There are not many shops in Lisbon that can boast Franz Liszt as one of its customers. Back in 1845 Caza das Vellas Loreto received a request to supply extra candles to illuminate the salon where the great Hungarian composer was to be received shortly before conducting a concert at the city’s grand Teatro Nacional de São Carlos. The proprietor duly obliged and Liszt, by all accounts, was suitably impressed, having remarked upon the candles’ sweet scent.
The beautiful teak-panelled interior of Caza das Vellas Loreto, a candle shop trading since 1789 — Photo courtesy of Paul Bernhardt
The theatre still stands today; so does Caza das Vellas Loreto. In fact, this delightful little boutique gem has been making and selling candles since 1789, and is quite unique.
Run by the Loreto family for six generations, the shop is remarkable for its teak-paneled interior, the dark wood lending the premises a rich, organic veneer that’s immediately appealing and evocative of a less hurried and more dignified era. Actually, entering the shop is like stepping back in time.
Every candle on sale is handmade. At the rear of the premises is a workshop where a busy team of artisans produce an imaginative variety, anything from traditionally-crafted slim taper candles to chunky, thickset pillars. There’s also a quirky selection of specialty candles molded or sculptured into three-dimensional shapes such as fruit, birds and even cupcakes (so realistic-looking it’s difficult not to bite into them).
The very finest candles are created using beeswax; the honey-coloured stems resemble sticks of treacle. These are also some of the most decorative, embellished as they are with filigree gold leaf.
The shop is a potpourri of fragrance. Candles are scented with lavender, cinnamon, vanilla, pomegranate and honey, to mention just a few of the bouquets. Little wonder then that Mr Listz was so enamored with Mr Loreto’s wares.