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

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4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Rachel Ngn (4 months ago)
supper beautifull!! (note no flash photography) maybe we went on a Tuesday and it was raining + it wasn't tourist season so it wasn't too crowded.
Freya Askham (5 months ago)
Amazing! One of the few places in Lisbon that there was no queue. Included entry on Lisbon Card and amazing views out over the Tagus and the city. The view inside down to the floor from the gallery was a tad scary but beautiful. Totally recommend
Craig Childress Johnson (6 months ago)
This is a magnificent example of grand classical architecture. Visitors are granted free access to climb all the staircases up into the dome. The interiors views were magnificent. One is permitted to to go out on the roof where one has a fine view of a beautiful city. The admission price was trivial. Well worth a visit.
Eric Fullerton (6 months ago)
Great place to go. If you go up to the top you get a great view into the lower sections, but there is an amazing rooftop view of the city surrounding the National Pantheon. Amazing place to visit!
Andrea Fraser (6 months ago)
I arrived at this place by pure luck. I love walking around the cities I visit to discover things by myself. And while walking around beautiful Lisbon I bumped into this magnificent building. I went in and they asked me if I wanted to visit inside. The building reminded me of the Pantheon in Paris which I love so I decided to buy the ticket and come inside. The first thing that caught my eye was a photographic exhibition of people of determination ( or Special Needs people as they're called in Europe). I was touched by the images and the content.. After I walked around in the ground floor and saw some of the tombs of Presidents and famous Portuguese Writers and Explorers I decided to go up the stairs. I ended up in the most fantastic Miradour in the whole of Lisbonne. 360 degrees of sheer beauty. The whole of the city right under your eyes. I was so happy to be there I sat down facing the glorious morning sun and stayed there for 2 hours. There was hardly anyone there The next day I brought my son along and he was delighted with the place and took beautiful photos. We both absolutely loved this place. Worth a visit a 100%.. I would go back there any time.
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