The Carmo Convent in Lisbon is a fascinating place to visit.
It is one of the main remaining ruins standing after the 1755 earthquake.
And, the Convento de Carmo is now the home of the Carmo archeological museum with a wide variety of pieces to discover.
Below is my guide to help you plan your visit.
Before my tips + photos, here are my favorites for Portugal:
My favorite platform to rent a car in Portugal: DiscoverCars
The unmissable boat tour: Benagil sea cave from Portimao
My favorite excursion from Lisbon: Sintra Pena Palace and Cabo da Roca
Why visit the Carmo Convent? Video
Is a visit to the Carmo Convent worth it?
In my opinion, it is worth a visit as it is different from the rest of Lisbon.
In 1755, the earthquake destroyed most of the town. The Carmelite convent is one of the main remaining ruins still standing.
If you are looking for older buildings in Lisbon, this is one of your best options.
Plus, the tiny archaeological museum inside is quote odd and fun. This is a unique experience!
This is one of the top things to do in Lisbon on a city break.
Virtual tour – video
Below is a short video to give you an idea of what your visit could look like:
Note: the Carmo Convent church in Lisbon should not be mixed with the Igreja do Carmo church in Porto. It is another famous church but quite different.
More details and photos after the planning tips.
Planning tips – Carmo Convent, Lisbon
How to get to the Carmo Convent in Lisbon
- In the Chiado area of Lisbon
- At the top of the Santa Justa Lift – easy access on foot
- Entrance is located on Praça Largo do Carmo
- You can take a cab or a tuk tuk
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Visiting the Carmo Archeological Museum
- Carmo Convent opening hours – Monday to Saturday – 10am to 6pm (Oct to May) – 10am to 7pm (June to Sept) (latest info here)
- Carmo Convent price – 5€ per adult (latest info here)
- A few stairs inside
- Facilities inside
- No photography with tripod
- See the best rated accommodations in Lisbon
Where to stay in Portugal?
- Lisbon to explore the vibrant city: see best rated accommodations
- Sintra to visit many palaces: see best rated accommodations
- Porto to feel the history: see best rated accommodations
- Obidos to walk on the medieval walls: see best rated accommodations
- Douro valley if you love wine: see best rated accommodations
- Lagos, charm in the Algarve: see best rated accommodations
- Portimao central to explore the Algarve – see best rated accommodations
Lisbon under the star – Carmo convent light show
During high touristic season, you can also discover a light show in the ruins of the Convento de Carmo. It is called Lisbon under the star.
Images, sounds and special effects create a wonderful show against the walls and vaults of the ruins.
During the show you can hear the story of the building’s adventures over the centuries, from its construction to its destruction during the earthquake.
The Carmelite convent from the outside
One of the best views of what remains of the Carmo Convent Lisbon is from the Santa Justa Lift viewing platform.
If you take the elevator from downtown and climb to the top you can see on one side amazing views of Lisbon and looking towards the back you discover the ruins of the Carmo church, the only still standing walls and arches of the convent.
Largo do Carmo
The entrance to the ruins and the museum is from the small and charming Largo do Carmo place with a nice fountain in the middle.
Parking is limited, so I recommend visiting on foot or by taxi.
At the entrance to the church, look for the engraving.
There is an inscription from a decree by Pope Clement VII in the early 16th century: 40 days indulgence to faithful Christians visiting the church.
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Convento de Carmo History & Facts
In the museum is a replica of what the church, Igreja do Carmo Lisbon, used to look like before the earthquake:
- The Carmo convent was built during the end of the 14th century and the 15th century
- It was founded in 1389 for the Carmelite Order
- It has a plain gothic style with a Latin Cross plan
- However, there are Manueline windows and details from the 16th and 18th centuries
- It was the home of a large library with roughly 5000 books
- Most was destroyed during the big 1755 earthquake, the roof collapsed on the congregation
- It was for a while a military Stronghold
- Given to the Association of archeologists in mid 19th century and turned into a museum
- At the time of the earthquake, it was the largest church in Lisbon
More info on the Wikipedia Page
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Ruins of the Carmo Church
The first part of the visit is through the ruins of the gothic church?
Upon entering, you first discover the nave of the church. The roof has been left open in memory of the earthquake.
It is quite an emotional place for the symbol it has become.
Some of the arches were repaired.
Seeing those arches without the roof is quite impressive.
It is not often that you can appreciate them like that.
A lot of the convent’s art survived the earthquake.
Pieces were distributed among the different churches.
However, you can still enjoy many pieces around the Gothic arches and in the sacristy.
This is the view from the museum entrance looking back towards the convent entrance:
Carmo Archaeological Museum: mummies, tombs and more
The Chiado Convent is now the home of the Carmo Archeological museum (Museu Arqueológico do Carmo).
Outside are fountains and structural pieces and stone art.
Inside is quite a mix! This is a small museum, so you won’t get bored. And it has a wide mix of artefacts, especially donations from the private collection of Portuguese archaeologists.
Chapel & Sacristy
After the open-air part, you can enter the section which still has a roof.
This apse has a main chapel and four side chapels.
There is a nice play of light inside with the tall walls and various windows.
In one of the rooms, you can watch (Portuguese and English) a video explaining the six centuries of the convent’s history.
Inside you can find tombs with intricate carving work. The most famous is the one of King Ferdinand I.
Carmo Convent Mummies
But what can be most intriguing are the mummies of Peru.
Enclosed in glass, you can see two Pre-Columbian called “beautiful girls”. They are quite well-preserved and come from one of those donated private collections.
It is quite morbid.
And strangely they are placed near an Egyptian sarcophagus. This museum is very odd!
I did not take a picture.
Some books are still on display to remind of the huge collection which was lost during the big earthquake.
Tools and artefacts
You can also discover older archeological pieces and tools from the Bronze age and later.
Want to see more of the best Portugal has to offer?
- 30 Most beautiful landscapes in Portugal – read article
- Best things to do in Portugal – read article
- The best beaches in Portugal – read article
- The best villages in Portugal – read article
- Lisbon vs Porto – where to go? – read article
- Driving in Portugal – read article
- The best of the Algarve region – read article
- The highlights of Sintra and the Sintra-Cascais Nature park – read article
And keep track of your own trip!
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