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A historic maritime city, welcoming modern explorers

Europe’s westernmost capital is probably also its most stunningly situated, on hilly ground in a bend of the River Tagus where it broadens out into a giant bay. Writers rave about Lisbon’s unique light; modern tourists also warm to the mild climate and relaxed feel of its summer nights, when the bars' patrons spill out onto cobbled streets. Centuries of maritime exploration have also left a rich artistic heritage.

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Image of Igreja de São Vicente de Fora

Igreja de São Vicente de Fora

Igreja de São Vicente de Fora

Church of St. Vincent Outside the Walls

Church of St. Vincent Outside the Walls Editors' Note

Portugal’s first king, Afonso Henriques, laid the foundation stone for Igreja de São Vicente de Fora beyond the city walls in 1147, a month after taking Lisbon from the Moors. He was fulfilling a vow to construct Christian houses of worship where Portuguese soldiers and crusaders lay buried.

In 1580 Portugal’s then ruler King Philip II of Spain decided to start from scratch and brought in his own architect, Juan Herrera (builder of the Escorial outside Madrid), who, accompanied by Italian architect Filippo Terzi, designed a new Igreja de São Vicente in the Italian mannerist style.

The church was inaugurated in 1629, but severely damaged in the 1755 earthquake, when the main dome and roof collapsed on a crowded house of worshipers. The beautiful cloisters are richly decorated with many early 18thcentury tile panels, some of which illustrate the fables of La Fontaine.

Inside you’ll also find the royal pantheon of the Braganza family, the last dynasty to rule Portugal. The figure of a weeping woman kneels before the twin tombs of Dom Carlos I and Crown Prince Luís Filipe, who were cut down by assassins' bullets in 1908.

Igreja de São Vicente de Fora
Largo de São Vicente de Fora,, Lisbon
+351 218 824 400
Church 9am-6pm Tue-Sun. Cloisters 10am-6pm Tue-Sun.