Churches and monasteries, Lisbon
A discreet facade hides one of the best collections of portuguese treasures - the church of S. Roque also called Misericordia.
Just in the centre of town it is a simple building with four different chapels in each side. Each one of them is a masterpiece, but the chapel of S. Joao Batista, made in lapis-lazuli is astonishing. Simply... don't miss it.
Looking north from St. George's Castle, it is possible to see another great lookout over Lisbon. The Miradouro (belvedere) da Graca is shaded by tall pine trees and surrounded by small cafes, making it a popular spot for couples.
This lookout spot is backed by an Augustinian monestary (at right) first built in 1271 and reconstructed after the great quake of 1755. The steeple to the left belongs to its associated church, the Igreja da Graca. This church can still be visited and its interior features 17th century hand-painted azulejo tiles.
Mosteiro dos Jeronimos.
This masterpiece of manueline architecture was built during 70 years in the XVIth centuries at the request of king Manuel I ,as tribute to the navigators who made from Portugal an empire.Since 1983 it is a monument in UNESCO patrimony.Before,in the same place was a little church dedicated to sailors and legend says that Vasco da Gama prayed here the night before the great travel who led him to the Indies
Lisbon's Cathedral is called "The Se" and it was the first church in the city. The Romanesque and Gothic style building was inaugurated in 1150, but damaged by earthquakes in 1344 and 1755.
With its two solid towers it has a fortress-like apperance. The interior is not too exciting, but worth a quick look.
The Cathedral Se is located at the Lago da Se in the eastern part of the Baixa district. The route of tram #28 leads directly along the Cathedral.
If I could visit JUST ONE place in Lisbon, it would be this Monastery, because it has almost everything that Lisbon has to offer: A gorgeous cloister, tiles, a view, and the tram. Don't be rushed like me, and do take your time to enjoy this wonderful place. If you are francophone, you wil enjoy fabulous tiled panels illustrating some lesser known Fables de La Fontaine.
The Sao Vicente de Fora Church was inaugurated in 1629, but heavily damaged during the earthquake in 1755.
The Renaissance Church was once located outside the city walls; hence the name "de Fora" meaning "on the outside".
The cloisters of the church are decorated with many Portugues tiles (azulejos).
The Sao Vicente de Fora Church is located at the eastern end of the Alfama district. There is a tram stop of line #28 just in front of the church.
This is probably my favourite of the specific sights of Lisbon. I have been here twice now, and on both occasions fell under its calming, magical spell. On the most recent in particular, when I arrived just as the doors were opening on a quiet Monday morning to find myself in the company of only half a dozen other, respectful visitors, I wandered beneath its stone arches captivated by the peace and tranquillity. Yet this very tranquillity is deeply ironic. How very different the scene must have been on that day in 1755 when the city was rocked by a powerful earthquake and worshippers here fled for their lives as masonry tumbled about them. At that time this was the largest church in Lisbon, but today its roofless nave is laid open to the sky and only a few of its arches remain, along with remnants of the rubble that poured down on the heads of its congregation.
Only at the far end, behind where the altar would have stood, are some parts of the roof left intact, now providing cover for a few small chapels which house the more valuable or perishable of the city’s archaeological treasures, for which the ruined church now acts as a museum. Other objects are scattered among the ruins, and only a close reading of the unobtrusive signs will reveal which fragments of carvings are part of the original structure and which are brought here from other buildings and other architectural periods. For me these archaeological artefacts are the least of the Carmo’s charms – although interesting enough, Peruvian mummies and shrunken heads seem out of place here, and 13th century coins have never fascinated me. But the collection merits at least a brief look, if only to get an impression if these rather more intact parts of the church, or perhaps to visit the gift shop which appeared well-stocked with books in particular. Incidentally photography is not allowed in this part of the church.
Before leaving, pause and look back, and pay your respects to those who once worshipped here.
