Lisbon Cathedral

Lisbon Cathedral

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The Patriarchal Cathedral of St. Mary Major ( or ) is a Roman Catholic parish church located in Lisbon, Portugal. The oldest church in the city is the see of the Archdiocese of Lisbon
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Lisbon
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Lisbon is an Archdiocese of the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church in Portugal. Erected as the Diocese of Lisbon in the 4th Century, the Diocese was elevated to an Archdiocese in 1392...

. Since the beginning of the construction of the cathedral, in the year 1147, the building has been modified several times and survived many earthquakes. It is nowadays a mix of different architectural styles.

History


Lisbon
Lisbon
Lisbon is the capital city and largest city of Portugal with a population of 545,245 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Lisbon extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of 3 million on an area of , making it the 9th most populous urban...

 has been the seat of a bishopric
Diocese
A diocese is the district or see under the supervision of a bishop. It is divided into parishes.An archdiocese is more significant than a diocese. An archdiocese is presided over by an archbishop whose see may have or had importance due to size or historical significance...

 since the 4th century AD (see Patriarch of Lisbon
Patriarch of Lisbon
The Patriarch of Lisbon is an honorary title possessed by the archbishop of the Archdiocese of Lisbon.The first patriarch of Lisbon was D. Tomás de Almeida, who was appointed in 1716 by Pope Clement XI...

). After the period of Visigothic domination the city was conquered by the Moors and stayed under Arab control from the 8th to the 12th century, although Christians were allowed to live in Lisbon and its surroundings. In the year 1147, the city was reconquered by an army composed of Portuguese soldiers led by King Afonso Henriques and North European crusaders taking part on the Second Crusade
Second Crusade
The Second Crusade was the second major crusade launched from Europe. The Second Crusade was started in response to the fall of the County of Edessa the previous year to the forces of Zengi. The county had been founded during the First Crusade by Baldwin of Boulogne in 1098...

 (see Siege of Lisbon
Siege of Lisbon
The Siege of Lisbon, from July 1 to October 25, 1147, was the military action that brought the city of Lisbon under definitive Portuguese control and expelled its Moorish overlords. The Siege of Lisbon was one of the few Christian victories of the Second Crusade—it was "the only success of the...

). An English crusader named Gilbert of Hastings
Gilbert of Hastings
Gilbert of Hastings was an English monk in the Christian army of the Second Crusade that fought in the siege of Lisbon. After the victory, he was chosen to be Bishop of Lisbon.-Notes:...

 was placed as 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
Romanesque architecture
Romanesque architecture is an architectural style of Medieval Europe characterised by semi-circular arches. There is no consensus for the beginning date of the Romanesque architecture, with proposals ranging from the 6th to the 10th century. It developed in the 12th century into the Gothic style,...

 style. At that time the relics of St Vincent of Saragossa
Vincent of Saragossa
Saint Vincent of Saragossa, also known as Vincent Martyr, Vincent of Huesca or Vincent the Deacon, is the patron saint of Lisbon. His feast day is 22 January in the Roman Catholic Church and Anglican Communion and 11 November in the Eastern Orthodox Churches...

, patron saint of Lisbon, were brought to the cathedral from Southern Portugal. In the end of the 13th century King Dinis of Portugal built a Gothic
Gothic architecture
Gothic architecture is a style of architecture that flourished during the high and late medieval period. It evolved from Romanesque architecture and was succeeded by Renaissance architecture....

 cloister, and his successor Afonso IV of Portugal
Afonso IV of Portugal
Afonso IV , called the Brave , was the seventh king of Portugal and the Algarve from 1325 until his death. He was the only legitimate son of King Denis of Portugal by his wife Elizabeth of Aragon.-Biography:...

 had the main chapel converted into a royal pantheon in Gothic style for him and his family. In 1498, Queen Eleanor of Viseu founded the (Brotherhood of Invocation to Our Lady of Mercy of Lisbon ) in one of the chapels of the cloister of the cathedral. This brotherhood evolved into the Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa
Santa Casa da Misericórdia
The Santa Casa da Misericórdia is a Portuguese charity founded in Lisbon in 1498 by the Queen Leonor of Portugal....

