Religion and history intertwine in Portugal, and one of Lisbon’s oldest buildings is its cathedral; here is Lisbon Cathedral | All you need to know before you go.
Officially the Cathedral of Saint Mary Major / Santa Maria Maior de Lisboa, Lisbon Cathedral is the oldest church in Lisbon and is the seat of the archbishop of Lisbon.
The church is commonly known as Sé de Lisboa. Sé is short for the initials of Sedes Episcopalis, which means “bishop’s seat.”
The Lisbon Cathedral was built in 1147 and has been a national monument since 1910.
How to get to Lisbon Cathedral (Sé de Lisboa)
Address: Largo da Sé, Alfama
GPS: 38.71006694829509, -9.132595131077332
Public Transportation: Tram 28, Tram 12, Bus 37
Lisbon Cathedral Visiting Hours:
November to May, Monday to Saturday 10 AM until 6 PM
June to October Monday to Saturday 9:30 AM to 7 PM. Closed Sundays and Holy Days
Mass is held Wednesday 6:30 pm and Sunday 11:30 am.
What does it cost to visit the Lisbon Cathedral?
Adults pay €4.
Children from 7 – 12 years of age pay €2.
Children 6 and under are free.
The ticket includes a visit to the High Choir, the Treasury, and Museum of the Cathedral, and a walk along the naves of the church.
The last entrance is 45 minutes prior to closing. Proper attire is required. Shorts and short skirts are not allowed.
There is a section reserved for those who come to pray. Admission is not charged for prayer visits.
History of the Lisbon Cathedral
According to the church’s website, the cathedral is “A place where faith and history come together,” Sedelisboa.pt/historia/
Lisbon had a Catholic bishop as early as the fourth century, but Muslim Moors conquered and held the city from the 8th through 12th century.
In 1147 Afonso Henriques and crusaders from northern Europe reconquered Lisbon.
Following the reconquest, Gilbert of Hastings, an English crusader was named bishop of Lisbon, and the present-day cathedral was built on the site of Lisbon’s mosque.
The cathedral was designed by Mestre Roberto and has many similarities with the Old Cathedral of Coimbra, which was built a few years earlier.
St. Anthony was baptized in the baptismal font in 1195.
Several archbishops of Lisbon are buried within, as well as King Afonso IV.
The cathedral resembles a fortress with its crenelated facade and towers, and if necessary it could have been used to defend against invaders.
Following an uprising against the monarchy in 1383, Bishop Dom Martinho Annes was thrown off of one of the church towers.
The Romanesque-style rose window is one of the church’s most notable features.
The stained glass is an image of Jesus and the 12 apostles.
The window was created in the 1930s at the Ricardo Leone factory and was based on the reconstruction of several fragments found after the 1755 earthquake that destroyed much of the church.
“The Gothic chancel, the chapel of the Most Holy, the roof of the nave, the south tower, and the lantern tower collapsed. Between 1761 and 1785, the chapel of the Most Holy was rebuilt. The south tower, the nave’s roof, and the new chancel were built between 1769 and 1771 by the architect Ronaldo dos Santos.” From https://www.sedelisboa.pt/history/?lang=en
At the beginning of the 20th century, architects Augusto Fushimi and Antonio Cauto Abreu supervised renovations of the interior vaults, the nave, the facade, and the exterior battlements.
The church’s gothic cloister was recently excavated and visitors can see Roman, Moorish, and Medieval artifacts. The archaeological dig can be seen in the video above.
The treasury is located on the second floor and holds a variety of relics and jewels, including the relics of St. Vincent of Zaragoza.
Special Events at the Lisbon Cathedral
World Youth Day
Lisbon Cathedral will host the Roman Catholic Church’s World Youth Day Conference in August 2023.
The theme of the conference will be “Mary rose and left in a hurry“ (Luke 1:39).
Pope Francis will meet with young people from all over the world at this conference.
Christmas Eve Midnight mass is celebrated by the cardinal patriarch of Lisbon.
Christmas morning mass is celebrated at 11:30 am by the cardinal patriarch of Lisbon.
Marriages of St. Anthony
St. Anthony grew up in a house down the street, went to school at the cathedral, and was a member of the choir.
