Anyone who gets a glimpse of this pleasant 17th-century palace, serene under the shade of the Alvalade trees, has no idea that the Coruchéus Library has lived several lives, survived the great earthquake, served noble purposes and less noble ones, like when it hosted the extramarital escapades of Felipe II of Spain, I of Portugal.

Built in the 17th century, the old Palace of Coruchéus, in the heart of Alvalade district, was the main house of the Quinta dos Coruchéus, an agricultural property with about 4,000 square metres of vegetable garden, orchard and olive grove. The peaceful and bucolic routine of the farm was suddenly broken by the earthquake in 1755, which almost brought the palace down.

If it is still standing, it is by the grace of Felipe I, who was looking for a place to accommodate his concubines. A haven for royal adventures, it changed hands over the years until it went to the actress Maria das Neves at the beginning of the 20th century. A resident of the top floor, she rented the building to a dozen or so tenants, who lived in one-room accommodation.

Already in the hands of the City Council, from 1945 onwards, the building was considered uninhabitable due to its bad conditions and it was even considered demolishing it. But Alvalade became a fashionable neighborhood in the 1970s, nd the decision to restore the Palace had a lot to do with it. It became an arts center until 2013, when the City Council made it a public library.

Since then the Coruchéus Library became a convivial space for the neighbors.

By Álvaro Filho