The Carmo Ruins or the Carmo convent is one of the main attractions in Lisbon. It is a convent that was partly destroyed during the great earthquake. Today you can see what is left of the convent and it is truly a must see while in Lisbon. And we know exactly how you can get the most out of your visit.
The Carmo Ruins – start at the right place
If you have not yet been to the Lisbon Story Center, we recommend you to start there. At the Story Center, you will learn a lot about the Carmo Ruins and convent. There is even a movie playing where they have made a reconstruction of how the earthquake ruined the convent. The earthquake is the reason why the convent looks like it does today.
Today the ruins of the Carmo Convent stand in the middle of the city. It looks somewhat strange because the city is rebuilt and the convent is not. You can see the arches and you can come inside and see what’s left from the old days. Keep in mind that this is a sacred place – it may be more sacred than a lot of other places. This is the place where lots of people lost their lives.
Visiting the Carmo Ruins and Carmo church
When the earthquake struck November first in 1755 it was a holiday. A day when a lot of people were in the convent and church to pray. The convent and church collapsed and killed a lot of people. Many of the surviving people were questioning God. They were wondering what they had done to be punished like this. While walking inside the convent – well the ruins of the convent, it breaks your heart to imagine what happened here.
At first, they started to reconstruct the church in 1756 but stopped in 1834. The reason for that was that the religious orders were abolished in Portugal. Today it is a museum that you can visit. But the most powerful thing is the ruins of the arches. You can see them from either outside of the convent or from the Santa Justa lift. But there is a special thing to come inside and to look up at the arches from inside. A lot of emotions if you ask me!
The museum is both perfect and odd at the same time
There is also a museum inside the Carmo Ruins. Most pieces that are here are important sculptures from old ruined buildings. I found it really interesting to walk around, looking at all the different sculptures and pieces that remind you of the old days. But then there is a weird exhibition. I have no idea what the connection is between Lisbon and the mummies of Peru. But there might be one because there are two mummies inside the museum.
I am a huge fan of the morbid and I don’t mind seeing real Peruvian mummies while in Lisbon. But I can’t help but wonder what the point of this exhibition was. We have seen mummies while in Peru, but this was kind of misplaced and there wasn’t any explanation for why they were there! Now you know that you might bump into mummies while visiting the Carmo Ruins.
Our visit to the Carmo Ruins
We loved this place! Make sure that you visit when the weather is nice and the sky is blue because that is when the ruins look their best. There is something special about looking up and seeing the sky and the rest of the arches. And even if this place is well visited you can avoid the line by walking around in the city center.
If there is a line when you come here, take a walk and come back and you are likely to avoid the lines. We passed this place several times and sometimes there was a line but then, when we came back 20 minutes later – the line was gone!
Carmo ruins admission price and opening hours
Address: Largo do Carmo, 1200-092 Lisbon.
Opening hours: Monday – Saturday: 10.00 to 18.00 (to 19.00 from June to September). Sundays closed.
Entrance fee: 4 euros.