Santa Engrácia Church

Lisbon, Portugal

The Church of Santa Engrácia is a 17th-century monument which was converted into the National Pantheon (in which important Portuguese personalities are buried) in the 20th century.

The current building of the Church of Santa Engrácia substituted previous churches dedicated to a martyr of the city of Braga, Saint Engrácia. The first church dedicated to the Saint was sponsored by Infanta Maria of Portugal, Duchess of Viseu, daughter of King Manuel I, around 1568. In 1681, construction of the current church began after previous structures collapsed. The design was the work of João Antunes, royal architect and one of the most important baroque architects of Portugal.

Construction proceeded from 1682 through 1712, when the architect died. King John V lost interest in the project, concentrating his resources in the gigantic Convent of Mafra. The church was not completed until the 20th century, so that Obras de Santa Engrácia has become a Portuguese synonym for an endless construction project. A dome was added, and the church was reinaugurated in 1966.

João Antunes prepared an ingenious design for Santa Engrácia, never before attempted in Portugal. The church has a centralised floorplan, with a Greek cross shape. On each corner there is a square tower, and the façades are ondulated like in the baroque designs of Borromini. The main façade has an entrance hall and three niches with statues. The entrance to the church is done through a beautiful baroque portal with the coat-of-arms of Portugal held by two angels. The Church has a high central dome which was completed only in the 20th century.

The harmonious interior of the church is dominated by the curved spaces of the central crossing and naves. The floor and walls are decorated with baroque, polychromed patterns of marble. The magnificent 18th-century baroque organ was brought from Lisbon Cathedral.

In 1916, during the First Portuguese Republic, the Church of Santa Engrácia was converted into a National Pantheon. It was completed only in 1966, during the government of the Dictator António de Oliveira Salazar.

The personalities buried here include the Presidents of the Republic Manuel de Arriaga, Teófilo Braga, Sidónio Pais and Óscar Carmona, Presidential candidate Humberto Delgado, writers João de Deus, Almeida Garrett, Guerra Junqueiro, Aquilino Ribeiro and Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen, fado singer Amália Rodrigues, and footballer Eusébio. There are cenotaphs to Luís de Camões, Pedro Álvares Cabral, Afonso de Albuquerque, Nuno Álvares Pereira, Vasco da Gama and Henry the Navigator.

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Founded: 1681-1712
Category: Religious sites in Portugal

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Steph Gingell (3 months ago)
Cannot comment about the interior because we were not allowed to go in despite it being open. A bit of a disappointment if you ask me, especially after 30 mins walk up and down the hill! So we sat nearby instead and appreciated the exterior instead.
S Vegi (3 months ago)
Really excellent views from the top. I would say that this place would be more interesting to the Portuguese tourist maybe. Vasco da Gama is entombed there. The Monastery of São Vicente de Fora is right up the hill and to me, is much more interesting and with better views.
Carolina C. (4 months ago)
Highly recommended! Beautiful place to see, with great views of the city. It was definitely worth the visit!
Frederico Figueiredo (4 months ago)
Excellent place to visit when in Lisbon, cheap and you get to learn about the life of some of the most important historical portuguese figures!
Gabriel Goidea (2 years ago)
Not for my enjoyment but it is a beautiful construction!
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