One of our favourite sights in Lisbon is Convento do Carmo, the imposing ruin in the middle of the Chiado district. In June 2018, when we were discovering some great places in the Chiado district, we noticed there was an event in the Convento that evening.
We didn’t have to think long to buy a ticket, without really knowing what the event was. Because just the thought of being in Convento do Carmo at night made us very happy. And after seeing Lisbon Under Stars we were truly enchanted.
Lisbon Under Stars is a compelling and multi-disciplinary spectacle that takes you into the culture and heritage of Lisbon and indirectly into the history of Portugal. It’s truly magical to enter Convento do Carmo at dusk and take a seat under the absent roof and wait for the start of the show, together with 100 other visitors.
The walls of Convento do Carmo are transformed into a kind of 3D screen and a voice (in the role of the ruin) tells the history of Lisbon in a 360 degree show with the starry sky over your head.
There are a handful of chairs in the ruin, but in the middle part (the ship) you can just sit on the floor or in the grass. We advise you to sit in the middle of the ship for the best view of everything that happens around you.
600 years of history in 60 minutes
The prologue starts with the introduction of the heroine of the story: she is the spirit of the church, this story details her life under the stars.
From the battle of Aljubarrota on 14 August 1385 (the battle between Castile and Portugal, guaranteeing Portugal’s independence) to the construction of the Convento do Carmo in 1389.
You will be taken on the maritime voyage on 8 July 1497 where Vasco da Gama departs from Lisbon to discover the sea route to India.
The great earthquake of 1 November 1755. The firestorm and the tsunami and the spirit of Convento do Carmo which was shaken to its foundations by the earthquake. The reconstruction of the Carmo church in 1756. The monks in the Order of Carmo decide to join forces for the reconstruction of the monastery.
The extinction of the religious order in 1835 by Joaquim António de Aguiar who wanted to abolish all religious orders in Portugal, the monks are forced to leave Carmo when the church begins to crumble.
The foundation of the Archaeological Museum of Carmo in 1864. The spirit of Carmo is sad and lonely that it has no use, until Joaquim Possidonio Narciso da Silva uses this space to create the Archaeological Museum of Carmo, with treasures from all over the world.
July 23, 1920, the birth of Amalia Rodrigues. Her voice echoes through the church and makes many visitors sentimental. The highlight was the fall of the dictatorship on 25 April 1974. 40 years of dictatorship has been overthrown. What is special is that there are people in the church who have experienced this. At the first tones of Grândola, Vila Morena, it is inevitable that chills run down your spine and within a short time most locals sing along the victory song.
This unique journey you make is an intense experience of projections, virtual dancers and visual effects that bring together Lisbon’s cultural heritage. Every moment of the journey is highlighted with Portuguese greats (almost all born in Lisbon) such as Amália Rodrigues, Fernando Lopes Graça, Luís Freitas Branco, Madredeus, Salvador Sobral and Zeca Afonso. Fado singer Mariza sings as bright as the stars in the sky.
Audiovisual and sensory experience
After the performance we couldn’t have a normal conversation for at least 10 minutes and got no further than: ‘This was really cool’, ‘Wow, what a show’. We were overwhelmed by all the beauty we had seen.
The show is both in Portuguese and English, which makes it even more accessible to visit Lisbon Under Stars as a tourist.
In 2019 there will be new installments of Lisbon Under Stars, from 2 May to 17 June. There are two shows per evening, at 9:30 – 10:45 p.m.
Tickets cost €15 (£13) for adults. Children under the age of 5 have free admission. Children from 6 to 11 years, 65+, students, disabled and locals pay €12.50 (£11).
Tickets can be bought on the website of the organisation.