In the 18th century, Lisbon was one of the wealthiest cities in the world, thanks to overseas trade and the South American colony that had brought considerable wealth to Portugal for years.
However, on November 1, 1755, Lisbon underwent significant changes. On that Saturday morning, many residents of the Portuguese capital were in overcrowded churches, as it was All Saints’ Day. Around 09:40 AM, the city was suddenly struck by a powerful earthquake measuring 8.0 on the Richter scale, shrouding the city in a large dust cloud. People quickly sought safe places, such as higher ground or the banks of the Tagus, where no buildings stood. However, minutes after the earthquake, the water receded, revealing the riverbed, followed by a tsunami that flooded the lower city of Lisbon.
In the interactive museum Quake, you take a journey back in time and experience how the city in 1755 was devastated by this powerful earthquake. The museum not only provides insight into the events of 1755 but also allows you to experience how you would react when the ground beneath you starts to shake. It is truly an impressive experience.
Earthquake adventure for the whole family
Together with our daughters aged 5 and 9, we decided to visit Quake on a rainy day, which opened its doors in the summer of 2022. The museum tells a captivating story about the dramatic earthquake that struck Lisbon 265 years ago.
Purchase tickets in advance, as there is a limited number of tickets available per time slot, and it sells out quickly. Upon entering the museum, you receive a wristband that not only grants access to the museum but can also be scanned at various locations for additional information and to take photos. Unfortunately, we did not receive this additional information..
Back in time: an overwhelming journey to the 1755 earthquake in Quake
Descending the stairs, as a visitor, you go back two centuries to relive the morning of November 1, 1755. It is remarkable how the museum has surpassed itself with the detailed scenes they have recreated. From the very first moment, we were fully immersed in the story, starting in an abandoned laboratory. Here, you meet the professor who challenges us to travel back in time, searching for crucial missing documents. The professor warns of risks associated with such a journey. In the next room, we first went to an educational training space to be well-prepared. Without giving away too much, as a visitor, you embark on a time travel, and once in Lisbon of 1755, you get the chance to experience what it’s like to be in the heart of the earthquake itself. NAfter the shocking event, you enter the office of Marques de Pompbal. Where you will get information about Lisbon’s reconstruction.
Quake with children: An exciting journey and tips for parents
I had checked beforehand whether Quake was suitable for young children. The Quake website recommends it for children aged 6 and above. Children under 3 are not allowed (and you cannot take a buggy on the journey). Children aged 4 and 5 have free entry but cannot enter the simulation platform, which is the most interesting part you wouldn’t want to miss. Despite that, we decided to buy a ticket for our 5-year-old daughter, who is not easily scared.
The whole journey went well until we arrived on November 1, 1755, at 9:40 AM, and the ground started shaking. Our 5-year-old found it quite exciting and provided the other visitors in our group with an extra experience with her screams, similar to what probably happened on that infamous morning. She found it really thrilling when it all began. Our 9-year-old daughter, on the other hand, thoroughly enjoyed the entire journey. My advice is, if you’re going with young children from 5 years old, don’t let that deter you. Have some snacks in your pockets (backpacks must be stored at the entrance) in case the initial fright sets in. Luckily, there was an ice cream shop, Santini, next to the museum, where we bought ice cream after our visit to ease the shock, which helped a lot.
In the heart of the museum district of Belém
Quake is located in a brand-new building in Belém, amidst the museum district. Other renowned museums and tourist attractions, such as the Museu dos Coches, MAAT en Mosteiro dos Jerónimos. are just a stone’s throw away and are all worth visiting. If you get hungry, there are also charming restaurants nearby where you can enjoy a tasty lunch, such as Rui dos Pregos and Frazão. Or take a stroll to Pastéis de Belém for delicious warm pastél de nata. .
A must-visit and an unforgettable experience!
Quake is absolutely a must-visit! What makes Quake so special is how it brings the past to life. From the moment you step into the museum, you are immersed in a world of reconstructions and stories. The experience is so fascinating that you are guaranteed not to stop talking about it.