A Glossary of Ice: The words of ice production and trade

Almocreves (muleteers)
The people who ensured the transport of goods on pack animals. In this case, they were responsible for transporting the snow to Lisbon.

The unit used (1 pound), at the time the factory was in operation, to measure the quantities of ice.

Augusto Frederico Rodrigues Lima
The last owner of the factory, which in its latest years stopped producing ice and operated only as agricultural land.

The designation given to the thin plates that formed in the freezing tanks, when the water they contained froze during the winter nights.

Casa da Neve
The place in Lisbon that took in the blocks of ice after the crossing of the Tagus. Later, Café Martinho da Arcada, still in operation today, was built here.
Snow wells, or depressions of glacial origin. They had to be cleaned regularly and kept well covered to conserve the ice.
Freezing tanks, or ice boxes, or trays
The 44 units of the ingenious system for collecting the water, which was extracted from the wells and sequentially distributed along these shallow tanks (30 cm). Each tank is independent but intercommunicating. At the time, it was a highly sophisticated engineering system.
Julião Pereira de Castro
The notable owner of the Royal Montejunto Ice Factory, which was in his hands for over fifty years. He served as chief snow trader of the kingdom since 1756, supplying the royal household with ice for many decades. He was responsible for expanding the complex, in 1782, and for building the ice production and conservation building.
King João V
The snow factory started working during the reign of King João V.
King José I
The snow factory’s peak period coincided with the reign of King José I.
It was produced in the factory, in the lime kiln, and was used to coat the storage silos, thus ensuring their hygiene. It was also used in the construction mortars of the ice production and conservation building.
The closest village to the ice factory, from where the workers – who departed on foot during the cold winter nights – came to collect the “caramel” from the freezing tanks and then transport it to the conservation silos.
Royal House
At the peak of the ice factory’s operations, the regime in Portugal was a monarchy. Since ice was, at that time, a precious product, it was mainly the royal family who benefited from it. The ice produced in the snow factory first supplied the Royal House, and only then some (very few) cafes and hospitals.
Silos or wells
The deep structures that, after the ice was collected, kept it in the best conditions throughout the winter. When the warm season arrived, the ice was removed from the silos and then cut, compacted and packed, to be sent to Lisbon.
Snow boats
The designation given to the vessels that transported the ice blocks across the Tagus River, between Vala do Carregado and Terreiro do Paço. The journey took twelve hours.
Snow factory
A common alternative name for the ice factory. Its origin is in pre-industrial European units that collected and stored natural snow.
Snow traders (neveiros)
These were the ice traders, responsible for the so-called «snow business». In addition to the chief snow trader of the Royal House, there were also the city’s snow traders and the people’s snow traders.
Straw, hay and burlap
The ice blocks were wrapped in these materials before being shipped to Lisbon. They prevented the ice from melting quickly, preserving it during the long hours of crossing between Serra de Montejunto and Terreiro do Paço, in Lisbon.
Vala do Carregado
After being packed, the ice blocks were transported in mule-driven carts through Serra de Montejunto, until they reached this place, where in the 19th century a pier was installed. This was the last stop before the «snow boats» carried the ice across the Tagus and docked at Terreiro do Paço.
A machine for extracting water from the wells, essential for the ice factory. Drawn by an animal (a donkey), it consisted of a wheel made up of buckets, that is, small water containers that were lowered into the wells and returned full of water, which was then poured into the reservoir through a gutter, before being distributed to the freezing tanks.