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10 Must-See Churches in Lisbon, Portugal

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When visiting Lisbon, Portugal it would be impossible not to notice the incredible churches. It seems like every time we turn a corner, we see yet another impressive church. Steeped in history and ornate in style, Lisbon churches are fascinating – and they are free to pop inside for a quick visit.

We’ve been the sole visitors in enormous churches, our echoing footsteps the only sound – and we’ve walked into smaller churches where every pew is filled for evening mass. When we visited Lisbon at Christmas, festive decorations adorned the churches, nativity scenes were prominently displayed, and music filled the historic arches at classic holiday Lisbon concerts.


10 Must-See Lisbon Churches

The Best Lisbon, Portugal Itinerary

Our list of the top 10 Churches in Lisbon, Portugal are based on our own opinions formed over several visits. We have included a helpful link to Google Maps for each church, as well as a Lisbon map of all the recommended churches at the end of the post.

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#1 Estrela Basilica (Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Lisbon)

Estrela Basilica and Tram in Lisbon, Portugal

One of the most impressive churches in Lisbon – and seldom visited by tourists – Basilica da Estrela has striking features and a lamentable story. Sitting on a hill, the church dome can be seen from afar and, up close, the double bell towers rise from the ornate façade. Officially called the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, it was the first church ever to be dedicated to the Sacred Heart.

Queen Maria I of Portugal had the church built in gratitude for bearing a son, Jose, who would ascend to the throne. Construction of Estrela Basilica lasted from 1779 until 1790…which was two years after Jose died from smallpox. Queen Maria I died in 1816 and is buried at Estrela Basilica (find her tomb in the right transept).

Altar at Basilica da Estrela in Lisbon, Portugal

Key features of the church include the distinct marble used in the interior (grey, pink and yellow arranged in geometric designs) and the elaborate nativity scene comprising more than 500 figurines. For a small fee, visitors can climb to the domed rooftop for fantastic views. Estrela Basilica is located in the Lapa neighborhood of Estrela on the west side of Lisbon; Map.


#2 Igreja de Santa Catarina (Santa Catarina Church, Lisbon)

Facade of Santa Catarina Church in Lisbon, Portugal

The stoic exterior of Santa Catarina Church does little to encourage passersby to step inside, but those who do are rewarded with a phenomenal sight. The Baroque church’s gilded interior shimmers in golden hues – making it one of the most beautiful churches in Lisbon. Extensive ornamentation and intricate details decorate the altar, organ and ceiling.

Altar at Igreja de Santa Catarina in Lisbon, Portugal

The first Church of St. Catherine was built on the site in the 16th century, but it was destroyed (and rebuilt and destroyed) by the 1755 earthquake and fires. Today, the church is listed as a National Monument.

Top Tip: The church façade is difficult to view on the narrow street; take a few steps down Condessa do Rio for a partial view of the church. Igreja de Santa Catarina is located in the Bairro Alto district; Map.


#3 Igreja Sao Roque Lisbon (Sao Roque Church in Lisbon)

Elaborate side altars at Sao Roque Church in Lisbon, Portugal

São Roque Church is another Lisbon church with a deceivingly bland façade concealing an absolute gem. Plain on the outside, but glittering on the inside, touring this Portuguese church is a must-do in Lisbon!

Of particular interest is the Chapel of St. John the Baptist, which is considered to a be a masterpiece of European art. Next to the Igreja Sao Roque is an adjoining museum that features religious artifacts and information.

Origins of Igreja de Sao Roque date to the early 16th century when Lisbon was suffering from a plague outbreak. A shrine was established to house a holy relic of St. Roch, the patron saint of plague victims, on the site of the plague cemetery.

Baroque Side Chapel at Sao Roque Church in Lisbon, Portugal

When the Jesuits arrived in Portugal in the mid-1500s, they selected the shrine as the site of their new church (one of first Jesuit churches in the world). Insisting on a simple exterior, the Jesuits lavishly decorated the interior in the Baroque style with colorful statues, tiles, woodworks and paintings.

The Church of Sao Roque miraculously survived the 1755 earthquake. Four years later, however, the Jesuits were expelled from the country and the Lisbon Holy House of Mercy took ownership of the church (which it retains to this day). Sao Roque Portugal is located in the Bairro Alto district; Map.


#4 Basilica de Nossa Senhora dos Martires (Our Lady of the Martyrs)

Organ and Ceiling at Basilica de Nossa Senhora dos Martires in Lisbon, Portugal

The parish chapel of Our Lady of the Martyrs was built in 1147 to commemorate the soldiers who died defending the Christian faith in the Siege of Lisbon during the Reconquista. Destroyed in the 1755 earthquake, the Basilica of Our Lady of the Martyrs was rebuilt in the Baroque style in 1784.

