Lisbon Cathedral (Sé), Portugal

Santa Maria Maior de Lisboa, also called Sé de Lisboa, is Lisbon’s Cathedral. It is also Lisbon’s oldest church. Lisbon had a Cathedra since the 4th Century AD. However, Portugal was then overrun by Visigoths and almost immediately afterwards Moorish invaders. The Arabs kept control until the 12th Century. In 1147 King Afonso Henriques and his armies removed the Moors from Portugal – some centuries before they were removed from Spain.

That very year construction began on a Cathedral on the spot previously occupied by the main Mosque of Lisbon. It took something like 200 years to complete this first Cathedral. During the 13th Century additions were made to the Cathedral.

During the 14th and 16th Centuries Lisbon suffered from a series of earthquakes which caused minor damage to the Cathedral, but the Great Earthquake of 1755 destroyed the Gothic main chapel and the Royal Pantheon. The cloisters and much of the rest of the Cathedral were reduced to ruins after the earthquake and the fires which followed it.

The Cathedral was only ever partially rebuilt, never to the same size it had previously been, and it was not until the early 20th Century that it took on the neo-Romanesque appearance it has today.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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