Visit the

Casa dos Bicos
- José Saramago Foundation


The black stevedores, who worked in pairs and were drenched by the water trickling from the baskets and bespattering their faces and arms with fish scales. It looked as if the entire population of Lisbon had congregated in the market place. Sete-Sóis strolled across the fish market. The fishwives hollered at potential buyers, vying for their attention with waving arms that jangled with gold bracelets, and screaming oaths, hands on hearts, bosom heaving with necklaces, crosses, charms and chains, all made from Brazilian gold.

The Casa dos Bicos is a rare example of the Renaissance architecture that outlived Manueline Lisbon. With the construction of the Royal Palace in Terreiro do Paço, the Ribeira Market was moved to the front zone of Braz de Albuquerque’s house. Before, a vegetable and fruit market, now a large square that comes from the Tagus River up to the diamond house on a dirt track, where in defined areas, all types of everything is sold and where the travelling salesman sets up tents with goods from the East, Africa and Brazil.

360º View

Casa dos Bicos - Fundação José Saramago

The ship landed at Ribeira (…) Baltazar strolled across the fish market (…) At the door of a tavern standing next to a jeweller’s shop, Baltasar bought three grilled sardines on top of the indispensable slice of bread, and blowing and nibbling as he went, he headed for the Palace.

The Casa dos Bicos building is accredited to Francisco de Arruda and stood out from the other noble houses in the area due to its original south facade. Everything indicates that Braz de Albuquerque, a court nobleman, protected by King Manuel I and son to Afonso de Albuquerque, was inspired by some of the Renaissance buildings in Italy, buildings such as the Palazzo Bevilacqua in Bologna or the Palazzo Dei Diamanti de Ferrara, as he had moved to that country in 1522, as part of the entourage that accompanied Princess Beatrice (1504-1538) to her marriage to Duke Charles of Savoy.

Coming from the south, Baltasar crossed the Tagus River on a boat and disembarked in Lisbon at the Ribeira market, precisely in front of the diamond house.