The National Pantheon – Panteao Nacional – is located in the Alfama neighbourhood of Lisbon, where the Church of Saint Engracia once stood. The Pantheon is one of the more visited Lisbon tourist attractions and houses the tombs and cenotaphs of Portugal’s most famous and notable celebrities. In 1910, National Pantheon was declared a National Heritage Monument!
The church is dedicated to the martyr of the city of Braga, Saint Engracia. King John V commissioned the present-day construction, and a renowned Baroque architect of Portugal named Joao Antunes designed it. The structure remained incomplete after the death of a designer and was never used for prayer. However, in 1966, a new dome was added to complete the structure.
The architecture of the National Pantheon is breathtaking. Gorgeously adorned with pink marble and gold swirls, the dome structure resembles a large Fabergé egg. The interiors of a church possess elaborated patterns of marble; the walls have curved spaces and the entrance boasts the Portuguese coat of arms, held by two angels.
The fourth floor of the National Pantheon has a viewpoint, which offers a breathtaking view of the river and the ancient Alfama neighbourhood. I have often walked passed this impressive building many times and never fail to stop and take a moment to admire. My curiosity was ignited immediately upon learning that this place not only doubled as a lisbon tourist attraction, but also as the final resting place for Portuguese dead celebrities! I fancy I could hear the maudlin lamentings of the Portuguese equivalent to Tommy Cooper or Ant & Deck more promisingly.
Other things to do nearby on your Lisbon visit!
Alfama, a quaint village like neighbourhood where the National Pantheon is situated, is also another major tourist attraction in itself.
- Experience the native music of Fado which you can hear echoing the streets of Alfama by night!
- Enjoy the village atmosphere with Alfama’s narrow lanes filled with residential houses and grocery stores.
- Alfama houses many churches. Visit the oldest church, Lisbon Cathedral, Convento da Graça, Baroque church of Santa Engracia, which now functions as the National Pantheon, and the mannerist Monastery of Sao Vicente de Fora.
- The Castle of Sao Jorge, a medieval castle overlooking this locality is must visit place.
- Visit the Museum of Decorative Arts, famous for its mesmerising interiors.
- The slopes of Alfama have terraces like Miradouro de Santa Luzia and Miradouro das Portas do Sol offering magnificent views of the city.