Discover the ruins of the Carmo Convent in Lisbon

Visiting the Carmo Convent in Lisbon is a must if you like history. Here, you can visit the Carmo Archeological Museum, which has ancient objects within the ruins of the former convent.

Carmo Convent

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What to expect at the Lisbon Carmo Convent ruins

  • What to see? The Carmo Covent was heavily damaged during the 1755 earthquake, and reconstruction was never completed. The roofless church now houses the Carmo Archeological Museum, which showcases South American mummies, prehistoric objects, relics and more!
  • Costs? € 7,00 for adults. With the Lisboa Card, it’s € 5,00.
  • Where? On Largo do Carmo in the heart of the city.
  • Worth it? It’s an excellent landmark for history buffs, and the Archeological Museum houses some unique pieces. 

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The Carmo Convent history

The Carmo Convent or Convento do Carmo in Portuguese, was founded in 1389 by D. Nuno Álvares Pereira. The Carmo Church was dedicated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel and built by architect Gomes Martins. Construction started on the opposite hills of São Jorge Castle. You would have to view the Royal Palace, the Cathedral Sé de Lisboa and the São Vicente de Fora Monastery from the convent.

The Gothic church was known to be one of the most beautiful and biggest of its time. That was until the earth was shaking in 1755. An earthquake between 8.5 and 9.0 magnitude completely destroyed many places in Portugal, including the Carmo Church, while many people were attending mass. The building was heavily damaged! The roof collapsed, including the religious and artistic contents within it.

Reconstruction of the neo-Gothic historical site started in 1756 but stopped in 1834. Religious orders were abolished in Portugal, and the church was far from restored. There was the main chapel and four side chapels in total. Only the nave and transept still stood tall. And this is how we still see the Carmo Convent today. In front of the Carmo Church, you’ll spot a stone engraved with Gothic lettering. It’s informing visitors that Pope Clement VII will grant 40 days of indulgence to any faithful Christian visiting the church.

Museu Arqueológico

The Carmo Archaeological Museum (MAC) is located within the ruins of the old church of Santa Maria do Carmo. Royal architect Joaquim Possidónio da Silva founded the Portuguese Civil Architects Association in 1863. From this, the Association of Portuguese Archaeologists was created. The Museu Arqueológico holds an eclectic collection, including remnants of the devastating earthquake.

In 1864, the small Archaeological Museum was installed, and the area was used as a storage for important sculptures and religious artefacts. Among the rubble, many pieces could be retained and displayed. Other important archaeological items, such as prehistoric objects, relics, and artistic pieces, were added to the collection. The collection now consists of objects from the Middle Ages and other eras.

Some of these objects can be viewed around the nave of the church. Others are located indoors in halls 1 to 5. The collection includes tombstones (King Ferdinand I has the largest tomb), Peruvian mummies, a Sarcophagus, an Egyptian mummy, basins, books, and azulejo panels.

Carmo Convent Under the Stars

The Carmo Convent is also the decor of an immersive light show! The show is even more impressive as the Carmo Convent has no roof! So you’re literally under the stars. Lisbon Under Stars takes 45 minutes, and the immersive experience is about the history of Lisbon. The experience is not always available, so book in time! 

Carmo Convent ticket price

  • The ticket price for adults is € 7,00
  • With the Lisboa Card, you get a discount and pay € 5,00. Besides, you get to use public transport for free for 24 hours, and free entrance or discount to many more landmarks in the city.
  • Children 0-14 free.

Guided tours are available within the premises. The staff will be able to let you know the times.

Carmo Convent opening hours

Monday to Saturday:

  • November to April: 10 AM until 6 PM
  • May to October: 10 AM until 7 PM
  • Easter week: 10 AM until 7 PM
  • December 26th to January 6th: 10 AM until 7 PM

Closed:

 The Carmo Convent is closed on Sundays, January 1st, May 1st and December 25th.

How to get to the Carmo Convent

The ruined church and Carmo Archeological Museum are located at Largo do Carmo, 1200-092 Lisboa. Bus 758 stops very near the convent. You can also take the famous Tram 28, which stops a short walk from the Carmo Convent.

The closest railway station is Rossio. If you come by metro, you can exit at Baixa-Chiado Station on the blue and green line. You can take the escalators from the metro to Praça Luís de Camões. This will save you a lot of uphill walking.

You can also take the Elevador de Santa Justa to avoid the roads uphill. This is another sight to visit when visiting the capital of Portugal. But be aware the queue can be extensive during the high season, and you might have to wait a bit to travel up.

You’ll be rewarded with a stunning view over Lisbon, though, and you have the perfect view of the ruined church. The Santa Justa Elevator is also free with the Lisboa Card!

What else to do in the area

Aside from the Elevador de Santa Justa, there is plenty to do around the convent. Walk towards Príncipe Real and discover the view from Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara. Or take a ride on the funicular at Calçada da Glória.

Another fantastic viewpoint is Miradouro de Santa Catarina. On the way, you’ll spot the funicular at Rua da Bica de Duarte Belo, one of Lisbon’s famous sights. Walk down towards Time Out Market for a bite, or explore Chiado and the many shops. You’ll also easily reach Arco da Rua Augusta and Praça do Comércio from this area.

Staying overnight in the Baixa-Chiado area

The Baixa-Chiado area is in the very heart of Lisbon. Staying overnight in this area will ensure you can see all the sights easily! Bairro Alto has some lovely areas (although, mind the streets full of bars if you want a decent night’s sleep), and Príncipe Real is loved by many. Check the map below for some of the best downtown hotels in Lisbon!

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FAQ

Yes! The structure is a famous landmark in Lisbon, and the ruins have a lot of history. The archaeological museum is inside the former convent, containing some unique pieces, including a Peruvian mummy!

No, the entrance fee is € 7,00 per person. If you have a Lisbon Card, you get a discount and pay € 5,00 per person. (2024 prices)

Adults pay € 7,00 for entrance to visit the former church and archaeological site. Students and seniors pay € 5,00, and children 0-14 can visit for free. (2024 prices)

You need around 30 minutes to visit the roofless church and the archaeology museum.

Conclusion

The Carmo Convent is a place full of history and great archaeological importance. You’ll need around 30-60 minutes to visit the sight, which makes it the perfect place to see in Lisbon. Also, as it’s so close to the Santa Justa Lift, it’s hard to exclude it from your itinerary!

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7 Comments

  1. Planning a trip for Lisbon and I hadn’t heard of this! Sounds like an interesting and affordable activity I will definitely be checking out!

  2. Thanks for the quick history lesson and pertinent info for visiting Carmo Convent. I enjoy visiting historical sites like this; those mummies are wild – I can’t imagine seeing them in person. Really incredible! Xx Sara

  3. What an interesting place and your photos made it come alive. I’d really like to sit in one of the many trams and enjoy riding through the small streets!

  4. Wow this is so interesting! I’m heading to Lisbon next week and will be adding this to the itinerary!

  5. It would be nice to visit the Carmo convent. The incompleteness of the church kind of brings out the history of the place. I must add the vegan nata option close to the Carmo convent gives another reason to visit the place I guess 🙂

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