What is that building above Porto Brandão, on the other side of the river? An old pesthouse, once the biggest in the world
Have you ever heard of the Lazareto de Porto Brandão? Maybe you’ve seen it from the northern margin of the river Tejo. It’s a peculiar building, in ruins, in Porto Brandão. It use to be an hospital that served as a quarantine place for those who arrived in Lisbon. Then it became a place for former soldiers, then, orphan girls and then families coming from the ex-colonies.
Over the hill above Porto Brandão, opposite side of Torre de Belém, the 2nd of May Asylum or Lisbon Lazareto was built by António Joaquim Pereira in 1869. It was considered “the biggest lazareto of the world”.
During the First World War, it hosted “convalescents and exhausted soldiers” coming from France and the North of Africa. In the following years, it was a military prison, sheltering the insurgents. Finally it would become a children’s asylum, where about 1500 children from other asylums in Lisbon were housed. Later, it would be known as the 2nd of May Asylum, housing orphan girls and becoming a section of Casa Pia (a Lisbon institution founded to house orphans and the homeless).
But the landslides soon started to threaten the building: in 1958, a roof fell, killing two people, one was the daughter of an anarchist from Almada, José da Silva Gordinho. The building would then be abandoned.
Years later, the storms that displaced many families in Almada led to their housing in Lazareto. And it was there that 150 families and 600 people lived, coming from the ex-colonies, after the Carnation Revolution. In 1996, after a landslide that led once more to the death of two children, its walls were completely abandoned… until now. There are news that this old building has been bought by Chinese investors with the intention of turning it into a hotel. And then, maybe, all the history will be forgotten.