Many times I walked past Igreja de São Roque, never really noticing this church. Why is that?! I don’t get it either.
It’s a massive building on the corner of a very narrow road (R. São Pedro de Alcântara) that leads to the Ascensor Gloria and Instituto Dos Vinhos Do Douro E Do Porto. And it was especially on our way to a visit to the latter that we walked past this church several times.
The church caught my attention when it was written about in a local newspaper, filled with information about the Bairro Alto and the Baixa. And after seeing the beautiful photos, a visit to this church was at the top of my list.
One of Lisbon’s most beautiful monuments
Igreja de São Roque is one of the most beautiful monuments of Lisbon, because of its historical significance and artistic richness. The church and the eponymous museum attached to the church are rich in national and international religious art.
Oldest Jesuit church
The church is the oldest Jesuit church in Portugal and one of the oldest in the world. It was built at the end of the 16th century and the construction took a little more than a hundred years. Igreja de São Roque is, just like São Vicente de Fora in Alfama, designed by Filippo Terzi.
It is not so strange that I have been walking past this church for years: the outside looks rather simple and ordinary, maybe even a bit plain or dull. Nothing that indicates that behind the large wooden church doors is an unprecedented beautiful interior with spectacular Portuguese Baroque elements.
The interior is made of the most precious materials and there are decorations everywhere in the church. Almost every column is decorated with gigantic baroque ornaments and vines of gold leaf.
Hard to know where to look
In addition to all the splendour in the church, the ceiling is also an enormous work of art. And don’t forget to look at the floor, in many places the floor is a mosaic floor with many inlaid marble.
Most expensive chapel of the world
There are several chapels in the church, but the exuberant Capela de São João Baptista takes the crown. This is the world’s most expensive chapel. It was built between 1742 and 1747 in Rome and was transported to Lisbon with three ships. The chapel is made of the most expensive materials.
Curious about Capela de São João Baptista? It is the fourth chapel on the left side at the main altar.
If you’re discovering the Bairro Alto and the Chiado districts, don’t walk past this church. There is so much beauty to see. And the church is so different from the other churches that you see in Lisbon. You certainly won’t regret your visit here.
The church is free to visit, for the museum you pay a small entrance fee (unless you come here on Sunday morning before 11 am)
Where to find Igreja de São Roque
Address: Largo Trindade Coelho, Bairro Alto
Opening hours: Mon 14 -18 p.m., Tue-Sun 9 a.m. -6 p.m. | Thurs- 9 p.m.