500 years of history
Nearly 100 enshrined in the present-day café
Imagine how majestic your everyday must be when you sit at the table of a Café and are, at the same time, inside a church? This Café is the Santa Cruz, in Coimbra, Portugal. The church is that of S. João de Santa Cruz.
Now that you are inside, you can see all the construction of the building, designed by architect Diogo de Castilho, dates back to 1530 and was intended for full use by the “Crúzios” Canons Regular. With the expulsion of the religious orders in 1834, the church of S. João was desacralized and has, since then, housed a hardware store, a police station or a post office and even a funeral agency.
Located in the historic area of Coimbra, the “Santa Cruz”, as it is usually known, is the renowned Café that has benefited from the passion which has been preserved between the family generations which have run it. Perhaps because of this, it so harmoniously links its tradition with the contemporary aspects, such as soirees, exhibitions, morning discussions about politics or the weekend football game, as example of a space which has resisted time and throughout time. It recalls its Coimbra roots, such as Fado and the historical references of the Monastery of Santa Cruz.
It was in the 1920s that Adriano Ferreira da Cunha, Adriano Viegas da Cunha Lucas and Mário Pais thought of the space we are talking about as being a Café Restaurant, and that it could even be a national point of reference. Visionaries! This is because the Café Restaurant Santa Cruz opened its doors on 8 May 1923 and from that day on it has reinvented itself without abandoning the almost sacred nature embodied in the simple act of having a coffee in coups charged with the symbolism, or reading a newspaper, looking at the magnificent stained glass windows, admired every day by tourist who came down town specifically for this purpose. The stained-glass windows, in fact, arose an alteration to the design of the façade by the architect Jaime Inácio dos Santos.
You cannot leave this page without knowing that here you can enjoy the “Crúzios”, a speciality with monastic roots, confectionery based on as old recipe: egg cream and sliced almonds sprinkled with sugar. One more curiosity … the “Crúzio” is presented in a box with an illustration inspired by one of the stained-glass windows!
On 4 July of 2013, the Café Santa Cruz was awarded the gold medal of the city of Coimbra.
With around 500 years of history and around 100 years old of uninterrupted activity this is, undoubtedly, one of the cafés with history which history has not forgotten.