Human Interest

Lisbon’s Doll Hospital: Preserving treasures for nearly 200 years

Lisbon, Jan 15 (EFE).- Nestled in the busy streets of downtown Lisbon, the world’s oldest Doll Hospital has been repairing dolls of all sorts for nearly two centuries

“It is a place where “nostalgia” and memories of childhood are healed, and where we try to give a new lease of life to very old and much-loved dolls,” Manuela Cutileiro, the hospital owner told Efe.

Like any other hospital, when a ‘patient’ arrives a file is opened, the subject is examined and assigned a bed number, where it will wait to be transferred to one of the two surgery rooms.

“We take the most similar piece possible and fix it,” said Cutileiro, who is a fifth in line from the original founder of the repair shop.

A huge range of dolls and stuffed animals have passed through the hospital, “from the oldest to the most current” and, regardless of their age, “they all have the same value,” she added.

The Doll Hospital, one of the oldest of its kind across the globe, turns 192 years this year.

The business dates back to 1830 when Carlota da Silva Luz decided to make rag dolls while selling dried herbs in a small shop in Lisbon’s bustling Figueira square, the current headquarters of the center.

“People got used to it and since it was the place where the All Saints Hospital was located, which was destroyed by the 1755 earthquake, they began to associate it with the hospital, then with dolls, and gradually, we kept that name,” Cutileiro, a descendent of da Silva Luzda, added.

The hospital has been treating patients from all over the world including Eastern Europe, Israel, the United States and Spain.

Besides fixing the dolls, the center makes carnival outfits for children and traditional Portuguese costumes.

Next to the hospital, there is a museum that houses over 4,000 dolls that have been either purchased or donated by visitors.

The collection includes dolls of different kinds and sizes, including centuries-old porcelain, German dolls from the 1930s, religious images and Barbies. EFE


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