As St. Anthony had the reputation of being a matchmaker and councilor of couples, the cathedral and the city council have been holding and paying all the expenses for group weddings for Lisbon’s couples in need since the 1950s. The weddings are celebrated in June.
- Praça do Comércio – largest square in Portugal, former site of the royal palace
- São Jorge Castle – the oldest building in Lisbon, the city developed around it. Read my In and around Castelo de São Jorge – Lisbon’s castle
- Santo António Church – on the site where St. Anthony was born
- Miradouro das Portas do Sol scenic (literally “Golden view”) viewpoint
- Miradouro de Santa Luzia scenic viewpoint
- São Vicente de Fora – Read about this 16th-century monastery in my article Visit São Vicente de Fora in Lisbon: Everything you need to know
- Aljube Museum of the Resistance – housed in a former political prison, tells the story of those who stood up to the dictatorship
- Tram 28 Where does Tram 28 stop? All you need to know about Tram 28
Guided tours of Lisbon Cathedral
Get Your Guide
Get Your Guide offers a Best of Lisbon Walking Tour: Rossio, Chiado, Alfama.
This tour lasts three hours and costs $25.45 per person.
You will pass through most of Lisbon’s historic neighborhoods with your guide, and finish with a tour of the Lisbon Cathedral.
Admission to the cathedral and other sites is not included. A pastel de nata pastry and a short wine tasting are included in the price.
They also offer a private three-hour tour with a local guide for $52.26.
Viator’s eight-hour Lisbon Small-Group Tour: The Most Complete Lisbon City Tour starts costs $63.58.
The tour includes hotel pickup and drop-off in Lisbon. Lunch and admission to sites are not included.
A tour guide and air-conditioned van are provided. On this tour, you will cover medieval and modern Lisbon.
There are eleven stops between Belém and the sixteenth-century Jerónimos Monastery on one side of town to the telecabine gondola lift in twentieth-century Parque das Nações on the other side.
Lodging near Lisbon Cathedral
There are not many boutique hotels or chain hotels within a few hundred yards of the Lisbon Cathedral.
There are, however, several vacation rentals in the neighborhood.
Memmo Alfama Design Hotel
Address: Travessa das Merceeiras 27
GPS: 38.71030130106762, -9.130633129580772
T: 351 210 495 660
The four-star Memmo Alfama Design Hotel is extremely well located in the hillside Alfama neighborhood – a tenth of a mile from the cathedral and two scenic viewpoints. The Fado Museum is .2 mile away, and Castelo São Jorge is .3 of a mile away.
The hotel has a terrace and a pool with views over Alfama and the river.
Rooms start at €114 per night, with breakfast and a walking tour included (if available).
This is Lisbon Hostel
Address: Rua da Costa do Castelo 63
GPS: 38.71173650038258, -9.133715915735847
T: 351 218 014 549
Hostelworld Rating -9.6
This is Lisbon Hostel is located in a 19th-century building. It has an excellent hillside location in the Alfama neighborhood between the castle and the cathedral.
The hostel has a bar a rooftop sundeck.
Breakfast is 3 euros between 8 am and 10:40 am.
Laundry services are available, as well as lockers, and hot showers.
The Lift Boutique Hotel
Address: Rua Aurea 265
GPS: 38.7125520984245, -9.13931708690049
A four-star hotel, The Lift Boutique Hotel is .38 miles downhill from the Lisbon Cathedral.
It is actually located in the Baixa District (the flat downtown). It is only one minute away from the Santa Justa Lift – another of Lisbon’s top attractions. The hotel has very easy access to public transportation.
Air-conditioned, soundproofed rooms start at $94 with breakfast included.
Religion plays an important role in the history and culture of the city.
There are so many beautiful, historic churches in Lisbon that feature stunning architecture. I strongly encourage you to visit the Jerónimos Monastery Is the Jerónimos Monastery worth visiting? , the Convento do Carmo
Lisbon’s Convento do Carmo Ruins | Everything You Need to Know , the National Tile Museum in Lisbon | A Quick Guide , which is housed in the Convento da Madre de Deus, and the São Roque Church in Lisbon – What to know before visiting.
Thank you for reading about the Lisbon Cathedral. If you book a hotel or a tour from a link on this page, I may receive a commission. This should not affect the price you pay. I am not affiliated with any of the other businesses mentioned in this article. Prices may vary over time.