Simple Nativity Scene at Our Lady of the Martyrs Church in Lisbon, Portugal

The most stunning feature is the frescoes in the ceiling that depict the victorious battle against the Moors in 1147. Unlike other Lisbon churches, green is the dominate color in the ornate (yet somehow understated) interior. This unique style makes it one of the best churches in Lisbon. The Basilica dos Martires is located in the Chiado district; Map.


#5 Igreja de Sao Domingos (Santo Domingo Church, Lisbon)

Lit Candles at Virgin Mary Statue in Igreja de Sao Domingos in Lisbon, Portugal

Perhaps the most intriguing Lisbon old town church, Santo Domingo (also spelled Saint Dominic) has a storied past and scarred remains. Built in 1241, the church was the site of royal religious celebrations, like weddings and christenings. However, Sao Domingos also hosted darker occasions, such as the Lisbon Massacre and execution of a Jesuit missionary.

Through the years, nature has taken a toll on Santo Domingo. The church was heavily damaged by the 1531 earthquake, completely ruined in the 1755 earthquake and ravaged by fire in 1959.

Interior of Santo Domingo Church in Lisbon, Portugal

The gutted church was renovated and reopened in 1994. Uncharacteristic of most restorations, the church still bears witness to the fire and the smell of soot lingers in the air. The damaged interior is both eerily haunting and astoundingly beautiful. Santo Domingo Church is located in the Baixa district; Map.


#6 Nossa Senhora da Conceicao Velha (Our Lady of the Conception, Lisbon)

Manuline Portico at Nossa Senhora da Conceicao Velha in Lisbon, Portugal

Nearly blending into the flanking buildings, Our Lady of the Conception is recognizable from the street for its main feature: the ornate Manueline portal. The elaborately decorated double-arched doorway, which survived the 1755 earthquake, welcomes visitors into a single-nave, 3-story interior.

Inside, eyes are naturally drawn to the brightly-lit altar and presbytery residing beneath a rising Roman arch. Overhead, the vaulted ceiling is painted with a portrayal of The Triumph of Our Lady of the Conception, which shows God blessing the Virgin Mary while an angel kills a dragon.

Ornate Altar at Nossa Senhora da Conceicao Velha in Lisbon, Portugal

The history of Nossa Senhora da Conceicao Velha is a bit complicated. Ownership has changed hands multiple times since it was founded in 1498. Reconstruction and upkeep have been a constant for the church. The historic church reigns as one of the few remaining buildings designed in the Manueline style (Portuguese Late Gothic). Nossa Senhora da Conceicao Velha is in the Old City Center of Lisbon; Map.


#7 Se Cathedral (Lisbon Cathedral)

Lisbon Cathedral in Lisbon, Portugal

Built for the bishop on the site of a former mosque in 1147 (after the Siege of Lisbon victory), the Se Cathedral Lisbon is one of the most famous churches in Portugal and also ranks as the oldest church in Lisbon.

Classified a National Monument in 1910, the church has seen significant changes through the centuries. Designed (and renovated) using various architectural styles – including Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque – Se Lisbon Cathedral resembles an imposing fortress.

The Cathedral Se Lisbon lacks an expansive fronting square (instead, tram tracks lead straight to the front door and veer to the left around the building). Wedged into a small space, it’s difficult to appreciate the true size of the church. The best view is from the nearby tram stop, where there is a better vantage point of the twin bell towers and slightly-off-center Rose Window.

The decorated Main Altar at Se Cathedral in Lisbon, Portugal

The dark interior of the Cathedral is rather plain in comparison to other Lisbon churches. Although a bit bleak, the highlights are the altar and artwork.

For a small fee, visitors are allowed to enter the cloister and treasury. In the adjacent cloister, excavated ruins of Roman, Arabic and Medieval civilizations are displayed. The treasury is also located inside the church and displays robes, jewels and other important relics.

Lisbon Cathedral Mass Times are at 11:30am and 7:00pm on Sunday and at 6:30pm on Tuesday and Saturday. The Se Cathedral is located in Alfama Lisbon; Map.


