The most prominent reminder of the earthquake that destroyed most of the city of Lisbon in 1755 is the roofless nave and concrete rubble of Carmo Church and Convent, sitting high on a hill overlooking Rossio Square.
This Gothic church was once the largest church in Lisbon, and was packed with worshippers attending Mass on All Saints' Day in 1755 when the earthquake struck and the roof caved in. The large convent and its library of 5000 books were also lost that day.
Today the ruins of Carmo Convent and Church are a historical tourist attraction. Its bare pointed arches, pillars, and rubble stir the emotions and even my children were captivated. The church interior has a nave with three aisles and an apse with a main chapel and four side chapels.
What once was the main altar is now an archaeological museum (the Museu Arqueológico do Carmo or Carmo Archaeological Museum). Admission to the church covers admission to the museum and it's worth taking a look. My kids liked the mummies.
The museum also houses a collection of tombs, most famously that of King Ferdinand I, statuary, ceramics, mosaics, ancient tombstones, and other architectural relics from all periods of Portuguese history.
|Tomb of King Ferdinand I|
|16th century azulejo panels depicting scenes from the Passion of Christ.|
|Model of the Carmo Church before its destruction.|
|Rubble at Carmo Convent.|
The best way to reach Carmo Convent and Church is to ride the Santa Justa Lift to the top. The church is then right there in the Chiado district of Lisbon. Alternatively, you can take the green or the blue metro line to the Baixa/Chiado stop. The church is closed on Sundays, but open 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. May through September and 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 October through April. We paid 9.50€ admission for our family of two adults and two students. Occasional open-air orchestral concerts are held beneath the archways in the summer.