Remolares neighborhood… Does it ring a bell? The famous CAIS DO SODRE in Lisbon was once the neighborhood of Remolares.
Today (2020), it is a real park for tourists. In the past, it was many things: a parade area for famous and rich people, a square for World War II spies, a prostitution area, sailors, and a danger to public health. Here is a brief written portrait of the most famous pier in Lisbon.
VIRTUAL TOUR TO CAIS DO SODRE LISBON
CAIS DO SODRÉ IN LISBON
Those who visit the Sodré wharf today will find a renovated space, with the garden of the Ribeira das Naus dominating the landscape and offering a magnificent view of the Tagus.
At night, entertainment and alcohol come into play, abundant in the many bars and restaurants that can be found there.
CAIS DO SODRE LISBON STORY
But let’s go back now to the 19th century. We’re now in the center of the Remolares neighborhood. Today’s gardens give way to dirt and a river beach where mud predominates. The situation is serious and dangerous for everyone’s health. Why? The explanation is simple:
“since city waste was often dumped, it became a serious threat to public health”
In the 19th century, the Sodré Wharf began a process of renewal and expansion. The works lasted approximately 12 years (between 1855 and 1867). In this process, structures (warehouses) were built to store the products that were arriving at the pier. These goods were, essentially, from small boats and fishermen who lived in the area of Lisbon and its surroundings. Fishermen sometimes associated with businessmen linked to the import and export of products.
It should be noted that at this moment in history (1860), the area of the Sodré wharf begins to be inhabited by entrepreneurs who decide to live there because of the proximity to the wharf and the business they could do there.
With the commercial dynamic that began to develop at the end of the century (1890-1900), the Sodré Quay was already a reference to the city of Lisbon and also a national reference.
We cannot forget the many artists (writers, poets and intellectuals) who frequented Lisbon’s cafés.
During the 1920s, there was already an offer of cafés and clubs for different segments of the population. The upper class of society frequented sophisticated cafés and clubs.
These places were not accessible to the lower classes of society (sailors and people who worked in the port of Sodré Quay). This is how the bars and clubs of the quay of Sodré appear. It was in Nova do Carvalho street (today known as “pink street”), that several cafes and taverns were opened that housed the lowest class of the Lisbon society of the 20s and 30s.
Later, between 1930 and 1980, discos like “Jamaica”, “Europa”, “Tamisa – hoje chama Tóquio”, “Texas Bar – where today is the Busic-Box” and “Shangri-la – hoje chamada de Bar do Cais do Sodré” appeared.
The famous “Pension of Love” owes its name to the time when sailors and prostitutes were there.
The 90’s of the last century and the beginning of the 21st century were difficult for Cais do Sodré.
With the dynamization of other areas of Lisbon (Bairro Alto, Santos, Docas, Alcântara), Cais do Sodré was left to crime, street prostitution, and heavy drugs. This transformation motivated part of the residents to leave for other areas of the city.
But everything changes! The last 15 years have seen a positive change at the cais do Sodre Lisbon. With the increase in tourism and the investment in bars, restaurants, and tourist lodgings, the Sodré Pier has become a noble area of the city again.
Today everyone has a good opinion about the Sodré Pier (maybe the exception is the older residents who live there and who are already saturated with the noise of nightlife)!
It is a place that attracts many tourists, many university students (Portuguese and foreigners), and many young entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs. There, they feel they are in the heart of the beautiful old city of Lisbon.
WHAT TO SEE AND WHAT TO DO AT TCAIS DO SODRE LISBON
A must for all tourists visiting the capital!
Formerly called Terreiro do Paço, the Praça do Comércio is probably the most visited square in Lisbon. It was the place where the kings of Portugal lived for 2 centuries. Today, it still belongs to the Portuguese state and is the place where we find several public departments.
It is a large square (36,000 square meters), and one of the largest on the European continent. The square was renovated after the 1755 earthquake, which was led by the Marquis of Pombal. The various buildings on the trade square have been used by different government departments over time. Today there are also many hotels, restaurants, bars and cafés that use the spaces that once belonged entirely to the government. This is where we can find the famous Café Martinho da Arcada! The oldest coffee shop in Lisbon and one of the favourite cafes of the great and immortal Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa.
No one knows exactly what date the column pier was built. It is only known that it was finished before the 19th century.
It was to the Pier of the Columns that many of the boats that brought important heads of state who, in other times, visited the capital of Portugal, arrived. It can be said that this mythical place was, for a long time, a kind of golden entrance of the city. Today it is only a pier used by the boats that make the connection between the city of Lisbon and Cacilhas (on the South Bank of the Tagus).
To say that in the Pier of the columns many people dared to take a bath naked. This fact, if it still causes us strangeness today, was in the past a cause of great controversy. This construction is, undoubtedly, a landscape element of great fame and importance of this area of Lisbon.