, a Catholic charitable institution that later spread to other cities and had a very important role in Portugal and its colonies.

Earthquakes have always been a problem for Lisbon and its cathedral. During the 14th and 16th centuries there were several of them, but the worst of all was the 1755 Lisbon earthquake
1755 Lisbon earthquake
The 1755 Lisbon earthquake, also known as the Great Lisbon Earthquake, was a megathrust earthquake that took place on Saturday 1 November 1755, at around 9:40 in the morning. The earthquake was followed by fires and a tsunami, which almost totally destroyed Lisbon in the Kingdom of Portugal, and...

, which destroyed the Gothic main chapel along with the royal pantheon. The cloisters and many chapels were also ruined by the quake and the fire that followed. The cathedral was partially rebuilt and, in the beginning of the 20th century, was given the appearance that it has today after a profound renovation. In recent years the central courtyard of the cloister has been excavated and shows signs of the Roman, Arab and mediaeval periods.

Art & Architecture


Lisbon
Lisbon
Lisbon is the capital city and largest city of Portugal with a population of 545,245 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Lisbon extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of 3 million on an area of , making it the 9th most populous urban...

 cathedral is a Latin cross building with three aisles, a transept
Transept
For the periodical go to The Transept.A transept is a transverse section, of any building, which lies across the main body of the building. In Christian churches, a transept is an area set crosswise to the nave in a cruciform building in Romanesque and Gothic Christian church architecture...

 and a main chapel surrounded by an ambulatory
Ambulatory
The ambulatory is the covered passage around a cloister. The term is sometimes applied to the procession way around the east end of a cathedral or large church and behind the high altar....

. The church is connected with a cloister
Cloister
A cloister is a rectangular open space surrounded by covered walks or open galleries, with open arcades on the inner side, running along the walls of buildings and forming a quadrangle or garth...

 on the Eastern side. The main façade of the cathedral looks like a fortress, with two towers flanking the entrance and crenellations over the walls. This menacing appearance, also seen in other Portuguese cathedrals of the time, is a relic from the Reconquista
Reconquista
The Reconquista was a period of almost 800 years in the Middle Ages during which several Christian kingdoms succeeded in retaking the Muslim-controlled areas of the Iberian Peninsula broadly known as Al-Andalus...

 period, when the cathedral could be used as a base to attack the enemy during a siege.

Romanesque


From its first building period (1147 until the first decades of the 13th century), Lisbon cathedral has preserved the West façade with a rose window
Rose window
A Rose window is often used as a generic term applied to a circular window, but is especially used for those found in churches of the Gothic architectural style and being divided into segments by stone mullions and tracery...

 (rebuilt from fragments in the 20th century), the main portal, the North lateral portal and the nave of the cathedral. The portals have interesting sculptured capital
Capital (architecture)
In architecture the capital forms the topmost member of a column . It mediates between the column and the load thrusting down upon it, broadening the area of the column's supporting surface...

s with Romanesque motifs. The nave is covered by barrel vault
Barrel vault
A barrel vault, also known as a tunnel vault or a wagon vault, is an architectural element formed by the extrusion of a single curve along a given distance. The curves are typically circular in shape, lending a semi-cylindrical appearance to the total design...

ing and has an upper, arched gallery (triforium
Triforium
A triforium is a shallow arched gallery within the thickness of inner wall, which stands above the nave of a church or cathedral. It may occur at the level of the clerestory windows, or it may be located as a separate level below the clerestory. It may itself have an outer wall of glass rather than...

). Light gets in through the rose windows of the West façade and transept, the narrow windows of the lateral aisles of the nave as well as the windows of the lantern tower of the transept. The general plan of the cathedral is very similar to that of the Old Cathedral of Coimbra
Old Cathedral of Coimbra
The Old Cathedral of Coimbra is one of the most important Romanesque Roman Catholic buildings in Portugal. Construction of the Sé Velha began some time after the Battle of Ourique , when Count Afonso Henriques declared himself King of Portugal and chose Coimbra as capital...

, which dates from the same period. One of the chapels of the ambulatory has an interesting Romanesque iron gate.


