Lisbon Cathedral, Portugal

Lisbon Cathedral, also known as Sé de Lisboa, is the oldest and most important church in the city. Its construction was undertaken in 1147 directly after the Moors strong hold on the city that had existed from the 8th century onwards had been crushed by crusaders, this was after they had first ‘liberated’ Lisbon by pillaging and looting the city! The Sé was built on the ruins of a Mosque that had been destroyed, a timeless reminder of the end of Moorish rule in Lisbon. An English crusader named Gilbert of Hastings was made bishop of the new cathedral and it was during the latter part of the 12th and early part of the 13th century that the main late Romanesque form of the cathedral was erected. At this time the relics of St Vincent of Saragossa, the patron saint of Lisbon, were brought to the cathedral from southern Portugal. At the end of the 13th century King Dinis built the Gothic cloister to the rear of the altar, followed by his successor Afonso IV who had the main chapel converted into Gothic royal pantheon for his family.

The cathedral survived numerous natural disasters from the 14th to the 16th century but was hard hit by the catastrophic earthquake of 1755 which left the gothic main chapel and the royal pantheon in ruin, the cloisters and side chapels were also badly damaged in the fire that followed the quake. It should also be noted that hundreds of worshippers were in the cathedral celebrating the feast of All Saints when the earthquake struck, causing the roof to collapse.

The cathedral was rebuilt and heavily renovated during the early part of the 20th century. In recent years excavations at the central courtyard of the cloisters have revealed Roman, Arabic and early medieval remains. The treasury is well worth a visit, with its halls, jewels and ecclesiastical relics dripping in gold. As part of the entrance fee to the treasury one can take in an amazing view of the cathedral from the choir and also get a closer look at the amazing ‘rose’ window, a strained glass window that was reconstructed during the last century from fragments of the window that existed prior to the earthquake.

GPS: 38.70987, -9.13258

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