The ancestors of the founder were already on the soft commodities trading as several documents were founded dated from 1753, where some members of the family were mentioned in the statues of this “cartel”. Another document is dated from 1803, from the time of the Queen D. Maria I – in this document, Balthazar Roiz Castanheiro is elected senior member of the Pastry Association.
Confeitaria Nacional was founded in 1829 by Balthazar Roiz Castanheiro.
In 1829, Portugal population was just over 3 millions.
When Confeitaria Nacional was founded, King D. João VI has died just 3 years ago. His son had declared Brasil independent 7 years before (1822).
A time when the country was going through rough times, with a civil war taking place fought by liberals and absolutists concerning the rules of the succession of the Portuguese throne. But the war did not intimidate young Balthazar, who founded the pastry/coffee shop, which rapidly became a place of election for the Lisbon elites.
Book of recipes written by the founder Balthazar Roiz Castanheiro and dated July 15th, 1852
Train between Lisbon and Porto was inaugurated in 1864, just 35 years after Confeitaria’s foundation. The only way of traveling was in a “Liteira”
With the death of Balthazar in 1869, his youngest son, Balthazar Castanheiro Junior, took over the company. Balthazar Jr. excelled for his irreverence and innovation.
Gas light was inaugurated in Confeitaria in 1871. And Confeitaria Nacional has the first telephone installed in Lisbon connecting the shop to the factory. This line still exists.
In 1872 Balthazar Jr. managed to place Confeitaria Nacional on the front page of a daily newspaper. On the newspaper a picture of the upstairs tearoom was illustrated which surprised everyone with its refinement. On top of the image the newspaper wrote “founded an elegante lounge with exceptional spaces attracting the most famous Lisbon families (…)”
As well as being worried about the space, Balthazar Jr. was more worried about making Confeitaria Nacional´s products recognized. In search of the best quality standards he hired confectioner masters from Paris and Madrid to improve the quality of the specialties, pastries as well as of the jams and fruit liquors.
Balthazar was the leader in romantic pastry in Lisbon which resulted Confeitaria Nacional to receive various international awards (1873 Vienna; 1876 Philadelfia; 1878 Paris and 1884 Lisbon).
Nesta procura constante de inovação, foi também Balthazar Junior que trouxe de França a receita do afamado Bolo Rei. Assim a Confeitaria Nacional orgulha-se de ter introduzido o Bolo Rei em Portugal. A receita mantém-se inalterada até aos dias de hoje e apenas duas pessoas são detentoras do seu segredo – o proprietário actual e o pasteleiro mais antigo da Casa.
The prestige conquered amongst the citizens of Lisbon led to Confeitaria Nacional in 1873 to ask the status of supplier of the Portuguese Royal House declaring to have “good credit and commercial reputation”. The status was granted by King D. Luis l.
In this constant search for innovation led Balthazar Junior to bring from France the recipe of the famous “Bolo Rei” (King Cake). With this said Confeitaria Nacional is proud for having introduced the most traditional cake in Portugal. Until today Confeitaria Nacional keep producing this cake using the same recipe and only two people in the whole company know the secret – the current owner and the top confectioner who has been working for the company the longest.
A famous portuguese writter, Gervasio Lobato used to write in Confeitaria Nacional and CN was the scenario of one of his theater place.
CN was already sixty years old when the first car (automobile).
Confeitaria went through kingdoms D. Maria, D. Pedro V, D. Luiz I, D. Carlos I and D. Manuel II – till Republican Revolution in 1910.
Along the twentieth century Confeitaria Nacional continued to thrive thanks to the preference of the people of Lisbon and their entrepreneurial ingenuity which managed to preserve practices and precious knowledge which only with experience can be achieved.
In 1913 Rafael Castanheiro Viana, great grand son of the founder, took over the business with an innovative vision, wanting marketing Confeitaria Nacional on newspapers and news media at the time.
In the 40s, Rafael Castanheiro Viana (great grand son of the founder), ordered a new logo, which marked his time as the owner. Until today, the current logo is inspired and based on the 40s version.
Also in 1940, Confeitaria Nacional´s public importance for the city´s history was recognized when the President of the Republic Marechal Carmona awarded Confeitaria Nacional with the Century Home Lisbon Commercial Association degree. Confeitaria Nacional is currently the supplier of the Presidency.
Distinguished by CNN
(…) In a few lucky corners of the world, pastry makers have been perfecting their creations for generations, reaching the point where they’re works of art. Here are nine of the world’s oldest pastry shops — tried and trusted by centuries of cake-hungry visitors.
(…) Confeitaria Nacional (Lisbon)
An ornate pastry shop with cream-colored walls trimmed in gold and overlooked by a mirrored ceiling, the Confeitaria Nacional opened in 1829 in a stately corner building on the “Praça da Figueira” square. It’s still run by descendents of the founder.
The traditional Portuguese Christmas cake Bolo-Rei (King’s Cake) was brought to Portugal by Confeitaria Nacional’s Balthazar Rodrigues Castanheiro Filho from the south of France in the 19th century.
Based on the seasonal French favorite Gateau des Rois, the Bolo-Rei is a bread-like cake with raisins, candied fruits and nuts.
At other times of year, it’s worth trying one of their popular pasteis de nata custard tarts.
(…) It’s arguable which is more ornate, the shop’s exterior or the pastries inside. Confeitaria Nacional has been serving its custard tarts to the people of Lisbon since 1829.
(…) Lisbon’s Confeitaria Nacional is known for its Bolo Rei Christmas cake – a recipe including dried and candied fruits that was imported from France in the 19th century.