On the western edge of Lisbon is one of the city’s two larger cemeteries, Cemitério dos Prazeres.
After a cholera outbreak in Lisbon in 1833 two cemeteries were established on either side of the city centre (back then it was far outside the centre). To the north the Cemitério de Alto de São João, still the largest cemetery in the city, was established. On the west side came Cemitério dos Prazeres.
Mini city of the dead
When you walk through the large entrance gates and enter the central square, you don’t really notice how big this 20 hectare cemetery is. The paths along the graves are symmetrical, making Cemitério dos Prazeres look like a miniature city for the dead.
When you have seen the central part, don’t forget to go down the stairs on the south side of the cemetery. Here you’ll find the most special graves.
Throughout the cemetery there are family houses with shelves on the wall on which the coffins are laid to rest. These houses often have doors and curtains hanging in front of the windows. Some of the houses allow you to look inside, which is quite exciting because not all coffins are in the best shape.
There are also single tombs but the most impressive ones are the large buildings: some of them look more like a proper church or a chapel than a tomb.
Largest family tomb in Europe
We also spotted a temple on Cemitério dos Prazeres. This is the largest family tomb in Europe. The grave is of the Pedro de Sousa Holstein (1781- 1850) family, one of the most important Portuguese statesmen. The family tomb contains the remains of no less than two hundred family members. The temple is based on the temple of Solomon and the Egyptian pyramids.
As a nice added bonus, cemitério dos Prazeres offers beautiful views of Ponte 25 Abril and the river Tagus.
Not the biggest, but the most famous
Cemitério dos Prazeres, which literally means cemetery of fun, is by far the most famous cemetery in Lisbon.
Famous Portuguese personalities are buried here, mainly actors, talk shows hosts, singers, writers and painters. At the graves of these famous personalities are signs indicating that a famous person is laid to rest here.
You’ll find the graves of Fado singer Amália Rodrigues and until 1985 the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa was buried here. In that year his remains were transferred to the monastery Mosteiro dos Jerónimos.
The cemetery is still a popular place as a last resting place. Family houses are still being sold and when a grave hasn’t been maintained for 30 years, apparently it will be cleared. A dark aspect of that is that some graves and or family houses have a sign that says Abandonado (abandoned) on it…
Beautiful and impressive location
Visiting a cemetery surely isn’t the first thing you think about during your city trip. But the visit to this cemetery made a big impression on us.
It turned out we’d chosen an ideal moment: dark grey clouds hung over the city and by the time we arrived at the cemetery, the rain was pouring down from the sky.
How to get to Cemitério dos Prazeres
Cemitério dos Prazeres is the terminus of tram 28.
Address: Cemitério dos Prazeres, Parado das Prazeres, Campo do Ourique
Opening Hours: every day in October – April: 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. | every day in May – September 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Admission (return ticket) is free.