The earthquake and the seaquake of 1755

Wed, 31.10.2018

Learning more about the event that marked Lisbon forever

On the last tour on the 31st of October our Portuguese language school made a recreation of the disaster of 1755. On the 1st of November of 1755, All Saints Day, Lisbon was surprised by a huge catastrophe. 263 years ago an earthquake on Richter scale 9, a seaquake and many fires that lasted 5 days destroyed Lisbon. The fires were spread so quickly because all the churches in Lisbon had candles lit to celebrate All Saints day.

Our history teacher Indira Leão accompanied us during the tour. Despite the rainy afternoon that we had, we started in Praça do Comércio. Here, Indira told us that the tragedy destroyed more than 30 churches and 40 palaces in Lisbon. The city had 200 000 people and it is estimated that between 20 000 to 50 000 people died.

The earthquake of 1755 was discussed by many intellectuals of the Enlightenment as Voltaire or Rousseau. In his masterpiece Candide or the Optimistic, Voltaire criticized the Portuguese population that blamed the Jews for the disaster.

The king Joseph I choose Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, Maquis of Pombal to be responsible of the reconstruction of Lisbon. The engineers and architects Eugénio dos Santos, Carlos Mardel and Manuel da Maia, gave a modern appearance to the city. It was implemented the first anti seismic system in all Europe called Gaiola Pombalina, made with wood. The Baixa Pombalina is the result of these urbanistic and reconstruction plans of the city.

Due to rain, we left Praça do Comércio and went to a cozy bakery in Largo Camões. There, Indira showed us a video about the recreation of the disaster that you can find here.

Below you can check out our fantastic photos of that afternoon:


The disaster that marked Lisbon forever

Did you know that on the 1st of November of 1755 Lisbon was affected by a huge disaster? And that the earthquake, the seaquake and the fires that lasted for five days killed almost a half of the Lisbon’s population?

You’ll find out the answers to these and more questions on our unmissable tour on the 31st of October. Indira Leão, our history teacher, will make the recreation of this disaster.

We’ll start in Terreiro do Paço, the most affected area. Here, many treasures were lost forever. The Opera house, inaugurated months before the catastrophe, the royal library and palace were turned into ashes. The earthquake scared most of the people that were in the mass, celebrating All Saints’ Day. The people ran to Terreiro do Paço to avoid being crushed by the buildings that were falling. Suddenly, a huge hall of water swallowed buildings and people. According to some testimonials, the seaquake reached Rossio.

In the Santíssimo Sacramento’s church all the people died smashed by the roof that fell. Indira has an interesting story to tell about this place. So, one more reason to come with us!

Then, we’ll visit the Carmo’s Convent. It was built in the 14th, and became one of the most important churches in the city. During the earthquake, the roof fell down and it was decided to leave it like that in memory of the victims.

After the disaster, the secretary of the king, the Marquis of Pombal, was the responsible for the reconstruction of the city.

After the tour we’ll gather at a nice esplanade and make new friends!

Join us on this tour and visit our website and take a look at our upcoming events.