Visiting Lisbon's Oldest Church, Sé De Lisboa

Largo da Sé, 1100-585 Lisboa, Portugal
Sé de Lisboa

Lisbon Cathedral, or just the Sé, is the oldest church in the Portuguese capital, and for that alone, it is worth seeing. Although it is not the most beautiful cathedral in Europe, the Sé is an integral part of the city's history – it was built on the site of an old mosque when the crusaders and Portugal's first king, Afonso Henriques, freed Lisbon from the Moors in the middle of the 12th century.

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The magnificent cathedral has been watching the Lisboners and their daily lives for centuries. Due to numerous earthquakes and renovations, it now blends Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque architectural styles. From the outside, with its defense towers and battlements, the Sé looks like a castle, but the large rose window and bells highlight its true purpose.

My half-day stroll through Lisbon's hilly streets led me to the cathedral, a perfect location to unwind from traffic and crowds and enjoy the ancient interior and stylish details; it felt like stepping back in time – nearly 900 years! The light from the stained glass windows played beautifully in the dark space, making everything inside appear magical. The artificial yellow-orange lighting was also impressive.

Lisbon Cathedral in Photos

Romanesque façade
Main façade from the southwest

Romanesque Interior

Romanesque Triforium
A Romanesque triforium gallery

Baroque Chancel
Chancel, with a painted panel depicting the "Assumption of the Virgin" by José Inácio Sampaio (1825)

Baroque Chapel
Baroque-style Blessed Sacrament Chapel

Baroque Chapel Organ
One of the chancel's organs

Rose Window
High Choir, with a rose window

Stained Glass
Two stained-glass windows representing the patrons of Lisbon, Saint Vincent, and Saint Anthony

Baroque & Romanesque Mix
A beautiful blend of 18th-century Baroque (chancel ceiling) and 12th-century Romanesque (transept) architectural styles

Lisbon Cathedral Architecture

The Lisbon Cathedral's original Romanesque design was similar to that of the Sé in Coimbra, also built in the 12th century. Master Robert, of Norman origin, was its first architect.


The façade of the cathedral is Romanesque in style. Two twin bell towers with crenelated crowns flank it. With a deep splay, a large circular rose window crowns the portal on the façade. A Gothic cloister stands to the east of the cathedral. The Sacristy, with a Baroque-style interior from the 17th century, adjoins the south side.


The interior of the building is Latin cross-style, quite dark, with three naves, a transept, and an ambulatory surrounding the chancel. Illuminated by a series of windows in the upper area, the Gothic ambulatory corridor has a ribbed vault. The chancel is Baroque in style; it has two organs, one from 1780 and the other from the 1960s. The original Romanesque vaults remain in the transept area.

How to Get to the Lisbon Cathedral

The cathedral stands in thе оldеst distriсt оf thе сity, Аlfаmа. €5 per person for admission; the ticket includes access to the High Choir and the Cathedral's Treasury Museum. Except for Sundays and Holy Days, open daily from 9:30 (10:00) a.m. to 6:00 (7:00) p.m.

Bus (line 737) stop: Limoeiro
Tram (lines 12E, 28E) stop: Limoeiro
Metro (lines Az, Vd) station: Baixa-Chiado

Official website: Sé de Lisboa

Where to Stay in Lisbon

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Have any questions about visiting the Sé? Planning a trip to Lisbon? What about other suggestions? Feel free to leave a comment below.


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