Public outcry as one of Lisbon’s landmarks faces demolition to make way for hotel

It’s the capital’s “last great centre of creation” for artisanal painted ceramic tiles and it is just shy of its 100th birthday, but owners Vista Alegre and Visabeira are adamant. It has to go to make way for a boutique themed hotel.

Connoisseurs, culture buffs and everyday citizens are in uproar, with one describing it on Facebook as an “enormous shame”.

Whipping up contention, former journalist Catarina Portas has said the demolition of the downtown Chiado’s Fábrica Sant’Anna in Rua Alecrim is a shame not only for the council – which has sanctioned the move – but for the owners, whose “pretentions” have got the better of them, she considers.

The stunning old building which gives on to Calçada da Boa Horta is a landmark in history, claims Portas, and as such needs to be fought for.

Boss of the company Francisco Tomás has told Público how “every day tens of people of all nationalities” pass by to visit the building that “has become known worldwide” for its place in Lisbon’s history.

Slapped with eviction orders, Tomás said: “With effort we can get over this.”

The business that began in 1741 (this outlet is its second) has been through “many crises”, he explained. “We will fight so as not to die on the beach, but it won’t be easy.”

Indeed even the owners of the Chiado’s shopping centre have rallied to the cause, appealing Vista Alegre and Visabeira to “come to their senses” and ensure that the old Fábrica at least has a place in the refurbishment programme. This far there have been no such answers or assurances.

The owners have simply confirmed that the stunning building’s architectural features will be preserved, but that the current state of degradation requires profound restoration.

For now, the hotel, “dedicated” to Portuguese ceramicist Bordallo Pinheiro, is scheduled to cost around €5.1 million with completion set for 2016, writes Público.

By NATASHA DONN [email protected]