If you’ve ever wondered about the huge abandoned building attached to the famous Portugália restaurant on Almirante Reis, you’re in luck. Atlas photographer Lorena Velasco takes us on a tour inside the crumbling walls of the former Germânia beer factory, established in 1913 and designed by architect António Rodrigues da Silva Júnior.
The fábrica originally occupied a 15,000-square-meter lot in Arroios. In 1916, after Portugal’s entrance into World War I, the name was changed from Germânia to Portugália in an attempt to distance the company from any and all ties with Germany. However, three years after the war ended, the company hired German brewmaster Richard Eisen to head the brewing process, which was being carried out by top-of-the-line machinery and had recently been expanded to produce their own signature malt from domestic barley.
Distribution was carried out by horse and cart, shipped in large barrels all over the city. The public was also invited to bring jugs, jars, or the like to fill and take home, and the lines could get quite long. In 1925, the company decided to branch out into retail with the opening of their tasting room, attached to the side of the factory so those waiting would have something to do.
In 1956, the beer hall got a facelift and was reconstructed into the edifice you see today. Sadly, the restaurant is all that has survived, and not much is known as to why the factory was abandoned. If you walk around the fenced-off site today, you can see that pieces of the original grounds have been sold to developers, or, in the case of the main building and the smoke stack, left to ruin.
You can still enjoy some of the best steaks and seafood in Lisbon, possibly occupying a chair that once hosted artists like Amália Rodrigues, Vasco Santana, or Raúl Solnado, who were reportedly regulars of the restaurant.
Unfortunately, the factory’s 10-year stint showing films alongside their brews ended in 1966, but if you like cinema, you can check out the terrace that Portugália claims was featured in the 1933 film, A Canção de Lisboa (at minute 1:10:40). However, film buffs disagree — they say it was shot at the then popular Salão Jansen off of Rua Alcerim. Luckily, this beer hall did have Portugália beer on the menu.