A slice of Lisbon’s History
The history of Confeitaria Nacional is intertwined with the history of Lisbon itself. Founded by Balthazar Roiz Castanheiro, an authentic pastry chef, opened in 1829 in Praça da Figueira in Lisbon, where the Main House is still located today.
It has survived fires, earthquakes and political changes, remaining firm in its elegance and in the art of well doing. Its building, with a stunning tiled facade, is a testament to Lisbon’s neoclassical architecture.
The founder's ancestors were already linked to the raw materials business for the sector, as several documents were found, the oldest of which is from 1753, in which family members with that status appear. Another document dates from 1803, during the reign of D. Maria I. In this document Balthazar Roiz Castanheiro is elected "eldest judge" of the Brotherhood of Nossa Senhora da Oliveira, Patroness of Confectioners.
Confeitaria Nacional was founded in 1829 by Balthazar Roiz Castanheiro. In 1829, the metropolitan population of Portugal was just over 3 million. It was a turbulent period in Portugal - which was in the middle of the Civil War, fought between liberals and absolutists - at stake was the respect for the rules of succession to the Portuguese throne. Nothing intimidated the young Balthazar who opened a space that quickly became a place of choice for Lisbon's elites. The quality always demonstrated meant that the distinctions were added up over the years. Balthazar Roiz Castanheiro knew how to achieve fame and recognition for 40 years.
Recipe book written by the founder, dated 15 July 1852.
The railway line from Lisbon to Porto was completed. But when the Confeitaria was founded, not even Mala-Posta existed. It had ended between Lisbon and Coimbra for having made financial losses. People traveled by carriage and litter.
Only when Confeitaria Nacional was already 38 years old was the death penalty abolished in Portugal.
After the death of Balthazar Roiz Castanheiro, in 1869, his youngest son, Balthazar Castanheiro Júnior inherited the company. Balthazar Junior excelled in irreverence and innovation.
It was at Confeitaria Nacional that the first telephones in Lisbon were installed, between its factory and the Confeitaria. Later, after the Telephone Company was established, its conservation was handed over to the Company and this private telephone remains until today, with a symbolic number, without connection to the network.
In 1871, gas lighting was inaugurated at the Confeitaria Nacional, of which 373 m3 were used in September at 60 reis each, supplied by the "Companhia Lisbonense d'Iluminação a Gaz".
With the rental of the meter (for 50 lights), the "high" amount of 22$980 was paid that month.
In 1872, Balthazar Castanheiro Júnior ensured that Confeitaria Nacional had front page honors in the Jornal Diário Ilustrado, by opening a room on the first floor with such refinement that at the time it amazed Lisbon residents. The newspaper reads: "he founded an elegant hall, with splendid offices (...) all revealing a certain good tone, which, in short, has attracted the first families of the capital, for whom it was not difficult to understand the usefulness of an establishment that is unique in its kind in Lisbon".
But more than just taking care of the space, Balthazar Junior wanted to see Confeitaria Nacional's products recognized. In pursuit of this objective, he ordered master confectioners to come from Paris and Madrid who improved the quality of the specialties – from sweets, jams to fruit liqueurs.
The prestige achieved among the people of Lisbon led Confeitaria Nacional, in 1873, to request the status of supplier to the Portuguese royal house, declaring that it had "good credit and commercial reputation". The status was granted to it by charter of King D. Luis I.
Balthazar Júnior was the founder of Doçaria Romântica in Lisbon. In the years that followed, Confeitaria Nacional won several awards at international exhibitions (1873 Vienna, Austria; 1876 Philadelphia; 1878 Paris and 1884 Lisbon).
In this constant search for innovation, it was also Balthazar Junior who brought the recipe for the famous Bolo Rei from France. Thus, Confeitaria Nacional is proud to have introduced Bolo Rei in Portugal. The recipe remains unchanged to this day and only two people know its secret – the current owner and the House's oldest pastry chef.
When the first cars appeared in Portugal, Confeitaria Nacional had already surpassed the respectable age of sexagenarians.
In its long life, Confeitaria spanned the reigns of D. Maria II, D. Pedro V, D. Luiz I, D. Carlos I and D. Manuel II - until the proclamation of the Republic in 1910.
Throughout the 20th century, Confeitaria Nacional continued to thrive, thanks to the preference of Lisbon residents and business acumen, which knew how to preserve precious practices and knowledge that only experience made possible.
In 1913, Rafael Castanheiro Viana, the great-grandson of the founder, took over the business, also with an innovative vision - wanting to promote Confeitaria Nacional in the advertising and journalistic media of the time.
Informed of the new advertising techniques, in the 40s, Rafael Castanheiro Viana (great-grandson of the founder), commissioned a new stylized logo, which marked his management period. Even today, the Confeitaria Nacional logo is based on this version from the 40s.
Also in 1940, Confeitaria Nacional saw its public importance for the city's history recognized when the President of the Republic Marechal Carmona, in a solemn session, presented it with the certificate of Casa Centenária from the Lisbon Commercial Association. Confeitaria is still a supplier to the Presidency of the Republic today.
Distinguished by CNN (...) In various corners of the world, pastry shops have been perfecting their creations from generation to generation - turning them into works of art. Here are nine of the world's oldest pastry shops - tried and approved by visitors for centuries (...) Confeitaria Nacional (Lisbon) is a pastry shop full of details and ornaments, with cream-colored walls, with gold finishes and dominated by a mirrored ceiling. It opened in 1829 in an imposing corner building in Praça da Figueira.