Igreja do Carmo

The final traces of the medieval Carmo Convent, which was almost entirely destroyed after the 1755 earthquake.

TravelCurious Tip

If you are planning on taking the Santa Justa Lift down to Baixa afterwards then be sure to arrive early to beat the crowds

The Igreja do Carmo was first built in the 14th century by the Portuguese knight Nuno Álvares Pereira, who won favour with King John I after he lead a decisive victory against the Castillian army in the battle of Aljubarrota in 1385. This helped win Portugal’s independence from Spain, and also earned Pereira the money to finance his pet project.

A Sober Style

The church was originally built in a simple yet striking Gothic style typical of the mendicant religious orders. Massive vaulted ceilings and arched windows lent to the imposing grandeur of the building, but it was relatively light on intricate stonework compared to, for example, the ornate Manueline tradition found elsewhere in Lisbon.

The Last Trace

On 1st November 1755, when the great earthquake struck, the church was full of worshippers celebrating the feast day of All Saints. The roof collapsed, crushing hundreds beneath it, but the skeleton of the church remained, surviving the subsequent ravages of tsunamis and fires. Today the gothic ruins are one of the last remaining traces of that disaster still visible in the city.

Church Garrison

It was never fully repaired after the earthquake and instead saw use as police and military garrison before the Association of Portuguese Archaeologists converted the ruins into a museum in the 19th century. However, even as recently as the 1970s the church was where the Carnation Revolution came to a head. It was where Marcelo Caetano, the regime’s final president, and some loyal forces were encircled by military rebels. They eventually surrendered, thus ushering in the time of democratic President António de Spínola and the government of modern Portugal.

A New Purpose

Nowadays, the the archaeological museum holds exhibitions showing varius aspects of Portuguese history, including pre-Colombian mummies, ceramic tiles and the tombs of Ferdinand I and Maria Ana de Austria. It’s a fascinating collection in a completely unique setting.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Lisbon
Rossio Square
One of Lisbon's main squares since the Middle Ages, Rossio was destroyed and reconstructed after the great 1755 earthquake.
Santa Justa Lift
This urban elevator from 1902 connects the lower street of Baixa with Carmo Square.
Largo do Carmo
A small, tree-lined picturesque square at the back of the Convento do Carmo.
Baixa Pombalina
A particularly elegant district of Lisbon, the Lower Town was among the world's first earthquake-resistant constructions.
Rossio (praça dom Pedro IV)
Commence your tour at the Pedro IV Square in the city of Lisbon.
Venture through Lisbon’s historic heart and commercial centre.

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