A typical Renaissance palace stands in the square like eastern part of the Rua dos Bacalhoeiros. The then chairman of the senate, Brás de Albuquerque, son of Afonso de Albuquerque, the first viceroy of India, had the "House of Facets" built in 1523 according to plans drawn up by the architects Santa Rita Fernandes and Manuel Vicente.
The extravagant facade requested by Brás de Albuquerque was built in accordance with European taste of that day - similar buildings dating from this epoch are to be found in Spanish, Italian and French towns.
Rua dos Bacalhoeiros, Portugal
Useful tips: Open for temporary exhibitions.
Transit: Tram: 3, 16, 24; Bus: 9, 13A, 17, 25, 25A, 28, 35, 39, 46, 59, 81, 82, 90.
The striking frontage gave the palace its name. It is faced in a geometric pattern with pyramid shaped, pointed stones. Association with polished diamonds gave rise to the nickname "House of Diamonds". Wilhelm von Eschwege, the architect of the Palácio da Pena at Sintra, used this diamond motif in the architecturally mixed style of the Pena palace.
The palace was built on four floors, but the two upper stories were destroyed during the earthquake of 1755. For over 200 years the House of Facets remained in its two story state and was used by fishmongers for storage. Not until 1982 were the two top floors replaced to look like the originals. (In the cloister of the Convento de Madre de Deus the original Casa dos Bicos can be seen on a tile depicting a panoramic view of Lisbon.) However, during the rebuilding of the two top stories some modern materials were used (e.g. in the windows) so that the new section can be recognized as a reconstruction.
The low flight of steps in front of the Casa dos Bicos has been constructed in the shape of a Manueline arch. After an arcitecturally interesting renovation of the palace interior, the ground floor of the House of Facets is now being used for small exhibitions while offices are accommodated on the upper floors.