The Great Earthquake of 1755

Tue, 10.09.2019

Going back to the day when Lisbon trembled

On the last 10th of September, our Portuguese language school organized a walking tour about the Great Earthquake of 1755.

Indira Leão, our history teacher, accompanied us along the tour. We started in Praça do Comércio, the most destroyed area in the city. Around 9.30am on the 1st of November of 1755, Hallowmas, people felt the earth trembling. The buildings were falling, and the ones who could escape went to Praça do Comércio, where were less buildings. However, minutes after a Tsunami with about 10 meters high swallowed the city. Some records defend that the wave reached Rossio. Moreover, the candles spread in all the churches in Lisbon fell and provoked fires that lasted 5 days.

At the time, Lisbon had around 200.000 people. Between 10.000 to 90.000 people died. In Morocco 10.000 people died with the catastrophe. The Earthquake was also felt in Finland. Four men were central to the reconstruction of Lisbon: the Marquis of Pombal, the engineer Eugénio dos Santos and the architects Carlos Mardel and Manuel da Maia.

Then, we went to Praça da Figueira. Here, before the Great Earthquake of 1755 it was located the Hospital Real de Todos os Santos. It was the most important in Europe to cure tropical diseases. In this square were also sentenced to death by hanging the thieves.

In way to Largo do Carmo, we sttoped in Igreja do Santíssimo Sacramento. About 15 years ago, the church had reconstructions and the workers found the skeleton of a man. Presumably, it was a victim of the disaster.

We ended in Convento do Carmo. The ruined convent remained without construction works to honour the memory of the people that died here.

After the walking tour, we went to a cosy coffee shop!


Lisbon after the Great Earthquake of 1755

The Great Earthquake of 1755 marked Lisbon forever. In order to understand the Lisbon of today we have to know what happen in the past. The development of the Portuguese capital is partly due to the Great Earthquake of 1755. Therefore, our next walking tour on the 10th of September will be about the Great Earthquake of 1755.

Indira Leão, our history teacher will help us to recreate the most tragic episode of Lisbon’s History. On the 1st of November of 1755, Hallowmas, at 9.30 am Lisbon trembled. A few minutes after a tsunami caused waves between 10 and 15 meters high. In addition, there were fires that lasted for 5 days and destroyed what was left.

We’ll start at Praça do Comércio. Before the Great Earthquake this square was called Terreiro do Paço. It was the most affected area of Lisbon. Here, important buildings as the Royal Palace or the Royal Library turned into ruins. In that day, the Portuguese king D. José I was in Ajuda and survived to the disaster.

Then, we’ll go to Igreja do Santíssimo Sacramento. This church of the 17th century destroyed by the Great Earthquake, was rebuilt between 1772 and 1807. The project of the architect Remigio Francisco de Abreu, kept the plan of the early church. This building hides a curious history of the earthquake that Indira will reveal to us.

Our last stop will be at Convento do Carmo. It was a former convent of the Order of Carmelites of the Old Observance. Until today, its ruins witness the destruction of that day.

After the walking tour, we’ll go to a nice terrace to drink and get along with the students.

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