During the Industrialization, a moment of economical growth back at the end of the 19th century gave birth to a big problem: housing. Population was growing with all the newcomers looking for a job in town… and no place to stay.
The tenements we know by the name of “vilas” were a new solution: a small quarter inside a quarter, sometimes just a “patio” with a gate – a unique “island” inside the city for the workers to live in, in most cases without paying rent, along with the necessary infrastructure.
Joaquim Tojal, a Brazilian entrepreneur and son of Portuguese emigrants just arriving to Portugal, decided to invest and start this project called Vila Berta. Look for the panel with the 1908 Art Nouveau tiles with the name “Villa Bertha” and you won’t miss it.
The terraced house street is very picturesque and quiet, a hidden pearl located just 50m from the busy Largo da Graça. It shows innovative thinking with modern architecture (remember this was more than one century ago!). On your right, walking towards the tunnel at Rua do Sol à Graça, all houses have two floors, decorative tiles and were made for the working class, while on your left, they look much more extravagant and luxurious, with iron balconies decorated with flowers and showing a bourgeois look. They were built to accommodate an upper class.
Check this beautiful street just two steps from the Flea Market and have a nice walk around Graça quarter.