Today is the 10th anniversary of the opening of the new “ArmazÃ©ns do Chiado.” In a previous incarnation it was Lisbon’s version of the grand Parisian department stores such as Galeries Lafayette and Printemps, featuring a grand palatial interior (see photo below) and advertising itself in 1894 as the largest store in Portugal and with the best prices. That all came to an end in the great fire of 1988 that devastated much of the Chiado district, and the only thing left standing of “ArmazÃ©ns” was its faÃ§ade. The building had to be completely rebuilt and reopened eleven years later not as a department store, but as a shopping mall. Those who knew how it once was, were saddened to see an ordinary-looking modern mall interior take over such a legendary space of the city, but the truth is that this mall is responsible for the renovation of all of Chiado which is today Lisbon’s most vibrant and dynamic neighborhood of the whole historical center.
Its big draw is FNAC, the French megastore that’s the Portuguese favorite for music, books, and electronics. Because it also occasionally hosts cultural events, FNAC has also become a meeting place, and brought much-needed young blood to the center of the city.
What the new “ArmazÃ©ns” has not lost from the past are the views from its top floor (now a food court), from where visitors can see directly towards the castle on one side, and up the popular Rua Garrett shopping street from the other.
In another part of the building (designed by world-renowned architect Siza Vieira) is Hotel do Chiado, one of the most recommended in the city, if only for its breathtaking views and terrace bar.