Among the city’s many historical treasures, the Convento do Carmo stands out as a symbol of Lisbon’s enduring spirit and its creative architecture from the past. This remarkable building has seen centuries of change, from the Middle Ages to today, shaping the city’s look. . Let’s take a look at the intriguing history and architecture of the Carmo Convent, as well as what you can expect when visiting.
The history of the Convento do Carmo is as fascinating as it is complex. Its origins can be traced back to the late 14th century when it was founded by Nuno Álvares Pereira, a revered Portuguese knight and military hero. The convent was constructed to serve as the headquarters of the Carmelite Order in Lisbon and symbolized the piety and devotion of the people of that era.
The convent’s history is marked by significant events, none more poignant than the devastating earthquake of 1755. This natural disaster, which shook Lisbon to its core, left the Convento do Carmo in ruins. The once-majestic structure was reduced to a haunting silhouette of its former self. However, instead of rebuilding it, the decision was made to preserve the ruins as a solemn reminder of the catastrophe, creating an open-air archaeological museum within the city.
Originally constructed in the Gothic style, it showcased pointed arches and intricate tracery in its windows and doorways, reflecting the medieval influences of its time.
The convent also features elements of Manueline architecture, a uniquely Portuguese style that incorporated ornate decorations, maritime motifs, and a sense of grandeur. Its iconic rose window, a common feature in Manueline design, is a sight to behold, adorned with intricate stonework and floral patterns.
While the Gothic and Manueline styles dominate the Convento do Carmo, the ruins are a showcase of historical layers. Elements of Baroque and Romanesque styles can also be discerned, offering a visual tapestry of architectural evolution.
Perhaps the most striking feature is the open-air design, allowing visitors to wander through the ruins, exploring its chapels, cloisters, and the archaeological museum. The juxtaposition of ancient stone against the vibrant blue sky creates a unique and awe-inspiring atmosphere.
Visiting Times & Tickets
Tickets cost €5. The opening hours for the Convento do Carmo are as follows:
Monday to Saturday:
- November to April: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM (Last entry at 5:40 PM)
- May to October: 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM (Last entry at 6:40 PM)
- Easter week: 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM (Last entry at 6:40 PM)
- December 26th to January 6th: 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM (Last entry at 6:40 PM)
- January 1st
- May 1st
- December 25th
- Lisbon Half Day Private Tour