Se (Lisbon)

Se Cathedral Lisbon



Location: Largo da Se
Tel. 21- 886 67 52
Bus: 37
Trolley: 12, 28
Open: daily


Se Cathedral was constructed on a site of much older Ancient Roman pagan temple. Later it was converted into a Christian basilica in 4th century AD. Christian church was later turned into a Muslim mosque after Moors or Arabs conquered this region of Portugal. Muslim mosque was demolished after Christian armies retook this area of Europe. A new Se Cathedral was subsequently erected on this site. The cathedral largely resembles a medieval fortress. Even two large bell towers on each side of the Western Entrance have loopholes for firing arrows and observation of surrounding lands. The windows of the towers were added much later, but originally it had no large opening. This is a reason why Se Cathedral survived Earthquake of 1755. The interior of Se is dark and fairly gloomy due to lack of large windows. It also contains burial site of Portuguese monarchs including King Alfonso IV and his wife Beatrice. The Treasury of Se Cathedral stores a collection of priestly vestments, medieval manuscripts, Roman Catholic sculptures, silverware and many other beautiful sacred relics.

Se Cathedral Lisbon  Se Cathedral Lisbon



Lisbon has been an episcopate since the 4th century AD (see the Lisbon Patriarch). After a period of Visigothic domination, the city was conquered by the Moors and remained under Arabian control from the 8th to 12th centuries, although Christians were allowed to live in Lisbon and its environs. In 1147, the city was recaptured by an army consisting of Portuguese soldiers led by King Afonso the Great, and Northern European crusaders who took part in the second crusade. An English crusader named Gilbert of Hastings was installed as a bishop, and a new cathedral was built on the site of the main mosque of Lisbon.

This first building was completed between 1147 and the first decades of the 13th century in late Romanesque style. At that time, the relics of St. Vincent from Zaragoza, the patron saint of Lisbon, were brought to the cathedral from southern Portugal. At the end of the 13th century, King Dinish I built a Gothic monastery, and his successor Afonso IV turned the main chapel into a Gothic-style royal pantheon for himself and his family. In 1498, Queen Leonora of Avis founded a fraternity in one of the chapels of the cathedral’s monastery, which later turned into the Catholic charity Santa Casa da Misericérdia de Lisboa, which later spread to other cities and played an important role in the history of Portugal and its colonies.

The 1755 earthquake destroyed the main chapel along with the royal pantheon. The monastery and many chapels were also destroyed by an earthquake and fire. The cathedral was partially rebuilt, and at the beginning of the 20th century, after a deep reconstruction, it got its present appearance. In recent years, archaeological excavations have been carried out in the cloister of the monastery, which laid bare the buildings of the ancient Roman, Arab and medieval periods.

Bishop defenestration
During the interregnum 1383-1385. the population accused the bishop of House Martigno Annes of conspiring with the Castilians, and the townspeople threw him out of the window of the north tower....


Lisbon Cathedral - a building in terms of the Latin cross with three naves, a transept and the main chapel, surrounded by a deambulatory. The cathedral is connected to the monastery on its eastern side. The main facade of the cathedral looks like a fortress, with two towers adjacent to the entrance, and battlements above the walls. This menacing view, also seen in other Portuguese churches of the time, is an echo of the Reconquista period, when the cathedral could be used as a base for attacking the enemy during a siege.

Romanesque period
From the first period of its existence (mid-XII - first quarter of the XIII century), the cathedral has preserved the western facade with a rosette window (recreated from fragments in the XX century), the main portal, the northern side portal and the central nave. The portals feature sculptural capitals of the Romanesque motif. The nave is covered with a cylindrical vault and has an upper arched gallery (triforium). Light penetrates through the rosette windows of the western facade and transept, through the narrow windows of the side aisles of the nave, and also through the windows of the tower of the transept lantern. The general plan of the cathedral is very similar to the general plan of the Old Cathedral of Coimbra, which dates back to the same period. In one of the ambulance chapels are Romanesque iron gates.

Gothic period
At the end of the 13th century, King Dinis ordered the construction of a cloister in the Gothic style, which was subsequently seriously damaged by the 1755 earthquake. At the entrance to the cathedral, the wealthy merchant Bartolomeu Joanes built a funerary chapel at the beginning of the 14th century; the grave with its remains is still inside. A little later, under King Afonso IV, a Romanesque apse was built, replaced by a Gothic main chapel surrounded by an outpatient clinic with radially located chapels. The king and his family were buried in the main chapel, but their graves and the chapel itself were destroyed by the 1755 earthquake. The ambulance has been preserved and is a significant example of Portuguese Gothic. The second floor of the dispensary is covered with a ribbed arch and has a series of windows (cleistoria) that illuminate the interior with plenty of light.
There are three outstanding Gothic tombs of the mid-14th century in the dispensary. One tomb belongs to Lopo Fernandez Pacheco, 7th Lord Ferreira de Ave, a nobleman in the service of King Afonso IV. He is depicted lying with a sword in his hands and guarded by a dog. His wife, Maria de Vilalobos, is sculptured above her grave reading the Book of Hours. The third tomb belongs to an unidentified princess. All tombs are decorated with coats of arms.

Modern period
An elegant sacristy was built in the 17th century in the Baroque style, and after 1755 the main chapel was rebuilt in the neoclassical and rococo style (including the tombs of King Afonso IV and his family). Machado de Castro, the chief sculptor of Portugal at the end of the 18th century, was the author of magnificent creche in the Gothic chapel of Bartomoleu Joanes. At the beginning of the 20th century, the exterior and interior were cleared of neoclassical layers to give the cathedral a more “medieval” look.