#8 Santo Antonio de Lisboa (Santo Antonio Church Lisbon)

Colorful Altar, Church of Saint Anthony of Lisbon, Portugal

Built in the mid-1700s, Igreja de Santo Antonio de Lisboa is dedicated to St. Anthony of Padua. The church, which sits in the shadow of the Lisbon Cathedral, marks the site where Saint Anthony was born in 1195. In fact, St. Anthony was baptized in the Se Cathedral; the baptismal font used in his baptism is still displayed in the Cathedral (first chapel on the left).

The basement crypt, Church of Saint Anthony of Lisbon, Portugal

The small Baroque-style Santo Antonio Church features the life and work of St. Anthony depicted by statues and paintings. An underground chapel marks the exact spot where he was born.

Statue of Saint Anthony in the courtyard, Church of Saint Anthony of Lisbon, Portugal

Outside, visitors lob coins at a statue of St. Anthony in an attempt to land one on his book. Those successful are said to be lucky in love (because St. Anthony is the Patron Saint of Lovers). The Saint Anthony Church is located in the Alfama district; Map.


#9 Igreja da Graca Lisbon (Graca Church Lisbon)

Ornate interior of Igreja da Graca in Lisbon, Portugal

Opening onto one of our favorite Lisbon Viewpoints, the hilltop Graca Church ranks as one of the oldest churches in the city. Built in the 13th-century (and rebuilt in the Baroque style after the 1755 earthquake), the church features a double façade and bell tower. The attached convent, which was the head of Portugal’s Order of Saint Augustine from 1291 until 1834, has been converted into military barracks.

Choir performs at a concert in Igreja da Graca in Lisbon, Portugal

The Graca Church, which is a National Monument, features a collection of historic tiles and artwork. Tucked into the corner is the Senhor dos Passos sculpture. During Lent, the sculpture is paraded through the city streets from Sao Roque back to Igreja da Graca – a tradition that began in 1587. The Graca Church is located in the Graca neighborhood; Map.


#10 Sao Vicente de Fora (St. Vincent Lisbon)

Facade of Sao Vicente de Fora in Lisbon, Portugal

Established in 1147 as a monastery for the Augustinian Order, the Sao Vicente de Fora Church was built between 1582 and 1629 in the Mannerist style. The St. Vincent Church features two soaring towers and a façade of arches and statues. Inside, an ornamental canopy sits over the altar that is flanked by enormous statues. The massive organ is featured in a unique place beyond the altar.

Christmas Concert at Sao Vicente de Fora in Lisbon, Portugal

The accompanying Sao Vicente de Fora museum displays a large collection of artworks, including paintings, sculptures and artifacts. The most impressive exhibits are the displays of Azulejo Tiles. Museum visitors are also allowed access to the rooftop, which provides stunning views of Lisbon. Sao Vicente de Fora is in the Alfama District; Map

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Map of Lisbon Churches

Use this link to Google Maps for a Self-Guided 3.5-mile Lisbon Churches Walking Tour. 

Map of Lisbon Churches by JetSettingFools.com


More Churches to Visit in Lisbon, Portugal

National Pantheon in Lisbon, Portugal

Listed above are our 10 Favorite Lisbon, Portugal churches, but there are plenty more to see! Here are a few more unique churches to add to your list. 


Church of Santa Engrácia (National Pantheon)

The Santa Engracia Church in Lisbon took nearly 300 years to complete…and before it was even finished, it was converted to the National Pantheon. Still, it’s a must-see in the city. The rooftop offers one of the Best Views in Lisbon!


Fatima Church Lisbon

Officially Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Rosario de Fatima, the Fatima Church in Lisbon is a modern, art deco church that contrasts sharply with the many 18th-century Baroque churches in the city.


St. George’s Church Lisbon

Built in 1889 for the British Anglican population, St. George Church in Lisbon has an adjoining cemetery with 31 Commonwealth War Graves.


St. Miguel Church

Igreja de São Miguel is tucked into the Alfama district and – with it’s plain white façade – it often goes unnoticed by tourists. However, inside the church is decorated in stunning gilded carvings and paintings from the 17th century. Unfortunately, the only time tourists can get a peek inside is when the church is hosts mass. 


Jeronimos Church Lisbon

The Jeronimos Monastery in Belem is the best-preserved example of Manueline architecture. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Jerónimos Monastery is one of the top attractions in Belem. 


Understanding Lisbon Religion

Most of the churches in Lisbon, Portugal are Catholic; Catholicism is the main religion in Portugal. Although a few buildings have been transformed into Lisbon monuments, most of the Catholic churches in Lisbon still hold masses and host other religious functions.


Tips for Visiting Lisbon Churches

Before visiting the churches of Lisbon, there a few things visitors should know. 

