Walking around the center of Lisbon, it is impossible to pass by this building indifferently. “The old Lady” of Lisbon: Sé Patriarcal de Lisboa, also known as Igreja de Santa Maria Maior, is a majestic cathedral that over the centuries has been watching the lisboners and their daily life. If you are wondering what to see in Lisbon, be sure to come to the cathedral square: Largo da Sé to take a closer look at the confidant of Lisbon stories. In March and April it is especially pleasant here thanks to the smell of orange flowers that bloom on the trees growing along the southern wall of the church. It is also the perfect place to capture witch your camera the famous yellow tram 28. The cathedral hides many secrets, are you ready to discover them?
The history of the Sé de Lisboa cathedral in Lisbon
After capturing Lisbon from the hands of the Moors, Afonso Henriques in 1147 commissioned the construction of a temple on the ruins of a mosque. A massive Romanesque cathedral was built, the most important temple in the city, which has been the seat of bishops & patriarchate for centuries. During a long time the church also had a defensive function, it has two massive towers with loopholes. The beautiful rosette decorating the main façade is also an element of the Romanesque style. In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, cloisters were added to this religious complex. Unfortunately the cloisters were largely damaged during subsequent earthquakes and fires. Due to the numerous reconstructions throughout the history of the cathedral, now we can can observe a mixture of architectural styles from Romanesque to Baroque.
The relics of St. Vincent, brought to Lisbon in 1173 are in the cathedral treasury. The most valuable piece in the cathedral is a 17-kilogram gold monstrance donated by King Joseph I the Reformer (José I), 90 cm high, studded with over 4,000. rubies, sapphires, emeralds and other precious stones.
The mystery of the pentagrams of the Lisbon Cathedral
Those who venture deeper into the Lisbon cathedral and reach the dark cloisters may be surprised to see the pentagrams decorating the arcades. Nowadays, the Pythagorean star has evil connotations and its presence in temples may shock. What is the meaning of these infamous symbols and who placed them in the Lisbon Cathedral? The pentagram was a sign already known in the Neolithic times. In ancient Greece it was seen as a symbol of perfection, it was associated with life and health, and in ancient times the belief in its protective properties was so strong that the Babylonians often drew it on food containers to prevent it from rotting. Since the 19th century, the Pentagram has been considered a symbol of Satan, due to its resemblance to the head of a goat (when it is turned with two vertices up). However, for the early Christians, this sign represented Jesus’ five wounds (because of the 5 vertices). In the Middle Ages the Pentagrams were credited with the power of an amulet to protect the places where they were located against the forces and influence of evil. No wonder then that builders in those days placed these signs in the architectural elements of buildings. In the cathedral in Lisbon, pentagrams were designed to protect the temple, cloisters, priests and believers from the evil forces.
How to get to the Sé Cathedral in Lisbon
Sé Cathedral is located in the center of Lisbon, near the Terreiro do Paço / Praça do Comércio metro station (blue line), about a 6-minute walk. Baixa Chiado Metro Station is a 10-minute walk away. There is a 28E tram stop and a 737 bus stop next to the Cathedral.
Address: Sé Catedral, Largo da Sé. MAP
The Cathedral is open daily from 9.00 a.m. to 7.00 p.m., admission free.
Cloisters: May – September, daily 14.00 – 19.00, October – April Mon – Sat 10.00 – 18.00, Sun 14.00 – 18.00, 2.5 €.
Treasury: Mon – Sat 10.00-17.00, 2.5 €.