Igreja de São Roque

Lisbon, Portugal

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 Lisboa (the Charity House of Lisbon) to replace their church and headquarters which had been destroyed. It remains a part of the Santa Casa today, one of its many heritage buildings.

The Igreja de São Roque was one of the few buildings in Lisbon to survive the earthquake relatively unscathed. When built in the 16th century it was the first Jesuit church designed in the “auditorium-church” style specifically for preaching. It contains a number of chapels, most in the Baroque style of the early 17th century. The most notable chapel is the 18th-century Chapel of St. John the Baptist, a project by Nicola Salvi and Luigi Vanvitelli constructed in Rome of many precious stones and disassembled, shipped and reconstructed in São Roque; at the time it was reportedly the most expensive chapel in Europe.

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Details

Founded: 1506
Category: Religious sites in Portugal

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

St Veo (2 months ago)
One of the nicest cathedrals I have ever been and I already so a lot. My absolute favorite. 5*
Mark McConachie (3 months ago)
The exterior gives away nothing of the riches that lie within. The interior is stunning, an absolute masterpiece on alter craftsmanship. And there are so many of them. My camera would not do them justice, you must visit to see. Highly recommended.
Mike Benson (4 months ago)
Arguably the best church in Lisbon. Not too overrun by tourists. Go by taxi as it's on a steep hill. See the church and then walk downhill to find a nice restaurant.
Aaron Wileman (4 months ago)
Beautiful church. Well worth a visit inside and taking your time to explore each of the altars. Is was decorated at Xmas with colourful paper birds which gave an even more splendid feel to the ambiance of it inside. Right in the middle of tourist areas this has not lost its charge and is still a great place for quiet and reflection
Thomas Ozbun (6 months ago)
One of the best churches in town (if not THE best). A baroque gem, with beautiful chapels all around. The most beautiful, dedicated to St John the Baptist, has some splendid marbles and was designed by two really famous italian architects to be built in Rome and was then brought by boat and rebuilt inside the church. Also noteworthy the beautiful Mannerist ceiling (a rarity in Portugal). It was interesting to learn that it was one of the first Jesuit churches in Portugal.
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Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.