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Discover Casa das Lérias, which was once a magnificent bakery known for creating Amarante’s famous pastry, the Lérias.

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Casa das Lérias, a member of Historic Hotels Worldwide since 2023, dates back to the 1930s.


For centuries, the pastoral community of Amarante had been known throughout Portugal for its delicious baked goods. Countless families had regularly made their own confections, going door to door to share their creations. Perhaps the most famous treat was the Lérias, a sweet, jam-based cake that resembled a North-American modern jelly donut. While many in Amarante could make the delicacy, only the nuns of the Santa Clara Convent had ever produced them in great quantities. Adored all over Amarante, their Lérias emerged as the most beloved version of the pastry in the area. Unfortunately, the nuns had also baked the treat discretely and did little to impart their knowledge onto others. That recipe was thus thought lost forever when the convent eventually closed during the 1860s. But thanks to the genius of Alcino dos Reis, the Lérias of Santa Clara Convent was imaginatively reborn generations later. Originally hailing from Massarelos, Alcino dos Reis moved to Amarante as a teenager in 1899. He was soon enchanted by the local culinary atmosphere and started learning how to bake Amarante’s celebrated pastries. Demonstrating great skill, Reis mastered nearly all the techniques in just a short amount of time.

However, one pastry had managed to elude him—the nuns’ Lérias. Reis subsequently spent many more years attempting to rediscover its baking processes, using a combination of experimentation and oral research. After toiling for what seemed like ages, Alcino dos Reis came to believe he had finally unearthed the historic recipe in 1910. He eagerly presented his concoction before the residents of Amarante, who staunchly agreed that the Lérias of Santa Clara Convent had been resurrected. Reis went about making the Lérias for public consumption, which became his most prized confection. The success even enabled Reis to open his very own bakery by the eve of World War I, calling it first “Confeitari a Flaviense” and then “Confeitaria Amarantina.” But the building gradually grew too small for Reis’ baking activities, and he shifted his entire operation into a much larger structure near Amarante’s iconic Ponte de São Gonçalo during the 1930s. Designed with beautiful Art Deco architecture, the gorgeous edifice became synonymous with Alcino dos Reis and his delectable Lérias. Indeed, Reis’ bakery—now known as the “Casa das Lérias - Confeitaria Amarantina”—had emerged as a cherished landmark in the months following its relocation.

The Casa das Lérias - Confeitaria Amarantina remained a communal fixture for decades, even after Alcino dos Reis’ death in 1967. Nevertheless, the building had ceased functioning as a bakery at the beginning of the 21st century. Facing an uncertain future, a hospitality company known as “Mercan” obtained the erstwhile storefront and turned it into a stunning boutique hotel. Over the course of several months, the architectural team brilliantly transformed the interior floorplan to accommodate 23 lavishly decorated guestrooms that provided breathtaking views of Amarante’s historic downtown. But the architects also endeavored to protect as much of the building’s historical character as possible, ensuring that its original architecture remained perfectly intact. In fact, Mercan set aside space to open a wonderful café that could serve as a tribute to the Casa das Lérias - Confeitaria Amarantina and its innovative owner, Alcino dos Reis. Open as the “Casa das Lérias” since 2021, this amazing historic hotel is now one of the region’s most exquisite getaways. Cultural heritage travelers are certain to enjoy its tranquil setting, luxurious amenities, and magnificent story.

  • About the Location +

    While the exact origins of Amarante remain clouded in mystery, ancient historical records have indicated that the city has existed since at least the 4th century B.C. Known then as “Turdetanos,” the community served as a waypoint for those traveling along the banks of the Tâmega River. Other sources have attested that a Roman centurion named Amarantus came across the settlement years later amid Rome’s conquest of the Iberian Peninsula. Those same tales allege that he then claimed the town on behalf of the Roman Empire and called it “Amarante.” Whatever the truth, Amarante flourished and it continued to function as a local transportation hub for the countless people making their way through the region. This significance managed to outlive Rome, too, enduring well into the height of the Middle Ages. In fact, one of the earliest Portuguese monarchs—Queen Mafalda of Savoy—commissioned the creation of a shelter for travelers in Amarante called the “Albergaria do Covelo do Tâmega.” (Queen Mafalda of Savoy was the wife of King Afonso I, who is credited with establishing the Kingdom of Portugal in the 12th century A.D.)

