The Carmo Convent sits high on one of the 7 hills of Lisbon. Anyone wandering the downtown Rossio area of Lisbon will notice the large Gothic arches of the Convent rise high above the buildings around it making it one of the most recognisable of Lisbon monuments. As they rise above the buildings they quickly catch your eye as you scan the surrounds This is what drew us to explore the convent. I had never seen anything like it before. Usually, this type of Gothic architecture is hidden under a roof not exposed for all to see.
History of the Carmo Convent
Officially titled The Convent of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, The convent is located in Largo Do Carmo Lisboa (Lisbon). The Convent was founded in 1389. In 1407 the Presbytery and apses of the Convent Church were finished. By 1551, the Convent sheltered 70 clergy and 10 servants all year around servicing the needs of the people of Lisbon/
Where do we stay in Lisbon?
Lisbon Historic Centre Apartments is our choice of accommodation in Lisbon. We have stayed here twice in these spacious basic fully self-contained apartments, The apartments are 200 meters from Rossio square and 50 meters from Largo Do Carmo square and the Cramo Convent. We loved our stay at Lisbon Historic Centre Apartments so much that we have stayed twice. Roomy, comfortable and in an amazing location. Fully self-contained for cooking with clothes washing facilities available.
For booking information please click HERE.
The earthquake of 1755 and the subsequent tsunami that practically destroyed the downtown Lisbon area did not spare the Carmo Convent and Church. The earthquake caused major damage to the Gothic structure and library at the Convent containing a reported 5000 plus books was lost.
While most places would be restored or knocked down it was decided to keep the ruins of the Carmo Church and convent as they were, as a reminder of what happened. This really brings home the enormity of what happened to the city of Lisbon on that day and just how much it affected the entire city with over 75,000 people killed. The magnitude 9 earthquake struck Lisbon sometime before 10 am on a Saturday morning, levelling most of the city. The quake was followed by a massive tsunami and fires which destroyed the remaining buildings.
Visit the Carmo Archaeological Museum
Today this Largo Do Carmo icon is one of the most popular Lisbon Museums. Entry to the Carmo convent Lisbon museum is through a set of big heavy doors in Largo Do Carmo square. Once you have entered through the doors that will lead you to the ticket booth. When you first walk into the building it certainly has the wow factor. I found myself standing just staring at this amazing Gothic design of the building. The Arches seemed to rise out from all places in the building with the perfect blue sky as its backdrop. There are steps to walk down but they are also used to sit and ponder. Ponder what was lost on that fateful day in 1755, ponder how amazing the Carmo Convent still is today. and ponder what it would have looked like before it was destroyed.
What is left is an adventure to explore. The walls of the Cormo Convent are adorned with etching and sculptures. These in themselves were well worth taking your time to view. It’s a strange experience as you wander the church with no roof and grass growing on the floor as the sounds of the city flow in through the roof.
I was also surprised at how well some of the pieces they had out in the open air had stayed so preserved. As you make your way down to the back of the church where the naive used to be, there is now a museum.
Meet the Mummies of Carmo Museum
The museum is a unique array of artefacts that have been collected over the years. They have been assembled together in what used to be the main altar of the building. Artefacts from prehistoric time to modern day are on display. For my kids, the main attraction was the two South American mummies and some shrunken heads that are well preserved, behind glass, on display for all to see. It was one of those things for small kids, they were both interested, intrigued and scared by the display all at the same time. Our eldest daughter was intrigued by the mummies but this was just a little too much for our youngest. One of the ladies behind the desk noticed me trying to calm Marley and answer her questions about the mummies..
The museum attendant came over and although her English was not great reassured Marley enough to go and sit near the small shop so I could see the rest of the artefacts that were there. The museum also houses some tombs most notably the largest one is of King Ferdinand I. The most prominent ancient find on display is a Roman tomb with carvings depicting the Muses. You could spend plenty of time looking at the beautifully carved scenes. Sculptures, engraving and coins from the 13th century and bust of King D. Afonso Henriques were interesting to look at. The museum also hosts travelling exhibitions from time to time.