Gothic


King Dinis of Portugal ordered the construction of a cloister in Gothic style in the end of the 13th century, which was severely damaged by the 1755 earthquake. Near the entrance of the cathedral, a rich merchant, Bartolomeu Joanes, built a funerary chapel for himself in the beginning of the 14th century. His tomb with his laying figure is still inside. Somewhat later, King Afonso IV of Portugal
Afonso IV of Portugal
Afonso IV , called the Brave , was the seventh king of Portugal and the Algarve from 1325 until his death. He was the only legitimate son of King Denis of Portugal by his wife Elizabeth of Aragon.-Biography:...

 had the Romanesque apse
Apse
In architecture, the apse is a semicircular recess covered with a hemispherical vault or semi-dome...

 replaced by a Gothic main chapel surrounded by an ambulatory
Ambulatory
The ambulatory is the covered passage around a cloister. The term is sometimes applied to the procession way around the east end of a cathedral or large church and behind the high altar....

 with radiating chapels. The king and his family were buried in the main chapel, but their tombs and the chapel itself were destroyed in the 1755 earthquake. The ambulatory has survived and is an important work in the history of Portuguese Gothic. It consists of a circular aisle - not connected to the main chapel - with a series of radiating chapels. The second storey of the ambulatory is covered by ribbed vaulting and has a series of windows (clerestory
Clerestory
Clerestory is an architectural term that historically denoted an upper level of a Roman basilica or of the nave of a Romanesque or Gothic church, the walls of which rise above the rooflines of the lower aisles and are pierced with windows. In modern usage, clerestory refers to any high windows...

) that bathe the interior with abundant light.

The ambulatory contains three outstanding Gothic tombs from the mid-14th century. One tomb belongs to Lopo Fernandes Pacheco, 7th Lord of Ferreira de Aves, a nobleman at the service of King Afonso IV. His laying figure appears holding his sword and is guarded by a dog. His wife, Maria de Vilalobos, appears over her tomb reading a Book of Hours
Book of Hours
The book of hours was a devotional book popular in the later Middle Ages. It is the most common type of surviving medieval illuminated manuscript. Like every manuscript, each manuscript book of hours is unique in one way or another, but most contain a similar collection of texts, prayers and...

. The third tomb belongs to an unidentified royal princess's booties. All tombs are decorated with coats-of-arms.
In the last quarter of the 15th century it is believed that the famous Saint Vincent Panels
Saint Vincent Panels
The Saint Vincent Panels, or The 'Adoration of Saint Vincent' panels, are a polyptych consisting of six panels that were painted in the 1460s. They are attributed to the Portuguese painter Nuno Gonçalves who was active from 1450 to 1471...

, painted by Nuno Gonçalves
Nuno Gonçalves
Nuno Gonçalves was a 15th century Portuguese artist credited for the painting of the paineis de São Vicente de Fora . The panels depict the main elements of Portuguese society in the 15th century: clergy, nobility and common people....

, were placed in the St Vincent chapel of the ambulatory. The panels are now in the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga (National Museum of Ancient Art) in Lisbon.

Modern times


During the 17th century a fine sacristy was built in baroque
Baroque
The Baroque is a period and the style that used exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, painting, literature, dance, and music...

 style and, after 1755, the main chapel was rebuilt in neoclassical
Neoclassical architecture
Neoclassical architecture was an architectural style produced by the neoclassical movement that began in the mid-18th century, manifested both in its details as a reaction against the Rococo style of naturalistic ornament, and in its architectural formulas as an outgrowth of some classicizing...

 and Rococo
Rococo
Rococo , also referred to as "Late Baroque", is an 18th-century style which developed as Baroque artists gave up their symmetry and became increasingly ornate, florid, and playful...

 styles (including the tombs of King Afonso IV and his family). Machado de Castro, Portugal's foremost sculptor in the late 18th century, is the author of a magnificent crib in the Gothic chapel of Bartomoleu Joanes. In the beginning of the 20th century, much of the neoclassical decoration from outside and inside of the cathedral was removed to give the cathedral a more "mediaeval" appearance.