Lisbon, the capital city of Portugal, is a place steeped in rich culture and history. The coastal city which is filled with many hills has so many historic landmarks that you can visit. Some of these include the Sao Jorge Castle where you will be able to get a fantastic view of the vibrant and colourful buildings that make up the city of Lisbon as well as the National Azulejo Museum which houses a host of decorative ceramic tiles spanning over 5 centuries. However, perhaps some of the most beautiful places to visit in Lisbon are some of its churches.
Christianity in Portugal
The most prominent religion in Portugal is Roman Catholic and makes up 81% of all practiced religions in the country with 3.3% going to other forms of Christianity. This makes Catholicism the largest religion practiced by the Portuguese people. This means, of course, that the entire country is filled with churches to allow locals to practice their faith and Lisbon is no different. If you are religious, you will be able to attend a mass at some of the churches listed however if you aren’t religious or don’t follow the catholic faith, you should definitely still visit the amazing buildings out with services.
So, what are the best church buildings to visit in Portugal?
First, there is the Se Cathedral or the Lisbon Cathedral – often just called Se. The Se Cathedral is the oldest church in the city having been in 1147. This cathedral is home to the seat of the Patriarchate of Lisbon which is a Metropolitan Archdiocese of the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church. In addition to this, the church has survived many earthquakes and also went through a few restorations and modifications since it was first built. The Cathedral can be found in Largo da Se.
Basilica da Estrela
Next, situated in Praca de Estrela is the Basilica da Estrela which is also known as the Royal Basilica and the Convent of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. This church is a minor basilica as well as an ancient, carmalite convent. The church is made up of both Baroque and Neoclassical architecture styles and was built in 1779.
Church of Santa Engracia – National Pantheon
In addition, to these churches, you may be interested in visiting the Church of Santa Engracia which is now more commonly known as the National Pantheon. The church was built in the 17th century before its conversion began in the 20th century and it became the National Pantheon. Nowadays, the building’s main purpose is that it is used as a burial site for important figures in Portugal. Some of these figures include Amalia Rodrigues and Almeida Garrett. The church also has cenotaphs for those already buried elsewhere such as Vasco da Gama. You can find the National Pantheon in Campo de Santa Clara
Igreja de Sao Roque
Also, there is the Igreja de Sao Roque which can be found in Largo Trindade Coelho. This church was the earliest known Jesuit church in Portugal and one of the first in the world. The Jesuits are followers of the Society of Jesus, a religious group which is now based in Rome. The church was used as a base for the Jesuits for over 200 years until the group were exiled from the country. The church makes use of both Baroque and Mannerism architecture styles.
Igreja de Santo Antonio de Lisboa
Another church you may be interested in visiting is the Igreja de Santo Antonio de Lisboa which is situated in Largo de Santo Antonio da Se. This church is dedicated to Saint Anthony of Lisbon and was built in 1767. The church is built in the same place where Saint Anthony was born in 1195 and it is also classified as being a national monument in the city. The architectural design of this particular church is Baroque.
Church of Nossa Senhora da Conceicao
Next, there is the Church of Nossa Senhora da Conceicao or the Church of Our Lady of the Conception. This church can be found at Rua da Alfandega and is part of the civil parish of Madalena. Making use of both Gothic and Manueline architecture style, this church was built in 1834. This church has an ornate facade at its front as well as a very expensive-looking inside space.
Church Santa Catarina
Furthermore, there is the Church Santa Catarina which is made of a Baroque architecture style and can be found in Calcada do Combro. The church is famous for combining ornate designs with more simplistic ideas. The Church Santa Catarina became the civil parish of Santa Catarina in 1834.
Igreja Santa Maria de Belem – Jeronimos Monastery
Also, you may be interested in visiting the Igreja Santa Maria de Belem which is part of the Jeronismos Monastery, found in Praca do Imperio. The monastery used to house the Order of Saint Jerome and sits near the Tagus River. The side entrance of the church was designed by Juan de Castilho and is thought to be some of his greatest work.
Igreja de Sao Domingos
Lastly, there is the Igreja de Sao Domingos or the Church of Saint Dominic. The church was built in 1748 and is classified as a national monument. Before the modern Portuguese republic was created in 1910, the church was mainly used to host Portuguese royal weddings. You can find the church in Largo Sao Domingos.
So, to conclude, there are many churches all across Lisbon that you are able to visit. Many of these churches date back to many centuries ago and are remnants of the history of Portugal. All of the churches in Lisbon are amazing places to visit and are a must to add on to your Lisbon itinerary! Read my 4 day Lisbon itinerary here.