Tour Locations | The Soul of Alfama

  • LOCATION 32 | The Soul of Alfama

    Church of St. Miguel

    Turn right here and sit on the bench with the tile panel on its back while I tell about the church.


    The Church of São Miguel, or St Michael, dates from the 1100s. But it was rebuilt with two bell towers, in the Mannerist and Baroque styles in 1673. It survived the 1755 earthquake, preserving one of the richest gilded decorations in the city and paintings by Bento Coelho da Silveira. He's one of the most prominent Portuguese artists of the 1600s.

    Have a look at the tile panel on the left side of its façade.

    It dates from 1770, and illustrates Our Lady of the Rosary and Baby Jesus over St. Dominic and St. Catherine of Siena.

    Now have a look further down, to your right.

    Can you spot the old pink building? It's larger at the top than the base.

    It’s one of the oldest houses in Alfama, possibly dating from early 1500s.

    Can you see that its top part is wider than the first and ground floors? That was done to expand the buildings and meeting the needs of a growing population on a city, surrounded by walls.

    The plan in Alfama is still the same as in the medieval times, because the houses were built exactly in the same places of the previous ones.

    Even after the earthquake of 1755, the houses that were damaged or collapsed gave way to new houses built on the same site of the former.

    Have a look to your right.

    Can you spot the small fountain with a fish sculpture?

    Alfama, as you already know, has been the home of fishermen and fishwives.

    When you're ready, make your way down the rest of the stairs. Go around the church and head over to the palm tree.

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