Admission (in 2009) €2.50, closed Sundays, otherwise 10.00 – 17.00 each day.
One hot summer afternoon...you find yourself in Lisbon, and after having seen already the many obligatory sights, you ask of yourself 'where is there a place in this city where I will be astonished, feel breathless, captivated and be tenderly pushed into an other worldliness from the usual self?'
There is a place in Lisbon, a very special place, to where you can go to lose the self into a kind of silence that lives within the long corridors between arches and ancient columns. One hot summer soon...or at any time. The place is the cloisters of the Hieronymite Monastery (Mosteiro dos Jeronimos) located in the Belem district.
A visit to this magnificent cloisters is to go thru the equally magnificent church, the Santa Maria de Belem, among the many facets of the monastery built as an homage to the safe return of Vasco da Gama's discovery of quick passage to the East opening the trade route to India. Others for new lands loaded with cargoes of finds, spices, silk, precious stones and gold for a mighty empire under the command of Dom Manuel I.
One must come, see and experience the cloisters if only and just to embrace its superlative architectural coda. It is an epitome of the dashing Manueline architectural style. You will never find anywhere a more stunning cloisters. It hugs around the center of the monastery - in two tiers - like a good belt, with arches, of endless traceries of floral and seafaring motifs - precisely the cornerstone of Manueline architecture. There are rounded bays, balustrades, delicately etched pillars, carved images, angels, gargoyles and a flood of great light. Above, is the unremitting open skies.
The cloisters was designed by two architects. The upper storey by Diogo Boitac and the lower storey by Joao de Castilho.
The monastery was built in 1502 as an offering to St. Jerome, King Manuel's patron saint.
Best time to visit it is during mid-week when the mad-rush of visitors are thinner. An afternoon here when the sun bathes the cloisters with light and shadow is magical with impressions.
This large and opulent building is made from limestone ,and I think that limestone never dreamed this. The delicacy of its sculptures ,the octogonal columns with typical ornaments of Manueline art,the stained glass windows make this monument a piece of heaven.
Between this walls are the tombs of Vasco da Gama, Luis de Camoes-great potuguese poet,various portuquese monarchs and of course the mortal remains of King Manuel I and dona Maria.
You could perhaps walk past this unassuming looking church with barely a glance, especially at the moment (May 2009) when construction work in the small square in front of it makes access difficult. But step inside and your breath will quite likely be snatched away as you take in the riot of ornamentation in its several side chapels. All of them may be considered masterpieces of Baroque art, and you can spend ages picking out all the details (I loved the little cherubs climbing all over the mouldings in the Chapel of Our Lady of Piety, photo 2).
But the star attraction is the fourth chapel on the left, the 18th century Chapel of St. John the Baptist, which may appear at first glance to be a little less ornate than some of the others, but which has been dubbed the world's most expensive chapel. It was paid for with the considerable wealth that Portugal received through its colonisation of Brazil, and was constructed in Rome using the most costly materials available, including ivory, agate, porphyry, lapis lazuli, amethyst, gold and silver. It was consecrated by Pope Benedict XIV in 1744 before being disassembled and shipped to Lisbon to be installed in the church from 1747 to 1752 – an intriguing example of an almost modern approach to mail-order decoration. Pay particular attention to the chapel's "paintings" – these are not in fact paintings at all, but extraordinarily detailed mosaics, as seen in my main photo. Today this chapel is considered a masterpiece of European art.
There is no charge for entry to the church, so please make a donation to help pay for the upkeep of these stunning chapels, perhaps in return for the helpful little leaflet (available in several languages).
There is also a museum of Sacred Art attached to the church, but on my recent visit with Ingrid we ran out of time, as the church was closing, so that will have to wait for another visit. It contains a number of 16th century Portuguese paintings, a display of vestments, and an impressive collection of baroque silver, including a pair of elaborate bronze-and-silver torch holders.
