Postcard from Lisbon's National Pantheon of Santa Engracia

Nina Santos

It may be argued that no view better represents Lisbon than the cityscape over Alfama with the National Pantheon’s white dome taking center stage. Listed as a National Monument and used as a burial for important political and cultural figures, it is certainly one of the most noteworthy buildings in the capital. Having survived a rocky history that included destruction, rebuilding efforts, and even a potential curse, the National Pantheon is certainly a building with a story.

Today’s National Pantheon was first built in the 16th century as the Church of Santa Engrácia on the order of Princess Maria of Portugal. The church was vandalized and destroyed in the early 17th century and stories suggest that the man accused placed a curse that would prevent the church from ever being completed. After a couple of failed attempts, reconstruction efforts began in 1681 under the leadership of head architect João Antunes and continued until Antunes’s death in 1712. Ignored by the current King of the time, King John V, and a financial crisis, the building stood partially completed for over 200 years. At the time of Antunes’s death, the majority of the building was finished with the exception of the top dome, and he is credited as having inspired the Baroque style and Greek cross.

The church became a National Pantheon in 1916 but the building, including the dome, was completed by 1966. Today, it is a top tourist spot and gets more attention due to its location in the middle of the Feira da Ladra. It is also located near Lisbon’s largest expression of street art in São Vicente de Fora. Open from Tuesday to Sunday, there is a €3 fee to enter and from the top visitors will be awarded with a stunning view over Alfama. The inside of the church is also breathtaking, especially the symmetrical floor plan and Greek symbology.

Among those buried in the National Pantheon include fado superstar Amalia Rodrigues, a few prominent writers, soccer superstar Eusébio da Silva Ferreira, and a few past presidents.

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

X
Edit article