    Amarante underwent more growth following the arrival of Sao Gonçalo during the 13th century A.D. A Dominican friar, Gonçalo had gained regional fame upon completing an arduous pilgrimage to Italy and the Levant. He then settled in the city and became a recluse, devoting much of his time toward studying religious texts and prayer. But Gonçalo had also grown fond of his new home and worked hard to safeguard the community’s general welfare. He thus oversaw the development of many gorgeous structures that helped give Amarante the unique appearance it still possesses in the present. Perhaps Gonçalo’s greatest civic contribution was his creation of a beautiful stone bridge (the Ponte de São Gonçalo), which he constructed personally by hand! The work that Gonçalo achieved made Amarante a pilgrimage site in its own right, especially in the years after his beatification in 1561. To honor of the late priest, King João III of Portugal even constructed a magnificent Baroque-style church called the “Igreja de São Gonçalo” to house Gonçalo’s tomb. (Sao Gonçalo remains a popular cultural icon today, with the city’s residents hosting annual festivals in his memory.)

    Despite its pastoral character, Amarante nonetheless found itself in the middle of the titanic Peninsula War a few centuries later. (A theater of the much larger Napoleonic Wars, the Peninsula War was a multiyear conflict that saw the military forces of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte attempt to subjugate Spain and Portugal.) In 1809, a sizeable French column under the formidable Marshal Soult advanced on Amarante, having spent the previous fortnight chasing several Portuguese and British units through the countryside. To discourage any local resistance, the French subsequently sacked much of Amarante. However, the action only galvanized the populace, who joined together with a small Anglo-Portuguese infantry brigade stationed on the other side of the Ponte de São Gonçalo. Together, they guarded Amarante’s historic crossing for another two weeks until the French were able to outflank their position. Even though the battle was a tactical defeat for the Portuguese and the British, their stubborn defense acted as a national source of inspiration. Indeed, the Portuguese commander—Brigadier General Silveira—gained a knighthood, while the residents of Amarante received a royal coat-of-arms.

    Amarate has remained a bucolic, tranquil community that cultural heritage travelers love to visit. Many of the city’s historic sites are incredibly popular tourist attractions, such as the Solar dos Magalhães, the Igreja e Convento de São Domingos, the Ponte de São Gonçalo, and the Igreja de São Gonçalo. Amarante is also renowned for its wonderful connection to the arts. Many noted Portuguese artists and writers have lived in the area over the years, including Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso—a talented cubist painter who was active in Amarante during the early 20th century. Regarded as one of the best artists of his era, Amarante currently celebrates his heritage by maintaining a fascinating modern art museum downtown known as the “Museu Municipal Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso.” In addition to art, Amarante is a terrific destination to experience authentic Portuguese music. The community has hosted various amateur philharmonic groups and thrilling music festivals for decades, earning it a coveted status as a UNESCO City of Music. Amarate is even a renowned culinary destination due to the unique pastries its inhabitants have historically baked. One of the best places to sample these special confectionaries is the historic Confeitaria da Ponte, which has been open in Amarante since the 1930s!

  • About the Architecture +

    Although most buildings in Amarante display variations of Romanesque style architecture, Casa das Lérias stands today as a stunning example of Art Deco design motifs. Art Deco architecture itself is among the most famous architectural styles in the world. The form originally emerged from a desire among architects to break with earlier precedents to find architectural inspiration from historical examples. Instead, professionals within the field aspired to forge their own design principles. More importantly, they hoped that their ideas would better reflect the technological advances of the modern age. Historians today thus consider Art Deco to be a part of the much wider proliferation of cultural “Modernism” that first appeared at the dawn of the 20th century. Art Deco as a style first became popular in 1922, when Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen submitted the first blueprints to feature the form in a contest to develop the headquarters of the Chicago Tribune. While his concepts did not win over the judges, they were nonetheless widely publicized. Architects in both North America and Europe soon raced to copy his format, giving birth to modern Art Deco architecture. The international embrace of Art Deco rose so quickly that it was the central theme of the renowned Exposition des Art Decoratifs in Paris a few years later. Architects the world over fell in love with Art Deco’s sleek, linear appearance defined by a series of sharp setbacks. They also adored its geometric decorations that featured motifs like chevrons and zigzags. But in spite of the deep admiration people felt toward Art Deco, interest in the style gradually dissipated throughout the mid-20th century. However, many examples of Art Deco architecture still survive today, with some of the best located in major European cities like London, Paris, and Lisbon.