his place is definitely not to be missed on your tour through Alfama: the church of Santa Engrácia, better known as the Panteão Nacional. Legend has it that the place where the Pantheon stands is cursed. Apparently, back in the day when it was still a church, an innocent man was condemned for robbery here.
This condemnation led to a curse, as a result of which the church was demolished around 1630. They started on the construction of a new church. But, about 50 years later, the roof collapsed due to thunderstorms. At the beginning of the 18th century, the construction of a new church was started, but due to a lack of money, the construction was halted for a long time.
When the construction was not finished during the proclamation of the first republic in 1916, the government decided that it would become a pantheon, because it had no roof yet.
The pantheon is open to the public and fun to visit. Are you looking for Portuguese Baroque, then you should definitely go here!
When you walk up the stairs to the main entrance you see four large Tuscan columns. The building has an octagonal shape with a ground plan of a Greek cross. Inside, the interior is very colourful and richly decorated with light marble.
In 1966, the construction of the pantheon was finally completed with a dome that can be seen rising above the skyline at almost every miradouro. In addition to the galleries, the pantheon also has a roof terrace with a beautiful view. The patterns on the floor are clearly visible from the galleries.
Nowadays, important figures from Portuguese history are buried here, such as former presidents, writers and artists. There are also monument graves of old Portuguese naval heroes.
Escape the crowds in Alfama
What I really liked about the Panteão Nacional is that you can escape the hustle and bustle of Alfama. In the neighborhood of Castelo de São Jorge it is sometimes (too) crowded with tourists, in and around the pantheon there are far fewer tourists.
The pantheon is a good stop if you are wandering through Alfama, on your way to Feira da Ladra, the “thieves market”, around the corner.
How to get to Panteão Nacional
Address: Campo de Santa Clara
Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday from 10am to 5pm. Closed on Mondays and public holidays
Walk: The pantheon is 10 minutes walk from Santa Apolónia train station