Basílica da Estrela is often skipped by tourists, probably because it’s not in the city centre. Big mistake, because for me this basilica is one of the most beautiful churches in Lisbon.
The Basílica da Estrela distinguishes itself with the white dome that rises high above the surroundings and is therefore characteristic of the skyline of the city. This is also because the basilica is built on top of one of the seven hills.
Holy heart of Jesus
The church is the first church in the world that is dedicated to the sacred heart of Jesus. In 1761 Queen Mary I ordered to build the basílica. The queen was very religious and promised in her prayers to God that she would build the largest church if he would give her a healthy child. In 1761 her son José was born. Unfortunately, he has never seen the construction completed. He died at the age of 28, 2 years before the completion of the basílica da Estrela.
Inside, the church is beautiful with the pink and black marble. On the right hand side of the church you will find the tomb of Queen Mary I. She is buried in her beloved basílica. And by the way, she did live to see the completion of the church.
Sculpture in Basílica da Estrela
The church is decorated with beautiful sculptures and paintings. The light is one of the most interesting characteristic of the Basílica da Estrela: on the one hand you have the natural light that enters through the large windows at the top. On the other hand, behind the many pillars, all kinds of lighting installations are hidden which, as soon as they are lit, seem to form an extension of the daylight. This creates a very romantic and serene light show, even on a sunny day.
View from the roof
One of the most impressive features of the Basílica da Estrela is that you can go to the roof. A narrow spiral staircase takes you to what they call the “terrace”. That is really too modest, because you can walk on the whole roof of the church! Many hundreds of square meters with a beautiful view on all sides. You can even walk around the dome of the cathedral. And if you are lucky you can go inside to view the insides of the church from above.
From the roof you get a good idea about the construction of the church. In addition, the terrace also offers a beautiful view of the city, the Tagus river and the adjacent park. I definitely recommend you to go to this
Jardim da Estrela after (or before) your visit to the basilica. You can find this park just across the road.
How to get to Basílica da Estrela
Adresse: Praça da Estrela, Estrela
Openings hours: every day from 07:30 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. between 1:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Entrance is free. Want to visit the terrace/roof? That’ll cost you € 3, and it’s definitely worth it!
Tram: Tram 25 or tram 28
Metro: The nearest metro station is Rato, from here Basílica da Estrela is about 20 minutes walk.
Walk: From the Baixa it is about 30 minutes walk.