On Plaça da Figueira, where people come to buy renowned pastries and taxi drivers love to bicker, there is a tiny toy shop that looks like any other. But the dolls who are hanging out in the window, quietly know they’re in good hands.
If you go inside and pay a modest 2 euro you’ll be shown to a room on the first floor where hundreds of eyes are staring at you and doll limbs of all eras are neatly kept in drawers. This is the place where Lisbonites have been coming to bring their broken toys for generations. The Doll Hospital history goes back as far as 1830, when Ms. Carlota was the person to go to on market days, when your doll wasn’t feeling too well. Since then, it has turned into a family business and I was surprised to see the shelves full of patients in this age of video games and iPhones.
But the lovely guide lady reassured me that children of today were still trusting their best friends’ health into the Hospital de Bonecas’ hands. The repair service actually not only includes dolls (from antique to Barbie) but also their clothes and shoes, stuffed toys, miniatures and religious figures.
The museum is only a couple of rooms, plus the ‘operating table’ where the toys are mended but what I loved the most, even more than the weird doll bits congregated in every corners was the obvious care and passion invested into those little helpless toys.
Hospital de Bonecas
Praça da Figueira, 7
Bus: 12E, 15E, 208, 714, 736, 737, 760
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat, 10.30am-12.30pm/3.30pm-5pm