Carmo Convent is a Lisbon Monument & well worth a visit
We spent around 30-45 minutes in the Carmo Convent and Museum looking around. You exit out a side door that places you right next to the top of the Santa Justa Lift. This provides you with some amazing views over Lisbon. The adjacent Square Largo Do Carmo is full of Restaurants and bars with plenty of outdoor seating. It is a great place to grab a bite to eat or just have a rest after exploring this amazing Lisbon museum.
Our whole family found something interesting in the Convento Do Carmo Lisboa. It is still a place the girls talk about when we are chatting about Lisbon. Carmo Convent along with The Castles of Sintra and Belem are certainly places not to be missed in Lisbon
Museu do Carmo entry fee:
- Adults 4,00€
- Student 3,00€ (Full-time with ID)
- Senior* 3,00€ (65 and over with ID)
- Lisbon Card* 3,20€
- Children (0-14)*Free
Carmo Convent hours of opening
Monday to Saturday:
October to May: 10h00 – 18h00
June to September: 10h00 – 19h00
Closed on Sundays, January 1, May 1 and December 25.
Getting to Lisbon:
- Lisbon is the capital and biggest city in Portugal.
- Humberto Delgado Airport is located 7km from Lisbon City Centre
- It is the 24th largest airport in Europe in terms of passenger volume, having served 22.4 million passengers in 2016
- Lisbon Airport is served by 121 destinations with 47 airlines
- Lisboa is serviced by many international airlines and budget carriers.The airport is a hub for TAP Portugal. Lisbon is a focus city for easyJet, Ryanair, Vueling and Azores Airlines. You can check the prices of international flights to Portugal with cheapOair. Domestic flights can be booked with Expedia
- The airport and city are connected by the metro. Aeroporto Saldanha line takes approximately 20 minutes to reach downtown Lisbon
- The Aerobuses is accommodating for travelling with large luggage. The departures are available at Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 between 7:30 and 23:00 daily, and connect the airport with a number of major destinations in the downtown area. Information and bookings available here.
- Santa Apolonia and Lisbon Oriente are the two major trains station for domestic and international arrivals by train
- Check your trains prices here.
- Most international buses arrive at Lisbon’s Estação do Oriente bus station. Check your bus prices here.
- You can book an airport transfer with Suntransfers who we have personally used on many occasions.
- You can book a rental car with AutoEurope and have it waiting for you at Lisbon Airport.
Getting around Lisbon:
- Lisbon features an extensive public transport network, comprising both underground and surface means of getting around. The metros, buses and trams of Lisbon is one of the most cost-efficient and flexible manners of discovering the city
- Flat fare on the trams (streetcars) is now 2,85 Euros with the object being to make more users buy pre-pay passes. A single ticket on the metro is €1.90 without a rechargeable card, €1,40 with. There are a variety of passes available which reduce those costs considerably.
- Children under the age of 4 travel free of charge on the Metro, as long as they are accompanied by an adult.
- The popular Lisbon Hop on hop off bus is a great option for tourists wanting to see the main sights of Berlin. This tourist bus has 2 different routes that travel the sights of city the on a loop basis. For more information Look here!
- The Lisbon Card offers tree public transport and entries to major Lisbon sights.
Where to stay in Lisbon:
- Lisbon has accommodation options for every budget from Hostels, to apartments and hotels rooms.
- Hostels in Lisbon can start from as little as 15 euro’s a night for a shared dorm room.
- You can search Airbnb for their Berlin accommodation offerings. If you have never used Airbnb before get yourself $50 credit by signing and booking a stay right HERE.
- Hotels in Lisbon generally start from around $70 a night for a double room and increase incrementally as the luxury rating rises towards 5 stars. Google states that 3-star averaging $92, 5-star averaging $226 for a night stay.
- You can compare and book your stay on Agoda, Hotels.com, and Priceline
( All coloured text in the Getting to Lisbon, Getting around Lisbon and Where to stay in Lisbon links to the pages mentioned for your information and booking convenience. We at Wyld Family Travel will make a small commission from any bookings you make. This money goes into maintaining our website. )
We hope you enjoyed this article from Wyld Family Travel. We have many posts about Lisbon as its one of our favourite cities. Please find below 2 more Lisbon stories for your reading enjoyment.