São Vicente, the home of big spirits and flea market!

You can have the best view of Sao Vicente from this gorgeous flat in Lisbon

São Vicente, or more accurate, São Vicente de fora, is a parish in the municipality of Lisbon, which is home to the Church of Santa Engracia, which serves as the National Pantheon (mausoleum). It boarders to Alfama – which is the cradle of Lisbon – and is almost as old.

A major milestone date in Lisbon history is Sunday 1 November in 1755 when a combined earthquake, tsunami and fire (!) devastated the city. The fire was due to the fact that as it was a Sunday many candles were lid in churches which caused devastating fires as well. In Baixa and Chiado the devastation was total whereas it was only partial in São Vicente.

São Vicente parish takes it name after the combined church and monastery of same name. It is of rich history and has still an antique touch to it. São Vicente is an intriguing and charming neighbourhood and it contains many important historical attractions as well as many viewpoints (miradouros) of Lisbon.

The three biggest tourists attractions are

Monastery of São Vicente de Fora, Church of Santa Engrácia (Panteao Nacional), and the flea market
known as ‘Feira da Ladra.

The Church or Monastery of São Vicente de Fora; meaning “Monastery of St. Vincent Outside the Walls” is a 17th-century church and monastery in the city of Lisbon, Portugal. It is one of the most important monasteries and mannerist buildings in the country. The monastery also contains the royal pantheon of the Braganza monarchs of Portugal.

The church of the Monastery has a majestic, austere façade that follows the later Renaissance style known as Mannerism. The façade, attributed to Baltazar Álvares, has several niches with statues of saints and is flanked by two towers (a model that would become widespread in Portugal). The lower part of the façade has three arches that lead to the galilee (entrance hall). The floorplan of the church reveals a Latin cross building with a one-aisled nave with lateral chapels. The church is covered by barrel vaulting and has a huge dome over the crossing. The general design of the church interior follows that of the prototypic church of Il Gesù, in Rome.

The present buildings are the result of a reconstruction ordered by King Philip II of Spain, who had become King of Portugal (as Philip I) after a succession crisis in 1580. The church of the monastery was built between 1582 and 1629, while other monastery buildings were finished only in the 18th century. The author of the design of the church is thought to be the Italian Jesuit Filippo Terzi and/or the Spaniard Juan de Herrera. The plans were followed and modified by Leonardo Turriano, Baltazar Álvares, Pedro Nunes Tinoco and João Nunes Tinoco.

The original Monastery of São Vicente de Fora was founded around 1147 by the first Portuguese King, Afonso Henriques, for the Augustinian Order. The Monastery, built in Romanesque style outside the city walls, was one of the most important monastic foundations in mediaeval Portugal. It is dedicated to Saint Vincent of Saragossa, patron saint of Lisbon, whose relics were brought from the Algarve to Lisbon in the 12th century.

The famous portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa also wrote about São Vicente de Fora in his; ´Lisbon – what the tourist should see´. Here is an excerpt;

“Going down Rua da Voz do Operario, our car now stops in front of another majestic temple – the Church of São Vicente de Fora – where there is much to admire. The front in seventeenth century Renaissance style, is simply magnificent, with its niches with images of St. Anthony, St.
Dominic, St. Sebastian, St. Austin, St. Vincent, St. Norbert and S. Bruno. An ample stairway leads up to the church itself.”

The second tourist sight, is the current building of the Church of Santa Engrácia. It substituted previous churches dedicated to a martyr of the city of Braga, Saint Engrácia. The first church dedicated to the Saint was sponsored by Princess Maria, daughter of King Manuel I, around 1568. In 1681, building of the current church began after previous structures collapsed. The author of the new design was João Antunes, royal architect and one of the most important baroque architects of Portugal.

Building work proceeded from 1682 through 1712, when the architect died. King John V lost interest in the church, concentrating his resources in the gigantic Convent of Mafra. The church was left unfinished until the 20th century, so that Obras de Santa Engrácia (lit. Saint Engrácia’s works) has become a Portuguese synonym for long unfinished works. Eventually a dome was added, whereupon the church was reinaugurated in 1966.

In 1916, during the First Portuguese Republic, the Church of Santa Engrácia was turned into a National Pantheon, although it was completed only in 1966, during the government of the Dictator António de Oliveira Salazar.

The personalities buried here include several Presidents of the Republic and fado singer Amália Rodrigues. There are cenotaphs to Luís de Camões, Pedro Álvares Cabral, Afonso de Albuquerque, Nuno Álvares Pereira, Vasco da Gama and Henry the Navigator.

Lastly, the ‘Feira da Ladra’ is a big colorful fleamarket which takes place on saturdays and tuesday next to the Church of Santa Engracia.

You can learn more about the area of Sao Vicente and about the whole of Lisbon


You can stay in our lovely ‘Sao Vicente II’ flat and enjoy one of the best views in Lisbon!

São Vicente home of big spirits and flea market
Ronaldo, portwine, Fernando Pessoa, rent flat lisbon