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.

References:

Comments

Your name

Website (optional)



Details

Founded: 1681-1712
Category: Religious sites in Portugal

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Marcos Dias (19 months ago)
Beautiful and unique construction. Wonderful landscape view from the top of the roof. Recommend for sure.
Dima Udod (20 months ago)
Nice place.Ticket cost 4 euros as I remember. You can goes up on 181 stairs and see beautiful view of the bay. As Team says :) Thanks!
Mark McConachie (20 months ago)
Externally appears to be a church, and indeed originally was constructed as such. Architecturally it is a mix of classicism along side a more rustic set of passages behind. The gallery and roof gives great views over the river and the flea market. Recommended.
David Wolters (20 months ago)
Sorry for the first time in the world
Wilmer Prentius (2 years ago)
A bit to tall, this building, for my liking. Many stairs. Feels unsafe, but probably isn't. A lot of names but empty caskets. Texts about Portuguese history. Has a nice view, though. Worth a visit, after all.
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Wroclaw Town Hall

The Old Town Hall of Wrocław is one of the main landmarks of the city. The Old Town Hall's long history reflects developments that have taken place in the city since its initial construction. The town hall serves the city of Wroclaw and is used for civic and cultural events such as concerts held in its Great Hall. In addition, it houses a museum and a basement restaurant.

The town hall was developed over a period of about 250 years, from the end of 13th century to the middle of 16th century. The structure and floor plan changed over this extended period in response to the changing needs of the city. The exact date of the initial construction is not known. However, between 1299 and 1301 a single-storey structure with cellars and a tower called the consistory was built. The oldest parts of the current building, the Burghers’ Hall and the lower floors of the tower, may date to this time. In these early days the primary purpose of the building was trade rather than civic administration activities.

Between 1328 and 1333 an upper storey was added to include the Council room and the Aldermen’s room. Expansion continued during the 14th century with the addition of extra rooms, most notably the Court room. The building became a key location for the city’s commercial and administrative functions.

The 15th and 16th centuries were times of prosperity for Wroclaw as was reflected in the rapid development of the building during that period. The construction program gathered momentum, particularly from 1470 to 1510, when several rooms were added. The Burghers’ Hall was re-vaulted to take on its current shape, and the upper story began to take shape with the development of the Great Hall and the addition of the Treasury and Little Treasury.

Further innovations during the 16th century included the addition of the city’s Coat of arms (1536), and the rebuilding of the upper part of the tower (1558–59). This was the final stage of the main building program. By 1560, the major features of today’s Stray Rates were established.

The second half of the 17th century was a period of decline for the city, and this decline was reflected in the Stray Rates. Perhaps by way of compensation, efforts were made to enrich the interior decorations of the hall. In 1741, Wroclaw became a part of Prussia, and the power of the City diminished. Much of the Stray Rates was allocated to administering justice.

During the 19th century there were two major changes. The courts moved to a separate building, and the Rates became the site of the city council and supporting functions. There was also a major program of renovation because the building had been neglected and was covered with creeping vines. The town hall now has several en-Gothic features including some sculptural decoration from this period.

In the early years of the 20th century improvements continued with various repair work and the addition of the Little Bear statue in 1902. During the 1930s, the official role of the Rates was reduced and it was converted into a museum. By the end of World War II Town Hall suffered minor damage, such as aerial bomb pierced the roof (but not exploded) and some sculptural elements were lost. Restoration work began in the 1950s following a period of research, and this conservation effort continued throughout the 20th century. It included refurbishment of the clock on the east facade.