This usually overlooked church is located in the heart of downtown Lisbon, right next to the D. Maria II theater. It was partially destroyed during the 1755 Earthquake and was then restored, but the interior still show signs of great destruction.
It is an amazing feeling to be inside the church as it feels like it is going to crumble into pieces at any time! This is one of the most amazing churches that I know of.
Take a look at the travelogue for some more pictures
Finished in 1423, the construction of this gothic church (or it ruins as things are), was ordered by Nuno Álvares Pereira, a commander who was part of the Carmelite Order.
When it was built, this was the largest church in Lisbon. Now only the ruins remain as it was severly damaged during the 1755 earthquake.
This is now the site of the Museu Arqueológico do Carmo (Carmo Archaeological Museum), that can be visited from Mon-Sat 10.00-18.00 (May-Sep) and Mon-Sat 10.00-17.00 (Oct-Apr). It closes on Sundays, Christmas, New year and 1st May.
Entrance is 2.50 Eur.
The cloister itself worth a visit .When I visited M.dos Jeronimos was a sunny day so ,the white limestone ,the green grass of the patio and the intense blue sky made me quite an impression.Despite many visitors,the silent fill the air and its an excellent place to reflect.
The year was 1755. It was exactly on November 1, 1755, a date now so infamous in the annals of Portugal's history that will be forever etched and embedded in the consciousness of every Portuguese for all its existence. The great earthquake it's been called that shook and destroyed Portugal and left a devastating and an incalculable tragedy to this nation but mostly to Lisbon. At that time, Lisbon was crowned in all Europe as the most beautiful city and place of all.
And this date, that very day which was a Sunday no less, could not have been chosen by any ill-advised higher power as the resulting ill-begotten thought which inevitably produced horrific consequences....for November 1st is the day of the souls whereby on that very early morning when the Convento do Carmo (Church of the Carmelites) was packed to the gills with worshippers for the first mass. All told there were more than 40,000 citizens of Lisbon that perished from the great earthquake, a devastation which triggered a tsunami and immense conflagration destroying literally the entire city and flattenning out the nerve center of Lisbon. What remained of the city were meager portions evinced to this day by the hilly neighborhoods of Bairro Alto and the Alfama. The 1755 earthquake was of wide-ranging in its after effects that it was felt all thru Scotland and way out island of Jamaica. Even the French writer Voltaire made note of it in his novel Candide.
The Convento do Carmo which was in that period the largest church in all of Lisbon, her roof and all its upper structure fell to earth and for the most part emptied the church. What has remained are its arches, buttresses, columns and side altars left standing to this day open to the skies and the elements as a monument and testament to that spectacular tragic event of 1755...scarred, deformed but solemnly beautiful and defiant.
The Carmo, as is known to Lisboates, continues to function as a spiritual inspiration somehow serving as an open museum as well as a venue for many artistic events. It also houses the Museu Arqueologico do Carmo whose miscellaneous collection is worth visiting. There's a small fee required to enter/visit the skeletal convent.
Hymn to a Beautiful Ruin
(The Ruins of Carmo)
You forget that there is something there
Left behind - proof and defiance - all those
And memory has mistaken it as all destroyed.
Your eyes the ones dead and enslaved by new things
Turn your gaze to her
Look now if you haven't since stopped to
Notice her folded wings and resurgence
Light has so penetrated from a
Now nothing but extreme beauty
As a result open to all...the skies and conjurations
Spirit and the elements
Stones that are afterlife.
Built in the 14th century by the hero of Aljubarrota, Nuno Alvares Pereira, celebrated in Praça da Figueira, and especially in Batalha, this convent was seriously destroyed by the earthquake of 1755, and it was never totally repaired.
Now it stands as a reminder that another earthquake is coming, no one knows when, and meanwhile, it is used as the Archaeological Museum. It's almost impossible to visit Lisbon without seeing it, and it is easy to reach using the lift of Santa Justa