria – Reference to the famous fadoHá festa na Mouraria” (There is a party in Mouraria) that describes the festivities in this neighbourhood around the Procession of Lady of Health. At that time, the entire population gathers in devotion, including the “badly famous women” personified in Rosa Maria.

Luiz Pacheco – Luiz José Gomes Machado Guerreiro Pacheco (1925-2008), was a Portuguese writer, editor, literature critic and communist with a paradoxical and disconcerting personality.

Paus – slang for escudo, Portuguese currency before euro.

Soares – Mário Alberto Nobre Lopes Soares (1924-2017), Portuguese lawyer and politician, co-founder of the Socialist Party in 1973. He was Prime Minister of Portugal (1976-1978 and 1983-1985) and President of the Portuguese Republic (1986-1996 ).

Cesariny – Mário Cesariny de Vasconcelos (1923-2006), poet and painter, considered the main representative of Portuguese surrealism.

Camões – Luís Vaz de Camões (c. 1524-1579 or 1580), one of the greatest figures in Portuguese-speaking literature and one of the great poets of the western tradition. Represented in a monument designed by the sculptor Victor Bastos (1830-1894), present in Luís de Camões Square.

França – José Augusto Rodrigues França (1922-2021), Portuguese historian, sociologist and art critic, considered a major name in the historiography of Art in Portugal.

Pessoa – Fernando António Nogueira Pessoa (1888-1935), poet, philosopher… considered by many to be the most universal Portuguese poet. He is represented, at the door of the A Brasileira café in Chiado, in a statue by Lagoa Henriques (1923-2009).

Kalaf Epalanga – Musician, chronicler and contemporary record editor, born in Angola in 1978.

Manuel João Vieira – Manuel João Gonçalves Rodrigues Vieira, born in Lisbon in 1962 is a musician and painter.

Cachupa – A traditional Cape Verde dish.

Grandela – Francisco de Almeida Grandella (1853-1934) was a politician, Republican, industrialist and merchant.

Makavenkal Supper – related to the Makavenkos, members of a society founded in 1884 that had Francisco Grandella as one of the best-known figures. It was a group of friends, enthusiastic about the pleasures of life, who gathered in different places, most of which have disappeared, perhaps the most emblematic one is located in the basement of Foz Palace.

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