The Cathedral of Lisbon, also known as the church of Santa Maria Maior, was built in 1150, ordered by King Afonso Henriques, after three years of having successfully conquered the city.
It is classified as a national heritage and one of the oldest medieval monuments of Lisbon (2nd half of the 12th century), during the Middle Ages, the Cathedral of Lisbon functioned as a place of religious, civic and cultural activity.
After 1755 the Cathedral served as a seat for the diocese, since the earthquake caused a great fire, and destroyed much of the southern tower of the facade, the bell tower, and the carvings on the outside of the temple. In 1777 a reconstruction of the Cathedral, and later, in 1940, the vault of cradle identical to the original one was rebuilt.
There are two observable fundamental constructive phases: a Romanesque and a gothic phase. The scheme of its construction, which ran from 1150 to the first years of the thirteenth century, were very similar to the Cathedral of Coimbra, which consisted of three naves, a triphorium, a protruding transept and a tripartite headboard. Nevertheless, the reconstruction was not always identical to the initial characteristics and underwent important transformations.
A first plant had a Romanesque composition in the head until the century XIV, with apse and two minor and parallel lateral aphids, with semicircular outer contour. Later, between 1279 and 1325, it is represented essentially by the cloister and its galleries, and the fantastic details of the low reliefs in the capitals are to be noted.
The period of bigger transformations was that of 1325 to 1357 with a new headboard construction, to replace a first one that was supposedly completed or heavily damaged by the 1344 earthquake.
New works and achievements were made in the chancel during the reign of King John I, but the interior of the chancel lost much of its Gothic appearance due to its use during the Baroque and Neoclassical period, introduced after the 1755 earthquake. It maintains its primitive aspect intact. The headboard presents great structural lightness and inwardly we can see the archaizing characteristics of the Gothic architecture. The arches of the artisan vaults of the ambulatory and the chapels are examples of this, containing capitals with vegetal animals, typical of that time.
In the Lisbon Cathedral, the existing three organs are from different periods of the history of its existence and case of treasures, the treasure of the Sé is acceded by the south tower, being at the top of the staircase, to the right. It houses a varied collection of silverware, such as a sixteenth-century cross, ecclesiastical costumes, statuary, illuminated manuscripts and relics associated with St. Vincent.
Being easy to get to and sought after by tourists, do not forget to visit one of the most cherished cathedrals Lisbon has to offer – between 9am – 7pm and the Cloister between 10am – 6pm (Summer) and 10am – 5pm (Winter).