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16 August, 2023

Miniature city

A model of Lisbon by fireman Luís Pereira de Carvalho is on display at the Museu de Lisboa – Palácio Pimenta, until September 3.

Luís Caetano Pereira de Carvalho (1863-1933) was a builder, master carpenter and the 2nd Commander of the Lisbon Municipal Fire Brigade. These three dimensions came together in his model of Lisbon, a work he started in 1906 and patiently developed over 26 years, though sadly never finished.

The fireman’s model (as it is affectionately known by the Museum of Lisbon team) has been held in the Municipal Council of Lisbon’s collection since 1954 and has been researched by technicians from the Museum of Lisbon, the Municipal Fire Brigade and Luís Caetano Pereira de Carvalho’s family.

The exhibition The city in miniature: A model of Lisbon by fireman Luís Pereira de Carvalho is the result of this research. Beyond the history of the model and its creator, the exhibition allows visitors to better understand part of Lisbon in the early 20th century and the challenges its structure posed for the safety of people and property in the event of fire.

Although it was made about a century ago, there are many differences with the Lisbon of today. Praça da Figueira was still host to an iron and glass market (demolished in 1949), Praça do Martim Moniz had not yet been defined, and the castle, which is now a tourist attraction, still served as a military garrison.

With 1:1000 scale and entirely made in painted wood, the model is a reliable document of the city from the early 20th century, with all the buildings carefully studied and represented with the characteristics and colours they had at the time.

During the exhibition, the Museum of Lisbon will publish a book with the research undertaken on this model which, measuring 2.21 x 0.89 m, portrays a part of Lisbon located between the Terreiro do Paço and Intendente station, with São Jorge castle and the Nossa Senhora da Graça viewpoint limiting the east and the Praça dos Restauradores and Campo Mártires da Pátria the west.