Santa Engracia – Lisbon

The National Pantheon in Lisbon, Portugal is a 17th century church that was converted to a national monument and is now the final resting place for Portuguese personalities. Walk with me from the ‘Santa Apollonia’ metro stop up to this church.

The main road outside the metro station is by the shore. Observe the way that the architecture changes: from the more formal, ornate military museum at ground level to the hotchpotch of houses and apartments built as if by a 5-year-old playing Lego. Note the colours that gleam in the sunlight and throb in the grey mist that rolls in over the Tagus river.

The multi-coloured and vibrant facades of Lisbon - Portugal

The multi-coloured facades of Lisbon

But you don’t really care because you’re on holiday

A photo of a street in Lisbon

A random street in Lisbon, featuring apartments, life and old bars that drunk people no longer patronise.

Look up at the sky through the prism of washed clothes that are hanging out to dry – sheets, shirts, shoes even. Peer through the darkened windows to see old bars that are closed or which are still in use and are, perhaps, unkempt.

But you don’t really care because you’re on holiday.

The narrow streets and alleys of Lisbon - Portugal

The narrow streets and alleys of Lisbon

Dodge the traffic that hurtles through the narrow alleys and side streets jostling pedestrians for priority but you can’t use the pavements because the buildings are being restored and there is scaffolding everywhere.

But you don’t really care because you’re on holiday.

Heave a sigh of relief as you reach the Campo de Santa Clara, only to gasp at the sight; a converted church that previously taunted you with peeks through narrow red-roofed alleys.

A photo of Santa Egrazia peering over the rooftops

Santa Engracia monitors your progress up the hill

The first stone of the present building was placed in 1682; it was the first baroque-style building in the country. The work lasted so long that it gave rise to the popular expression “works of Santa Engrácia” to designate something that never ends. It took 284 years to complete the church, finally finished in the year 1966 when a dome was constructed for it.

A Photo of the marble-coated interior of Santa Egrazia - Lisbon, Portugal

The marble-coated interior of Santa Engracia

Inside you will find the interior paved in colored marble, and outside you can’t miss the giant dome. There is a terrace at the top; catch your breath as you climb the 187 steps to the top of the white marble building. In front of you, windsurfers catch the breeze over the river and float, effortlessly. The red rooftops line the vista in front of you, coating the multi-coloured tiled facades that you weaved your way through to get here.

The rooftops of Lisbon and the Tagus from Santa Egrazia - Lisbon, Portugal

The view of Lisbon from the top of Santa Engracia

You feel a general sense of serenity and realise the truth that had been evading you all morning.

You do care, because you’re on holiday


About Antoine

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  1. oh, but I do care! especially in Lisbon…I care so much!

  2. Tip: for a taste of the incline of Lisbon’s seven hills take the little alleyway tucked away at the corner of…

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