Cervejaria Trindade: Devote, Profane and Esoteric
800 years ago it was a convent and later a boutique brewery. From one to the other, the walls of Trindade tell us the story of the oldest brewery in Portugal
Right at the entrance, the nature of the tiles rise a question: is this a brewery or a Masonic Lodge? It is a brewery, Trindade is the the oldest on in Lisbon, and Portugal, still running. If you brought an apron all folded in your pocket, you’re wrong but do stay: beer is always beer and at least you can drink it on the perfect scenery.
This history of the building starts in the 13rd century, when it was founded as the Convent of the Holy Trinity (Convento da Santíssima Trindade) to accommodate the friars Trinos da Redenção dos Cativos. With the mission of rescuing wars prisoners from the Moors, I’m not surprised that, to find the guts for the task, they’d start drinking right there, as crossing the battlefield to save some compatriots must have been a hard task.
The great earth quake in 1755 has destroyed a great part of the convent and other buildings in the hill; the famous expression “falls the Carmo and the Trindade”, is used to describe to catastrophes and refers to the fallen convents nearby. Trindade’s one was rebuilt (unlike Carmo, which goth ruins are visited nowadays almost in the same condition as after the natural disaster), but about ten years later a huge fire destroyed Trindade, only 13 days after its re-inauguration. From the fire only the Church, library and cafeteria were spared, the latter being the main dining room today.
Sala dos Arcos, today, and on the banner the Cervejaria Trindade during XIX century
The biggest collapse, generalized to the entire Clerk, was the extinction of the Religious Orders in 1834 during the Portuguese Civil War and the beginning of the political liberalism. The great convent was partially destroyed, as part of the new Urbanization Plan for Lisbon; Manuel Moreira Garcia, a northern entrepreneur has rented two lots, one occupied by the ruins where he built Trindade’s Brewery (Fábrica de Cerveja Trindade).
The smart man took advantage of the building’s remaining walls and decorated them (as seen until this day) with the tiles rescued from its demolishing.
The entry and the first one to open to general public in 1840, fill with tiles on Masonry
In 1840 a counter for selling beer was open to the public, set on the first room from what was left of the cafeteria. It is said that the brewer wanted to be accepted into a major Masonic Brotherhood, and paying attention to the tiles on this first room that is almost certain. All the esoteric iconography is there, the Eye and the Triangle highlighted. In 1863 with the opening of the remaining areas in the building, Manuel Moreira Garcia hired Luís Ferreira to continue this Freemason speech on the new tiles: the 4 seasons and the 4 elements, anthropomorphic images of Industry and Commerce, among others.
The main room, occupying the old cafeteria for the Friars, with tiles signed by "Ferreira das Tabuletas", in 1863
In 1920 the management in Trindade changes: after inheriting the brewery, the employees form a society with the help of José Rovisco Pais (know in Lisbon as "Ferreira das Tabuletas"), soon becoming its unique owener.With his death in 1932, Trindade is put on public auction.
In 1946, under new leadership, the most ancient brewery in Portugal was extended and took the space of the old convent church, where it would be installed the beer production. A small anex wal built on the old cloister and Maria Keil was the artist in charge of the decoration, working under the theme still life with pure and modernism, almost cubism, bringing it closer to the era. Even more she done it with boldness, using the ancient technique of the Portuguese pavement putting the floor on the walls. It is my favorite room at Trindade since the first time I’ve got in, forty years ago.
The room decorated by Maria Keil, on the left fresh new during the 40's, and on the right in the present
It is said “you went to Rome and haven’t seen the Pope”, right? The Cervejaria Trindade has the same status: coming to Lisbon and not visiting Trindade, even just to take a peek at the entry, is not coming to Lisboa. But don’t just get in: go, sit down and ask for a steak (they’re the best in town, nouvelle cuisine for what?) and a girafa, the largest beer served. Only after this you can tell your friends yes, you’ve really seen and met Lisbon.
P.S.: incidentally, you can visit the exhibition “Entre a Cruz e os Cativos – 1218/2018” at Torre do Tombo until 7 july, celebrating 800 years since the construction of the convent for the brave friars, whom I bet used to drink a bit before rescuing prisoners from the Moors.
More information here
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