I’m going to start a random series, and I’m giving it the snappy title of ‘Buildings that look boring on the outside but are surprising on the inside’. The first building in this series is the Casa do Alentejo. I have walked past the plain façade many times and never given it a second look. It is not just the interior of the Casa do Alentejo, but it’s history, that is interesting. Built in the early seventeenth century and originally owned by an aristocratic family, it was leased to a company in 1917 who turned part of the building into Portugal’s first casino, The Majestic Club. The club became a popular venue for all night drinking, gambling and partying. The club closed in 1928, and in 1932 it was leased to the Alentejo Guild. The building was re named Casa do Alentejo, becoming the headquarters of the Regionalist Alentejo Association, dedicated to boosting, promoting and preserving the culture of the Alentejo.
The first floor of the building is a neo-Arab style courtyard, a tiled stairway leads up to the second floor, which has a library, a restaurant, and function rooms.
The library was created in 1928, with the aim of supporting education, culture and leisure by giving access to books, newspapers and magazines to the people that could not afford them. This social movement resulted in the donation of thousands of books by individuals and institutions, today the library has over 10,000 items.
The restaurant is covered in tile panels created by Jorge Colaço (beginning of the 20th century), and serves food from the Alentejo region.
The Salão dos Espelhos room, decorated in the style of Louis XVI, has decorative stucco and hand painted panels by Benvindo Ceia. The other has paintings by Alentejo born artist Domingos Costa.
The balcony on the upper floor provides a view of the street. The rest of the photos are a random selection taken on my walks around the city, I always come across something I haven’t seen before so I never tire of capturing what I see.