To see evidence of the damage inflicted upon Lisbon by the destructive earthquake of 1755, the restored medieval Carmo Convent stands next to the ruins of its great barn of a Gothic church. It was founded in 1389 for the Carmelite order by the great military leader Álvares Pereira, who played a large part in securing Portugal’s independence from Spain before joining the convent himself in 1423.
Thanks to its obliteration in the earthquake, the convent’s library of thousands of rare books and manuscripts was lost; while that was rebuilt and became the HQ of Lisbon’s Municipal Guard (Guarda Republicana), the church has never been fully rebuilt. It was used as a wood storage facility before being turned into a small archaeological museum (the Museu Arqueologico do Carmo) in 1864. Today its nave still stands roofless and open to the elements, a romantic jumble of broken archways and pillars, while relics of a nearby Roman settlement, mummies from Peru and models of the original church are displayed among a scattering of tombs in the sacristy and apse, which remain intact. To get a bird’s-eye view of these photogenic ruins, head to Rossio Square in Biaxa (downtown Lisbon).
Open Oct–May Mon–Sat 10am–6pm; June–Sept Mon–Sat 10am–7pm. Admission €3.50. The Igreja do Carmo is accessible from the top of the Elevador de Santa Justa.