“Confeitaria Nacional” is the oldest pastry shop/confectionery in downtown Lisbon. It opened in 1829 and became popular especially during Christmas time when it sells the specialty “Bolo Rei.” “Bolo Rei” (literally “King Cake”) is known as Portugal’s traditional Christmas cake, but its origins are actually in France. That’s where the recipe was brought from in the mid-19th century, by the Castanheiro family which is still behind the now-classic shop in PraÃ§a da Figueira. It’s been copied all over Portugal but the original, and many swear the best, is still in Lisbon’s Confeitaria Nacional. The secret is strictly following the original recipe which has stayed with the family for almost two centuries.
Over the years the shop has won international prizes in cities like Vienna and Paris, and its reputation led to the Portuguese royal family to make it their official baker.
For this year’s 180th anniversary, there is no special celebration going on, but the exterior of the shop is decorated in the Christmas spirit, and Lisboetas and tourists are lining up at the counter to get their own “Bolo Rei” or to try one of the sweet pastries. Upstairs is a tea room, and a separate section serving a daily special menu of traditional Portuguese dishes at lunch time.