Palaces and Convents of Bairro Alto

Wed, 15.05.2019

Exploring some marvellous convents and palaces of Bairro Alto

On the 15th of May, our Portuguese language school organized a walking tour about the Palaces and Convents of Bairro Alto.

Our history teacher, Indira Leão, guided us during this sunny afternoon. We started at Biblioteca Camões. Before being a library in 1981, it was the Palácio Valada-Azambuja due to the union of those two important families. It was originally built in the 15th century. It was reconstructed after the Great Earthquake of 1755. In 1791, the Marquis of Pombal lived here.

We walked through Rua da Misericórdia until Igreja de São Roque. In 1506, it was a small church dedicated to Saint Roque, protector of the plague’s victims. In 1553, the Jesuits start to control this church. The settlement of the Jesuits will be very important to the development of Bairro Alto.

In Convento de São Pedro de Alcântara, we had the opportunity to see inside the church the beautiful tiles. The convent was founded in the 17th century by the 1st Marquis of Marialva to pay a promise. Before the battle of Montes Claros between Portugal and Spain, the Marquis of Marialva promised to build a convent if Portugal won.  The convent was also destroyed with the Great Earthquake of 1755. In 2014, the convent was opened to the public.

We ended in Palácio Chiado. This glamourous palace was the ancient Palácio Quintela buil in the 17th century. In 1726, the palace was destroyed in a fire and what was left of the building was destroyed with the Great Earthquake. Since 2016, it’s a fancy restaurant and bar.

After the walking tour we went with our students to the bar Pensão Amor. This space was once a brothel. We loved its burlesque decoration!

You can look at our photos:


The noble and religious side of the neighbourhood

Bairro Alto is known for its nightlife. It’s a mandatory stop to the people that want to enjoy the nightlife in Lisbon. However, Bairro Alto has several palaces and convents that are waiting to be discovered. They tell us the noble and religious facet of the neighbourhood that began in the 16th century. Join us to explore another side of this historical neighbourhood on the 15th of May!

With the Portuguese overseas expansion and the passage of the royal palace to Praça do Comércio, D. Manuel I planned the construction of Bairro Alto. The merchants, the Jesuits and the nobles settled here to be closer to the king who lived in Praça do Comércio.

Our history teacher, Indira Leão, will show us some of the palaces and convents that marked the History of Bairro Alto.

We’ll start in the Palácio Valada-Azambuja. It was reconstructed after the Great Earthquake of 1755 and nowadays it’s known as the Biblioteca Camões.

The Palácio Chiado was erected in 1781. The Palace belonged to the family Quintela since 1777. With the French invasions, the general Junot established his official residence in this palace.

The Igreja de São Roque was built in the 16th century in honour to Saint Roque, protector of the black plague patients. In 1553, the Jesuits took possession of this church.

Our final stop will be the Convento de São Pedro de Alcântara. It was founded in the 17th century for the Franciscans. With the earthquake of 1755, the convent was almost completely destroyed, and its reconstruction began in 1783. The space has tiles of century XVIII allusive to the life of São Pedro de Alcântara.

We’ll finish our walking tour in a nice esplanade in Príncipe Real.

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