First, be mindful to dress appropriately. When you enter a church, remove your hat and keep your voice low. It is imperative to be respectful during masses.

Some of the churches allow photography, but check before you start taking pictures (there should be a sign at the door). If you are uncertain of proper etiquette, ask someone – they will be happy to help! 


Travel Tips for a Trip to Lisbon, Portugal

Ride Tram 25, Lisbon, Portugal

Now for a few of our personal travel tips for visiting Lisbon that will make it easier for you to plan your vacation to Portugal. 


Planning a Trip to Lisbon

Although the churches in Lisbon are spectacular, there is a lot more to see and do on a complete Portugal Itinerary!

Our outlined 3 Days in Lisbon Itinerary shows you how to fit prime sights into just a few days. You can also use our travel guides to some of the top attractions. 

Also going to Porto? We love Porto and share our advice for what to see, do and eat in our Best Porto Itinerary.

If you are traveling from abroad, start with our Top Tips for Planning a European Vacation. We share all the need-to-know details for your trip!

As you make your preparations, stay organized with our Printable Travel Planner, so you can keep on top of all the details!

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Where To Stay in Lisbon, Portugal

During our trips to Lisbon, we have stayed in Airbnb Apartments in the Alfama and Lapa neighborhoods. We have also stayed in the posh Altis Hotel and Spa in Belem. 

We usually prefer apartments – for the extra space and kitchen – but loved our stay at Altis! However, Altis is located in Belem.

Travelers who would rather stay in the city center have many options for Lisbon hotels. Check out these top-rated hotels (based on guest reviews!) for your upcoming trip: TURIM Marques HotelMy Story Hotel RossioPortugal Boutique Hotel.

On a budget? Check out one of the popular Lisbon Hostels, like Hostel 15

Looking for a Lisbon Hotel or Hostel? Start your search on Booking.com – like we do – but first, use our guide to Finding the Best Hotels at the Best Rates


Packing for your Trip to Lisbon, Portugal

Now that you are ready to go to Lisbon, Portugal, it’s time to start packing! There are a few things you will need for your Lisbon trip, and you can find all of our advice on our Travel Packing Tips page. Be sure to grab your Free Packing Checklist, too!


Comfortable Shoes

Lightweight and comfortable travel shoes are a necessity in Lisbon – especially if you are trekking across the city to see all the great churches! I like to wear comfortable and versatile shoes – like these from Columbia. Kris prefers wearing these shoes by Merrell.


Travel Camera

We’re certain you’ll be snapping tons of photos during your Portugal trip. Rather than relying on your mobile phone to capture the sights, upgrade to an actual camera for higher quality photos.

We always travel with a Canon Rebel (which takes amazing photos, comes with heaps of accessories and is a great budget camera for travelers).


Lisbon Map and Guidebook

It’s easy to get turned around or lost in any new city! You can use our link to Google Maps for walking directions to the Lisbon churches, but it’s always a good idea to have a paper map, too. Be sure to pack a good city map and/or guidebook prior to arriving.


Day Pack

Whether you travel with a backpack or a suitcase, you’ll also want a great day bag to pack all your everyday travel essentials in! 


Portugal Travel Insurance

If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip, consider traveling protected with World Nomads.


Start planning your trip to Portugal! Search for the lowest airfares, the best accommodations and fun things to do…then start packing!  Want more travel planning tips? Head over to our Travel Planning Page for more information and tips on traveling – and for country-specific information, take a look at our Travel Guides Page!


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14 thoughts on “10 Must-See Churches in Lisbon, Portugal

  1. Pingback: 3 Days in Lisbon, Portugal - Sojourns with Shawna

  2. Cindy

    Thank you for the church tour. What religion do you follow if any? Loved the nativity scene in #4 & Lisbon Cathedral exterior resembles Notre Dame in Paris. Hope the holidays aren’t as commercial as they are here. Merry Christmas!

    • Hi Cindy ~ I am Catholic and I love old, European churches. The churches in Lisbon are so beautiful ~ we said the same thing about the Lisbon Cathedral being similar to Notre Dame. It’s difficult to tell how commercial the holidays are here, since we are slightly isolated (we don’t watch TV, language barrier, not a big group of friends to ask). But, my impression is that it’s a mix. There are Santa decorations, but also baby Jesus banners. There is shopping for presents, but the present giving (at least in Lisbon) doesn’t happen until January 6, keeping Christmas (possibly) a little more about religion. Both church concerts we attended were in enormous churches and were standing room only. We’ll be in Barcelona for Christmas, so it might be different there. 🙂 Merry Christmas!

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