In the middle of the city of Lisbon, between Chiado and Bairro Alto, you can find Convento do Carmo, the Carmo monastery. This impressive ruin mainly shows the traces of the great earthquake of 1755. But there is a lot more more than just that.
At first you might think that the Convento do Carmo is there as a reminder of the 1755 earthquake, but once inside you will see that there is a lot of history in the museum about a wide range of Portuguese history, starting at the early Roman times up until the 18th century. In the five rooms at the back you’ll find a sarcophagus from Egypt and Portuguese azulejos of more than 200 years old.
But to be honest, the main reason to visit the monastery is the atmosphere in the former church. For € 4 (or € 3.20 with your Lisboa Card) you can step straight into this monument from the bustling city outside. Despite the fact that there has been no roof since the earthquake, you hear almost nothing of the city sounds.
TBetween the large pillars that used to carry the roof of the church, two green strips of artificial grass have been laid, which beautifully colour the white pillars and (usually) the clear blue sky. You will find that you can not stop taking photos: behind each pillar there will be a new perspective.
Luis’s tips (72)
“I like to come here to enjoy the silence, right in the middle of the city. The ruin itself is impressive, at least as important are the relics found in the museum: from an Egyptian sarcophagus to Azulejos from the 18th century! “
History of Convento do Carmo
The construction of the monastery and the associated church began at the end of the fourteenth century and lasted for over thirty years. The first inhabitants were monks from the Carmelite Order, which also included the founder of the monastery, Nuno Alvares Pereira. The style of the church is typically Gothic, with large arches and a large rose window.
In the morning of November 1, 1755, the monastery was largely destroyed by the great earthquake. The church was never completely rebuilt, making the ruins one of the most striking remains of that great disaster in Lisbon.
A remarkable historical fact is that during the Carnation Revolution of 1974 the monastery was the last stronghold of former President Caetano of Portugal, before the peaceful coup was finally completed. An indirect consequence of this is that the headquarters of the Guarda Nacional Republicana, the Portuguese Marechaussee, is housed in the northern part of the monastery.
Where do you find Convento do Carmo
Adress: Largo do Carmo, Chiado
Opening hours: every day
October – May: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
June – September: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Lift: Take the Santa Justa lift from Rua Áurea in Baixa. Once up you take the walkway that runs over Rua do Carmo and you reach the square Largo Do Carmo.
Car: Park your car in the parking garage under Praça Luís de Camões. From there it is a 5 minutes walk (uphill, though)