About Lisbon Cathedral
Lisbon Cathedral (Se de Lisboa) is one of the city’s oldest structures. Built in the mid-12th century, Lisbon Cathedral was constructed after Christian crusaders led by King Afonso Henriques had retaken the city from the Moors.
Originally built in a Romanesque style, Lisbon Cathedral has since undergone a series of reconstructions and renovations, not least due to damage caused by earthquakes. As a result, today, this imposing fortress-like structure also has elements of other styles, particularly Baroque.
The cathedral’s 14th century cloisters contain some interesting pieces as well as being home to inscriptions and tombs.
History of Lisbon Cathedral
Lisbon has been the seat of a bishopric since the 4th century. The city was conquered and stayed under Arab control from the 8th to the 12th century, until the city was reconquered by an army of Portuguese soldiers and North European soldiers taking part in the European crusade in 1147.
A new English crusader was placed as bishop, and a new cathedral was built on the site of the main mosque of Lisbon. The first structure was built in the first decades of the late 13th century, and was in a Late Romanesque style. At the end of the same century, King Denis of Portugal built a Gothic cloister, and the main chapel was later converted into a similarly Gothic style by Alfonso IV of Portugal.
Earthquakes have often caused trouble for Lisbon and its cathedral. There were an increasing number between the 14th and 16th centuries, with the worst in 1755 destroying the main chapel and royal pantheon, as well as many cloisters and chapels in a resultant quake and fire.
The cathedral was partially rebuilt, and appears as it does today due to extensive renovations at the beginning of the 20th century.
Recently, archaeological excavations in the cathedral cloisters show signs of Arab, Roman, and Medieval architecture. A Roman road with shops on either side and a Moorish building, which was the mosque the cathedral was originally built on top of, are particularly exciting finds.
Lisbon Cathedral Today
Today, visitors can enjoy the stunning fortress-like appearance that the cathedral commands. A combination of Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque, and neoclassical architectural and artistic styles characterise the cathedral.
On the second floor is a treasury, which is made up of four halls with suits, jewels, and relics from various periods.
Getting to Lisbon Cathedral
The cathedral is reachable in around 7 minutes from the centre of Lisbon by car via R. dos Fanqueiros, though parking at the other end might be difficult. There’s also a regular and reliable public transport service, with trams and buses departing every 20 minutes from the city centre. By foot, it takes around 25 minutes, via R. da Madalena.