Thursday, 23 March 2017

Lisbon Chronicles | The Secret Abbey

In the basement of Palácio Foz lies the secular space of the old Abadia Vínica Restaurant. This mysterious place (unknown to most locals) is surrounded by secrets, full of stories and all covered with symbols. Private clubs, secret societies, groups of conspirators are the ingredients of the stories your guide will tell you in the scenic ambience of this underground place.

After an opulent beginning, in the beginning of the 20th century the palace was repurposed and, in 1917 a Patisserie (Pastelaria Foz) was inaugurated in the ground floor. This posh establishment was the place of choice for the elegant ladies to reunite for the afternoon tea.  But, in the basement, there was happening something totally different.

The Abadia Vínica (Wine Abbey) was the place of reunion of a private gentleman's club known as the Makavenkos. The club, founded in 1884, presented gastronomic and bohemian purposes, but the rumors and stories associate its members to the masonry. In 1917, the Abadia Vínica Restaurant becomes one of the meeting points of the Makavenkos that held there amazing feasts while fraternizing with beautiful ladies (Makavenkas), some would most probably be of easy virtue, as one of the rules was that no Makavenko could relate to the same Makavenka for more than two weeks.

The interiors reproduce the Cloister and Refectory of a medieval abbey, both profusely decorated with all sort of symbols. You can find there revivalist decorative elements, so much to the taste of the Belle Epoque. An initiation well in the Cloister and the busts of 20 known masons in the Refectory contribute to the perception that the Makavenkos was indeed more than just a foodies and womanizers group of men.

Although the place is not open to the public, you can schedule a visit with Lx Secret Places tours that I strongly recommend. Jorge, the guide, has a deep knowledge of the place and of the Makavenkos club and will catch your attention with a detailed description of the past days of Abadia and of all of its decorative and architectonic features.

Lx Secret Places has regularly planned visits, but you can contact them to check if its possible to held a non-programmed visit in the days you are visiting Lisbon. The tour includes the visit to the Claustrum, to the Refectorum, without forgetting to go through the mysterious cells. This visit has a duration of 45 minutes and it can be held in English (for booking a non programed tour, please visit the site).

In this visit I was a guest to Lx Secret Places, but as you can read above, this article and all the opinions included are my own and result of my experience in visiting Abadia Vínica.

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