No matter your faith (or even lack of!), this survey of Catholic heritage sites in Lisbon explains the pivotal role of religion in Portuguese history.
Without the Catholic Church, Portugal might have never emerged as a separate, independent kingdom. Afonso Henriques managed to win recognition as King through an ingenious plan of making donations to the Vatican, conquering territory from Muslims & offering that land to important religious orders of the time. Subsequent kings fought Muslims in Africa & Asia as the Portuguese empire grew. But by the 1700s, religion became less important & was even questioned.
The Marquês de Pombal not only rebuilt Lisbon after the devastating earthquake of 1755 but also managed to convince the Pope to disband the Jesuits worldwide. Dissolution of all of Portugal’s religious orders in 1834 ushered in a long period of decline for the Catholic Church… only to make a brief comeback during the 41 years of Salazar’s Estado Novo. As Europe has become more secular, homosexuality & abortion have only recently been discussed in 21st-century Portugal.
Over 80% of Portuguese people identify as Catholic, ranking with Poland & Ireland as some of the most devout in Europe. And with almost 70% of all national heritage sites belonging to the Catholic church, no visit to Lisbon would be complete without understanding how religion has shaped & continues to influence Portuguese identity.
The author—who did not grow up Catholic or even particularly religious—struggled during 20 years of travel to Lisbon, trying to make sense of the complex relationship between church & state. Through academic research & lots of discussion with close friends, this guide focuses on the historical importance of Catholicism as well as its social significance. Lisbon’s main monuments contain artistic treasures & fascinating stories along with personal meaning for many people. Consider this a religious guide written for a secular audience!
Following a concise but detailed historical introduction, this guide presents different architectural styles, useful vocabulary & respectful norms to follow while visiting churches. Because the subway system is an easy way to reach most listings, a Metro map has also been included. Each church or chapel discussed is accompanied by a detailed floor plan with a complete listing of saints depicted both inside & out.
While this guide does not contain a complete listing of all 100+ Catholic sites in Lisbon—a worthy but monumental task—the 22 locations selected represent a sample of the city’s finest. By discussing the evolution of Portugal’s relationship with the Catholic church, we hope to dispel that often-heard notion that all churches are the same. Far from it. History helps put many places into their proper context… & that’s what Endless Mile guides are all about!
Sample sheets below demonstrate the guide’s general layout:
Hot off the digital press!! Following is a list of all sites included in this edition:
Unsure if this guide is for you?
Not a problem. We’ve made our guide to DOMES OF BUENOS AIRES available for download free of charge! Although you’re thinking about Lisbon, this 12-page, map-based PDF (only 2 Mb) allows you to examine the general structure, layout & writing style of all Endless Mile guides. Plus, in the future you’ll have an opportunity to discover 75 great domes in Buenos Aires as well. Some features you’ll find are: a brief historical background, a summary of architectural styles & lots of original artwork. Take a look!