Cemetery of Alto de São João – largest and most important cemetery

cemiterio do alto de sao joao beelden 1

Although it may not be at the top of your list when planning your city trip to Lisbon, it’s definitely worth visitingCemitério do Alto de São João

Located on the east side of the city, this cemetery is not only the largest but also one of the most prominent cemeteries in Portugal. Countless well-known personalities from the country’s history have found their final resting place here.

Lisbon’s historical cholera cemetery

In 1833, a cholera epidemic broke out in Lisbon, leading Queen Dona Maria II to order the construction of a cemetery far outside the city. This site was originally a rural area with mainly large farms (quintas). For centuries, it served as Lisbon’s first and only cemetery. To honor Portuguese soldiers, the first republic decided to build a crypt called the Crypt of the Fighters of the Great War on this historic site. Upon entering the gates of the cemetery, you get the feeling of walking through a real city. The streets and houses are numbered, and the houses are built in a Neo-Manueline style, giving the cemetery an appropriate appearance. At the beginning of each street, you often find the graves of important individuals, often marked by the most magnificent houses. Additionally, there are numerous mausoleums and houses adorned with symbols of religious and intellectual imagery.

Between grave art and cremation

Today, near the entrance, there is a crematorium, and Portuguese people are no longer surprised or defensive when someone chooses to be cremated. A fun fact is that the country’s first crematorium oven was built in 1925 at this cemetery. It wasn’t used for very long; for political reasons, the oven was deactivated. It wasn’t until 1985 that the oven could be used again.

On the other side of Lisbon, on the west side of the city, you’ll find Cemitério dos Prazeres. That cemetery serves the western side of the city, while the Cemetery of Alto de São João mainly serves as the final resting place for residents of the eastern part.

Where to find Cemetery of Alto de São João

Address: Parada Alto de São João 3, Penha França
Opening hours: every day 09:00 – 17:00

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