A Luz Ideal is located in Bairro de São João,
in the northern borough of São Domingos de Benfica, in Lisbon.
THE NEIGHBORHOOD THEN
The neighbourhood (Bairro de São João) is a group of buildings from the initial urbanization phase of the Estrada da Luz area, in the 1950s. The project by architect Trindade Chagas is from 1953 and comprises 4 parallel blocks, perpendicular to that road. The modernist architecture with a northern European flavour (a rare event in this part of town), with a friendly scale and careful balance between roads and pedestrian / garden areas, provided a happy environment and healthy neighbourhood for the families that first settled here. In the photo reproduced above, the neighbourhood was 10 years old. The street was still two-way and in the background one can still see farms. In the corner that is now occupied by the cafe we can see the fruit crates of Mr. Lino's grocery (not sadly missed, apparently…).
The NEIGHBOURHOOD NOW
The neighbourhood is still inhabited by a lot of the families who settled here over half a century ago. In many cases it is the next generation that now inhabits the house that once belonged to their parents. In other cases, there are new young families attracted by the same qualities that fifty years ago brought here those other couples: the scale and friendliness of the neighbourhood and the peace that provides near the now much more boisterous Estrada da Luz. Trees have grown (the poplars have now been replaced by other more resistant species), and in the space behind the two central blocks there is a playground and fitness apparel for older people. The shops of yore - one at the end of each block - all have different occupations from the original. There is new butcher shop (that recently replaced the old one), and quite few new shops: two other cafés, two hairdressers, one decoration shops. And, of course, there is A Luz Ideal.
São Domingos de Benfica, one of the most populated Lisbon boroughs, is mostly a residential and commercial one. Tourists (as well as other Lisboans, for that matter), don't come here seldom. When they do, they do it mainly for three reasons: the Zoo, the unmissable Palácio Fronteira and, of course, SL Benfica's stadium and museum.
Recently, a few tourists from all parts of the world seem also to come this part of town in search of a small corner café, famous for its lemon cake or its tomato soup... Who would figure that?...