Hospital de Bonecas, or The Doll Hospital, is not just the first and only shop of it’s kind in Lisbon, Portugal, but is also the oldest in the world.
I was lucky enough to visit The Doll Hospital on my trip to Lisbon in September 2019.
Lisbon’s Doll Hospital
Specialising in doll restorations, miniatures, doll clothes and toys – the shop, located on a large square in the heart of Lisbon, is a small and cosy place. However, it is not the shop itself that drew my attention, but the museum upstairs.
Read more about my time in Portugal here!
A series of rooms above the shop hold The Doll Hospital. It is a creepy yet enthralling place that has walls lined with doll parts, draws full of disembodied eyes and shelves and shelves full of broken dolls.
For the small price of €2 per person, you get a private tour of the hospital, including a run down of the hospitals history and the ability to ask any questions you may have.
A Family History
Founded in 1830, Hospital de Bonecas was a hub for children who wanted somewhere to play as their parents shopped in the market. However, it was not yet a shop but a woman, Miss Carlota, who sat outside her herb stall making cloth dolls.
At the time, Lisbon was a small town and everyone knew each other. This meant that the children had no problem telling Miss Carlota who ran the shop of their own dolls ailments.
Years later, the hospital is being run by the fourth generation to take on the responsibility of caring for the dolls, keeping the business close to home. The hospital is still very much dedicated to its mission of bringing joy to Lisbon’s children and those young at heart.
How To Find Hospital De Bonecas
Address: Praca da Figueira 7, Lisbon 1100-240 Portugal
Visiting Hours: Monday to Saturday 10h30 – 12h30 and 15h30 -17h00
The Doll Hospital is located on Praça da Figueira, a square in the centre of Lisbon.
It is easily accessible via the metro with Rossio station being a 2 minute walk away.
You can also take any of the following buses to visit the hospital: 12E, 15E, 208, 714, 736, 737, 760
Visiting Lisbon? Consider going on a day trip to Sintra!
My Review Of The Museum
I am sure, from the tone of my writing so far, you can tell that I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Hospital de Bonecas.
The hospital is family owned and you can tell. The people that work there are so passionate about their job and genuinely care about the dolls they are working on and the children that they will be returning to. Despite the eerie atmosphere, there is a wholesome feeling which accompanies the whole experience.
As well as their passion, the members of staff at Hospital de Bonecas clearly know their stuff! They were able to give me a run down of several types of doll, where they came from and how you can tell the origin point of dolls in significant detail. I learnt so much on the tour and, even if it wasn’t a fascinating place for it’s sheer uniqueness, it is definitely worth a visit just to pick up a few facts.
If you are a fan of dolls, the museum itself holds a collection of hundreds of dolls, some collected by the doll-enthusiasts that run the hospital while others were neglected by their own homes. Rooms full of dolls are around every corner and it is great fun to look into them and think about the homes those dolls have come from.
All-in-all I think there is no doubt that I would recommend The Doll Hospital to anyone! If you are a fan of creepy attractions, dolls, quirky museums or getting off the beaten track, it is definitely somewhere to go! I think the beauty of the museum is that, as it is a hospital, the ‘patients’ are constantly changing meaning that if you visit again it may look completely different.
Photographs From My Visit
Entire rooms full of dolls lurk around every corner.
Have you been to any other creepy museums or attractions?
Have you ever visited a doll hospital?