Right in the corner between two of Oporto’s most emblematic streets —Rua da Fábrica and Rua do Almada— rises a substantial building constructed in the 19th century. Declared World Heritage by UNESCO...
Right in the corner between two of Oporto’s most emblematic streets —Rua da Fábrica and Rua do Almada— rises a substantial building constructed in the 19th century. Declared World Heritage by UNESCO for its architectonic, cultural and historical value, it currently hosts Hotel Internacional and restaurant Almadinha, well known for a singular mix between tradition and quality of service. Hotel Internacional was founded in 1905 and endured several managements until 2014, when it was acquired by the Barrias group.
Nevertheless, Hotel Internacional was not the first famous tenant of the building. Between 1820 and 1880, it accommodated one of the most popular coffee shops in Oporto of that time. The famous Botequeim das Hortas showcased a large pool billiards room and three large halls: one for the bourgeoisie, another one for the artists and a third one for the common people. Established by Domingos José Rodrigues, it was frequently visited by personalities such as Camilo Castelo Branco.
About the busy coffee shop, that owes its name to Rua das Hortas —Rua do Almada’s original name, for its proximity to Praça das Hortas, which is currently Praça da Liberdade— writes Ramalho Ortigão: “In old Botequeim das Hortas every evening one could play lotto for 20 cents the card. When one of its glass doors opened, with its white transparent curtains, a spicy perfume of capilé syrup and toasted coffee would fill the whole street…”.
On the first floor of the same building also stood Sociedade Filarmónica Portuense. Founded in 1840 by piano player and composer Francisco Eduardo da Costa, this society would play a major role concerning music programming and diffusion in Oporto, organizing countless concerts and recitals where both emergent talents and recognized musicians coincided. In 1880, Sociedade Filarmónica Portuense merged with Clube Portuense, later becoming Grémio Portuense and then adopting back the name Clube Portuense, which is still its current designation.
The Barrias family, who besides Hotel Internacional manages numerous remarkable establishments, has its inclinations well rooted in the past. Head of the family enterprise with its origins in Vila Real, it was Agostinho Barrias’ passion for historic coffee shops that allowed for the rehabilitation of reference venues such as Majestic and Guarany. But the Barrias also have their objectives well set for the future: besides businesses such as Hotel Aliados, Hotel Pão de Açúcar, Hotel Vera Cruz, the Majestur travel agency and several bakeries —which supply their various coffee shops and hotels— new surprises are currently being prepared for Oporto, surprises that we’ll fully disclose in the next chapters of this story.
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