Sé Catedral (Cathedral of Lisbon)

Lisbon, Portugal

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 was an Arab settlement. The construction of the cathedral started around 1150, three years after the city was conquered from the Moors during the Second Crusade. Shortly after the victory the English knight Gilbert of Hastings was named bishop of the city of Lisbon.

One good reason to visit the Cathedral is to visit its charming cloisters located in the back.There are several tombs in the cathedral, the most notable of which is the beautifully sculpted tomb of Lopo Fernandes Pacheco and his wife. He died in 1349 and was a knight of King D. Afonso IV.

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Address

Largo da Sé, Lisbon, Portugal
See all sites in Lisbon

Details

Founded: 12th century
Category: Religious sites in Portugal

Rating

4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Aluhe Xavier (2 years ago)
One of the oldest, and the most important church of Lisbon. It is in alfama. A beautiful tainted rose window...
Murat Uder (2 years ago)
Lisbon Cathedral is worth seeing and going up all those hills to reach. You can go there by taking the tram 28. No fee to enter the main section of the cathedral but there is a ticket needed to go further.
Anna Szumańska (2 years ago)
A cathedral from the 12th century, which was not demolished during the great earthquake of the 18th century. A monumental, raw appearance of the interior without unnecessary decorations. It is worth noting that it is located on the route of the famous yellow tram 28.
Subrata Chakrabarti (2 years ago)
An important historical building in Lisbon. We were staying in Prata Hotel, so I came here a few times. The first time was in the morning. The sun was low and bright and the Cathedral looked impressive as I was coming up the street which climbs up to the Cathedral. The interior is simple but interesting. There are paintings on the wall. Apparently, the Cathedral suffered damages from more than one earthquake. The structure has been rebuilt several times. Outside, people seat on the steps, yellow trams go up and down the front street. Ambience is friendly. There was a coffee kiosk half way down the street, selling coffee and snacks. Coffee was good.
João Manoel Lenz (2 years ago)
Not as beautiful or impressive as other cathedrals in Europe, but it's a place full of history and with some Moorish heritage. Entrance is free but there is also a small paid tour inside. It's worth stopping by only with you have more than one day in Lisbon.
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Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba

The Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba, also known as the Great Mosque of Córdoba and the Mezquita is regarded as one of the most accomplished monuments of Moorish architecture.

According to a traditional account, a small Visigoth church, the Catholic Basilica of Saint Vincent of Lérins, originally stood on the site. In 784 Abd al-Rahman I ordered construction of the Great Mosque, which was considerably expanded by later Muslim rulers. The mosque underwent numerous subsequent changes: Abd al-Rahman II ordered a new minaret, while in 961 Al-Hakam II enlarged the building and enriched the Mihrab. The last of such reforms was carried out by Almanzor in 987. It was connected to the Caliph"s palace by a raised walkway, mosques within the palaces being the tradition for previous Islamic rulers – as well as Christian Kings who built their palaces adjacent to churches. The Mezquita reached its current dimensions in 987 with the completion of the outer naves and courtyard.

In 1236, Córdoba was conquered by King Ferdinand III of Castile, and the centre of the mosque was converted into a Catholic cathedral. Alfonso X oversaw the construction of the Villaviciosa Chapel and the Royal Chapel within the mosque. The kings who followed added further Christian features, such as King Henry II rebuilding the chapel in the 14th century. The minaret of the mosque was also converted to the bell tower of the cathedral. It was adorned with Santiago de Compostela"s captured cathedral bells. Following a windstorm in 1589, the former minaret was further reinforced by encasing it within a new structure.

The most significant alteration was the building of a Renaissance cathedral nave in the middle of the expansive structure. The insertion was constructed by permission of Charles V, king of Castile and Aragon. Artisans and architects continued to add to the existing structure until the late 18th century.

Architecture

The building"s floor plan is seen to be parallel to some of the earliest mosques built from the very beginning of Islam. It had a rectangular prayer hall with aisles arranged perpendicular to the qibla, the direction towards which Muslims pray. The prayer hall was large and flat, with timber ceilings held up by arches of horseshoe-like appearance.

In planning the mosque, the architects incorporated a number of Roman columns with choice capitals. Some of the columns were already in the Gothic structure; others were sent from various regions of Iberia as presents from the governors of provinces. Ivory, jasper, porphyry, gold, silver, copper, and brass were used in the decorations. Marvellous mosaics and azulejos were designed. Later, the immense temple embodied all the styles of Morisco architecture into one composition.

The building is most notable for its arcaded hypostyle hall, with 856 columns of jasper, onyx, marble, granite and porphyry. These were made from pieces of the Roman temple that had occupied the site previously, as well as other Roman buildings, such as the Mérida amphitheatre. The double arches were an innovation, permitting higher ceilings than would otherwise be possible with relatively low columns. The double arches consist of a lower horseshoe arch and an upper semi-circular arch.