São Vicente de Fora Monastery

The São Vicente de Fora Monastery is located in Largo de São Vicente, in the Alfama district. The name means "Monastery of St. Vincent Outside the Walls". The first monastery was founded in 1147 by Afonso Henriques, the first King of Portugal, to honor St. Vincent, the patron saint of Lisbon. There was a reconstruction between 1582 and 1629 that was ordered by Felipe II of Spain, who had become the King of Portugal. The first design was done by the Italian architect Filippo Terzi and two other architects worked on it (Pedro Nunes Tonouco and Leonardo Turriano). The church was severely damaged in the 1755 earthquake. The main dome and roof collapsed and the church had to be restored. In 1855 the refectory was converted into the pantheon of the Bragança dynasty. Today this contains the bodies of all the kings from 1640 to 1910.

The facade of the church is in the Italian Renaissance style, a bit severe. There are two towers, one on each side, and the façade has the statues of St. Agustin, St. Sebastian, and St. Vicente in niches over the entrance. The church has a Latin cross floor plan with one nave with lateral chapels. The coffered ceiling is beautiful. There is a large dome over the crossing. The main altar is Baroque and has a canopy with statues of angels at its side, the work of Joaquim Machado de Castro, who was one of the best Portuguese sculptors. There are many statues decorating the main altar. The church has an ivory statue of Christ that came from Goa in the 18th century. At the right of the façade is a gate to see the cloisters. These have many azulejos that are highly decorative.