Café Martinho da Arcada on the Ice Route

In the last decades of the 18th century, fresh drinks and ice cream became part of the menu of the most elegant cafés in Lisbon. One of them was Martinho da Arcada, initially called Casa da Neve (literally “Snow House”), precisely because it housed the ice blocks that, coming from the Royal Montejunto Ice Factory, in Cadaval, arrived by boat at Terreiro do Paço. This establishment then supplied the Royal House, Hospital de Todos os Santos and… the tables of these cafes. 

From 1829, it was called Martinho da Arcada, named after its new owner, Martinho Bartolomeu Rodrigues. He was the last snow trader of the Royal House, a position he inherited from his father, Martinho Rodrigues de Carvalho, who in turn had inherited from his father-in-law: Julião Pereira de Castro, the great promoter of the Royal Montejunto Ice Factory and, at the time, holder of the ice monopoly in Portugal. A crucial point on the Ice Route, when ice was a rare, fragile and precious product, Café Martinho da Arcada was a meeting space for the nineteenth-century bourgeoisie – and also where strawberry ice cream became famous. Since then, it has remained a reference in the capital.