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The history of the National Pantheon in Lisbon
Did you know that it took so long to build the Panteão Nacional in Lisbon that it’s the longest monument ever to be completed in Portugal? Construction of the Church of Santa Engrácia started in the 16th century, and the dome was completed in 1966. It took more than 300 years! No wonder people use the expression, “it’s a job like Santa Engrácia,” when something takes forever. In the end, it wasn’t even ever used as a church.
The Church of Saint Engrácia is built on the foundations of an earlier church. This building was torn down in 1630 after being trashed by a robbery. The story goes that a Jew was blamed for the theft, and he got executed. Before his death, however, he cursed the church; hence it took many years to be completed.
Since 1916, the Church of Saint Engrácia has been known as the National Pantheon and as the first baroque monument in Portugal. The building was inspired by the Basilica di San Pietro in Vatican City in Rome and was designed by royal architect João Antunes. The multicoloured marble interior and the huge dome have many similarities.
What to see inside the National Pantheon
The National Pantheon holds the tombs of many famous Portuguese people. Examples are navigator Vasco de Gama (buried in the Jerónimos Monastery in Belém), Queen of Fado Amália Rodrigues, footballer Eusébio da Silva Ferreira, Infante D. Henrique (Prince Henry the Navigator, buried at the Batalha Monastery), and poet Luís de Camões (buried in the Jerónimos Monastery in Belém).
In the middle of the Pantheon, you’ll discover an octagonal floor plan with the tombs surrounding the centre at the Greek Cross. You can find other tombs in the small rooms on each side of the National Pantheon. You can also climb up the stairs and visit the fantastic terrace around the dome. From the balcony, you have a stunning view of Lisbon and Alfama.
National Pantheon Lisbon tickets
Do you want to see this beauty for yourself? The ticket price for the National Pantheon Lisbon is only € 4,00, and you can buy a ticket online by clicking HERE. Buying your tickets online will give you fast-track access to the National Pantheon.
FREE with Lisboa Card
The National Pantheon in Lisbon is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 AM until 6 PM. The site is closed on Mondays.
How to get to the National Pantheon
The closest metro station to the National Pantheon is Santa Apolonia. It’s a bit of a steep climb up, but well worth it! If you come by tram, you can ride the famous Tram 28, which stops very close to the Pantheon in Lisbon.
Other things to do in Alfama
Lisbon’s National Pantheon is located on the edge of Alfama, in São Vicente. Every Tuesday and Saturday, you can visit the flea market Feira da Ladra (Thieves Market) here! The fleamarket is next to the Pantheon and nearby the Igreja de São Vicente de Fora.
Further in the heart of Alfama, you can visit the famous Fado Museum, the viewpoint Santa Luzia, and Castle São Jorge. If you’d like to see another church from the inside, you can have a look at Sé de Lisboa, the oldest remaining cathedral in Lisbon.
For the best views, you can visit Miradouro da Graça and the highest of all, Miradouro da Senhora do Monte. Do you want to stay for dinner in the oldest neighbourhood of Lisbon? Then it’s recommended to enjoy a Fado show in Alfama.
Where to stay
Alfama is a lovely neighbourhood to stay in, and there is a wide variety of hotels, B&B’s and apartments. If you decide to book a room in Alfama, you have all these beautiful sights within reach!
Visiting the Pantheon is perfect for a rainy day in Lisbon. But there is more to do! Check out this comprehensive list of things to do when it rains in Lisbon.