AUGUST STREET ARCH
Triumphal arch that lies in the northern part of the trade square. The construction follows the Pombaline reconstruction (after the 1755 earthquake) but only in 1873, the monument was completed.
In the upper part and also in the lower part of the arch, we can see several sculptures that represent different personalities of Portuguese history (Nuno Álvares Pereira, Viriato, Vasco da Gama, Marquês de Pombal).
CACILHAS BOAT – CAIS DO SODRE LISBON
Cais do Sodré is also a starting and ending point for many people who live on the other side of the Tagus River. For those who want to enjoy Lisbon from another perspective, we strongly recommend the boat trip between Cacilhas and Cais do Sodré. The boats used in this crossing are deliciously old and open on the upper floor. This configuration will allow you a magnificent view of the city of Lisbon to go to Cais do Sodré in particular. The trip is particularly pleasant during the summer months.
The journey takes only about 8 minutes and the frequency between boats is quite high. A ticket costs just over $1 and if you avoid the rush hours, the boat is almost empty. In Cacilhas don’t miss lunch or dinner in one of the many good restaurants you will find there. Not to be missed!
SODRÉ TRAIN STATION
The train leaves from the railway station at Cais do Sodré. The station was built at the end of the 19th century and opened its doors on September 4, 1895. Today it is a monument of public interest.
Also at Cais do Sodré is the Cascais line train. I’m Lisbon, I’m 43 years old and I’ve taken the train between Cais do Sodré and Cascais countless times. I can assure you that it is always a great pleasure! The journey takes about 30 minutes and that time should be used to enjoy the waterfront and the beaches of the Cascais line.
RIBEIRA DAS NAUS GARDEN
On a beautiful sunny day, Ribeira das Naus is today one of the most sought after places in Lisbon. It was recovered in the last decade and was in the past a shipyard for the construction of ships. Today it presents itself as a large space, with an extensive lawn, with a river beach and a huge staircase that connects the space to the river Tagus.
On a mild day (and there are many in Lisbon), space is flooded by people who come there to enjoy the sun, the view to the river, and to rest. The sunset is something that should be on your list of things not to miss in Lisbon!
RESTAURANTS AT THE CAIS DO SODRE LISBON
SOL E PESCA RESTAURANT
A small restaurant on the new Rua Nova do Carvalho (the famous Pink street of the Sodré pier), where you can eat canned fish, tapas, and preserves. It has an overall Google rating of 4.3 and over 890 comments. The space is small, with a decoration related to fishing and a family atmosphere.
Positive comments refer to sardines with chilli as a specialty of the house and also the friendliness of the staff is commented on several times.
PORTUGAL AT THE CAIS OF SODRÉ
It’s located behind the Sodré pier. The quality of the food is good and the price is affordable (about 35 euros for 2 people). The restaurant has a beautiful view of the Tagus River. It has many comments on google (over 1250 comments) and an overall rating is 4.1.
The positive reviews highlight the quality of the beer, the Portugália steak and the good seafood that is eaten there.
THE BARS AT THE CAIS DO SODRE LISBON
Cais do Sodré bars have attracted many people since the beginning of the 20th century. The first concentration of bars and taverns took place on Rua Nova do Carvalho, today known as the pink street. It was on this street that the first bars were opened that were frequented by sailors, people, Porto do Cais do Sodré employees and prostitutes who deprived there with their customers.
Over time, and in other areas of Cais do Sodré restaurants and discos were also born. Some of these spaces still resist today but with different names.
Nowadays, with the tourist growth, it is difficult to choose where and the bar to go. Here is a recommendation.
PENSION OF LOVE
Building rebuilt after the 1755 earthquake and part of the Pombaline renovations. Much more than just a bar, it is today a reference in Lisbon’s nightlife
It opened in 2011 and represented a sign of the change that would take place in the environment of Cais do Sodré. The love pension was once the place where prostitutes and sailors (from the four corners of the world) met. There were 4 boarding houses that rented rooms by the hour.
The bad reputation of the place is definitely behind us. Today, space is sought after and visited by people from all over the world, attracted by a warm, red-toned decoration that does not hide its past. There, culture has found its space: theatre, poetry, concerts, every day there is room for different forms of cultural and artistic expression. Today, the pension of love is a place of culture, meetings, discussions, passions, and also a place that you can’t miss visiting and meeting.
But the charms of the boarding house of love are not exhausted in its decoration and culture. Eating and drinking well is easy in this place. Space does not dispense also a visit to the last room of the local bar where you will know the Purple Rose erotic boutique. There you will find space for love and even for lust. But know that staying here is definitely a thing of the past. The love pension no longer offers this possibility but it is a guarantee of a very well spent night.