Christian churches in Portugal

Jerónimos Monastery

The Jerónimos Monastery or Hieronymites Monastery is one of the most prominent examples of the Portuguese Late Gothic Manueline style of architecture in Lisbon. It was classified a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the nearby Tower of Belém, in 1983. The Jeronimos Monastery is the most impressive symbol of Portugal's power and wealth during the Age of Discovery. King Manuel I built it in 1502 on the site of a herm ...
Founded: 1502 | Location: Lisbon, Portugal

Carmo Convent Ruins

The Convent of Our Lady of Mount Carmel medieval convent was ruined during the sequence of the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. The destroyed Gothic Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on the southern facade of the convent is the main trace of the great earthquake still visible in the old city. The convent was founded in 1389 by the Constable D. Nuno Álvares Pereira (supreme military commander of the King), from the small C ...
Founded: 1389 | Location: Lisbon, Portugal

Sé Catedral (Cathedral of Lisbon)

Lisbon's cathedral has a stark interior and differs from other European cathedrals in looking more like a castle.It was built over an old mosque and mixes the Romanesque and Gothic styles. While in other cities the cathedral is the grandest religious monument, in Lisbon that honor actually goes to the Hieronymus Monastery or even Basilica da Estrela. The site where it stands was the principal mosque of Lisbon when it wa ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Lisbon, Portugal

Igreja de Santo António (Saint Anthony Church)

This is the Church of Santo Antonio, or Saint Anthony of Padua (Italy). Despite his name, the saint was born in Lisbon 1195 in what is now the crypt of this church. The site of the family house where Anthony was born was turned into a small chapel in the 15th century. This early building, from which nothing remains, was rebuilt in the early 16th century, during the reign of King Manuel I. After long missionary pursuits, ...
Founded: 1730 | Location: Lisbon, Portugal

Igreja da Madalena (Magdalena Church)

The original church was erected in 1150 over a roman temple build in honor of the goddess Cybele, the mother-God. Three times destroyed, three times has been rebuilt. In 1363, a fire completely destroyed the church. In 1600 it was partially destroyed in a cyclone before succumbing to the earthquake in 1755. Queen Maria I of Portugal, in 1783 ordered to rebuild the church again. The Vestibule of this ch ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Lisbon, Portugal

Igreja de São Roque

The Igreja de São Roque (Church of Saint Roch) in Lisbon was the earliest Jesuit church in the Portuguese world, and one of the first Jesuit churches anywhere. It served as the Society’s home church in Portugal for over 200 years, before the Jesuits were expelled from that country. After the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, the church and its ancillary residence were given to the Santa Casa da Misericórdia de L ...
Founded: 1506 | Location: Lisbon, Portugal

Monastery of São Vicente de Fora

Monastery of São Vicente de Fora (Monastery of St. Vincent Outside the Walls) is a 17th-century church and monastery in the city of Lisbon. It is one of the most important monasteries and mannerist buildings in the country. The monastery also contains the royal pantheon of the Braganza monarchs of Portugal. The original Monastery of São Vicente de Fora was founded around 1147 by the first Portuguese King, Afonso Henriq ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Lisbon, Portugal

Convento da Graça (Graça Convent)

Graça Convent is one of the oldest convents in Lisbon. According the legend, in 1362 the statue of Our Lady of Grace appeared in the network of a fisherman. The convent part is nowadays used by the army and is not open for visits, but the church is still in use. Most of the original Graça Church collapsed in the earthquake of 1755, so what you see today is an 18th century baroque monument. Inside it is partly decorated ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Lisbon, Portugal

Estrela Basilica

The Estrela Basilica is a former carmelite convent built by order of Queen Maria I of Portugal, as a fulfilled promise for giving birth to a son (José, Prince of Brazil). The official name of the church is the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Construction started in 1779 and the basilica was finished in 1790, after the death of José caused by smallpox in 1788. The Estrela Basilica was the first church ...
Founded: 1779-1790 | Location: Lisbon, Portugal

Igreja de Santa Maria

The parish of Santa Maria de Sintra dates back to the time of Portugal’s foundation as a nation, when Dom Afonso Henriques, the first king of Portugal, conquered Sintra from the Moors. At that time, a small chapel was built here, later reconstructed in the 13th century by the prior Martim Dade. The great earthquake of 1755 caused serious damage to the church, but the original Gothic portico survived, displaying the ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Sintra, Portugal

Convent of the Capuchos

The Convent of the Frairs Minor Capuchin, popularly known as the Convent of the Capuchos, is a historical convent consisting of small quarters and public spaces located in the civil parish of São Pedro de Penaferrim. The convent was founded in 1560, consisting of eight monks that arrived from the Convent of Arrábida. Between 1578 and 1580, the Chapel of Santo António was constructed, along with the erection of a wall ...
Founded: 1560 | Location: Sintra, Portugal

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Hagios Demetrios

The Church of Saint Demetrius, or Hagios Demetrios, is the main sanctuary dedicated to Saint Demetrius, the patron saint of Thessaloniki. It is part of the site Palaeochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO since 1988.

The first church on the spot was constructed in the early 4th century AD, replacing a Roman bath. A century later, a prefect named Leontios replaced the small oratory with a larger, three-aisled basilica. Repeatedly gutted by fires, the church eventually was reconstructed as a five-aisled basilica in 629–634. This was the surviving form of the church much as it is today. The most important shrine in the city, it was probably larger than the local cathedral. The historic location of the latter is now unknown.

The church had an unusual shrine called the ciborium, a hexagonal, roofed structure at one side of the nave. It was made of or covered with silver. The structure had doors and inside was a couch or bed. Unusually, it did not hold any physical relics of the saint. The ciborium seems to have been a symbolic tomb. It was rebuilt at least once.

The basilica is famous for six extant mosaic panels, dated to the period between the latest reconstruction and the inauguration of the Byzantine Iconoclasm in 730. These mosaics depict St. Demetrius with officials responsible for the restoration of the church (called the founders, ktetors) and with children. An inscription below one of the images glorifies heaven for saving the people of Thessalonica from a pagan Slavic raid in 615.

Thessaloniki became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1430. About 60 years later, during the reign of Bayezid II, the church was converted into a mosque, known as the Kasımiye Camii after the local Ottoman mayor, Cezeri Kasım Pasha. The symbolic tomb however was kept open for Christian veneration. Other magnificent mosaics, recorded as covering the church interior, were lost either during the four centuries when it functioned as a mosque (1493–1912) or in the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917 that destroyed much of the city. It also destroyed the roof and upper walls of the church. Black-and-white photographs and good watercolour versions give an idea of the early Byzantine craftsmanship lost during the fire.

Following the Great Fire of 1917, it took decades to restore the church. Tombstones from the city"s Jewish cemetery - destroyed by the Greek and Nazi German authorities - were used as building materials in these restoration efforts in the 1940s. Archeological excavations conducted in the 1930s and 1940s revealed interesting artifacts that may be seen in a museum situated inside the church"s crypt. The excavations also uncovered the ruins of a Roman bath, where St. Demetrius was said to have been held prisoner and executed. A Roman well was also discovered. Scholars believe this is where soldiers dropped the body of St. Demetrius after his execution. After restoration, the church was reconsecrated in 1949.