The castle-like exterior of Lisbon Cathedral
Lisbon’s cathedral (or the Church of Santa Maria Maior) is one of the city’s oldest and most robust monuments. It dates back to 1147, and survived battles and the devastating earthquake of 1755. It suffered countless alterations over the centuries, and ended up with a mix of the Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque styles.
The interior of Lisbon Cathedral
From outside, with its defensive towers and battlements, it could be confused for a castle, if it didn’t have its bells and large rose window.
In the dark interior is a nativity scene created in 1766 by master sculptor Machado de Castro, and, to the left of the main entrance, the font where St. Anthony was baptized in 1195 (now decorated with tile panels added in the 18th century).
St. Anthony's baptismal font
In the Gothic cloisters are archaeological excavations that have revealed different layers of Lisbon’s past 3000 years, with foundations of Roman, Visigothic, and Moorish constructions. There is also a number of sarcophagi and tombs holding the remains of illustrious personalities, including King Afonso IV, who reigned in the early 1300s.
The archaeological excavations in the cloisters
Upstairs is the treasury, with a collection of illuminated manuscripts, silverware, sculptures, and a priceless monstrance from the 18th century, made of precious gems. You’re not allowed to photograph any of the pieces, but you may snap a photo of the view of downtown Lisbon from the windows.
Lisbon Cathedral chancel
Mass weddings take place in the cathedral every June 13th, the day of St. Anthony, who was revered as a matchmaker. He was born on the site where you now see the church named after him, right across from the cathedral.
Lisbon Cathedral treasure
How to Get to the Cathedral
The cathedral is just a short walk from the squares downtown -- follow the tram tracks up the hill, and you’re there in five to ten minutes. You may also take tram 28 or tram 12, which you may ride for free with the Lisboa Card.
Largo da Sé, Alfama
Admission and Tickets to the Cathedral
The church is free, but there’s an admission charge for the cloisters (€2.50) and the treasury (€2.50). A ticket for both the cloisters and the treasury is €4.00.
The cathedral is not included in the Lisboa Card.
Opens every day
Right across from the cathedral is the Church of St. Anthony and a museum devoted to the saint, on the site where he was born. Next to the cathedral is the fascinating Aljube Museum, a former prison which now explains what it was like to live under a fascist regime and to fight for democracy and freedom in 20th-century Portugal. The museum's café offers the best view of the cathedral.
Where to Stay by the Cathedral
Memmo Alfama Hotel
Hidden in an alley behind the cathedral, this design hotel offers one of the most beautiful views of Lisbon. All of Alfama can be seen from its terrace, which has a small pool and a bar.