Estrela Basilica
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Estrela Basilica

This massive baroque/neoclassical church dominates the landscape within the Estrela district with its imposing façade. The impression the basilica makes is extenuated by the apex of the hill it sits on. The voluptuous white dome of the Basílica da Estrela and its twin belfries are visible from miles around.The basilica is also known as the Convent of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.


Estrela Basilica

Estrela Basilica aerial view

The story of its construction is a sad one and centres around the life of Queen Maria I (17th December 1734 – 20th March 1816). She was a monarch to a great empire that spanned the globe and included Brazil. However, the line of succession was very delicate with competing factions within the nobles waiting to undo her achievements of uniting the country. She needed an heir desperately yet her husband Pedro III was her senior by 20 years making the task of conception more difficult. Maria successfully bore a son on the 20th August 1761 who became José (Prince of Brazil). To give thanks Maria ordered the building of the Basilica.

Construction began during the later months of 1779 when Prince José was 18 years old and was overlooked by the architects Mateus Vicente de Oliveira and Reinaldo Manuel de Sousa, who also built the National Palace at Queluz. Tragedy struck in 1788 when José contracted smallpox and died at the age of 27, a mere two years before the completion of the basilica. The Queen was left broken-hearted until the end of her days which came an agonising 28 years later. Her final resting place can be found inside the Basílica da Estrela in the right-side transept. The similarity of the architectural style with the National Palace in Mafra is no accident as this was built by her father, João V, to celebrate the birth of his own first child. When completed the basilica was situated on the western extremity of Lisbon's perimeter away from the hustle and bustle. Today the Basilica da Estrela is regarded as one of the most ornate churches of Lisbon and one of Europes finest neoclassical buildings.


The interior is equally impressive as the exterior. The floor is made with beautiful grey, pink and yellow marble laid in a geometric design. Some paintings by Italian Neoclassical artist Pompeo Batoni adorn the pink and grey marble walls. In the right transept is the elaborate empire-style tomb of Queen Maria I. Inside too is the presépio, an elaborate 500-piece nativity scene made of cork and terracotta that dates from the 18th century. It is the creation of sculptor Joaquim Machado de Castro. This large nativity scene is on permanent display in a room next to the Queens tomb.
(Presépio: Tuesday – Saturday: 10h00 – 11h30/15h00 – 17h00, €1.50)

If gazing up into the cupola doesn't make you feel queazy you may opt to climb the 112 steps to the roof viewing terrace (Miradouro da Basílica da Estrela). From the top, there are amazing views over West Lisbon and the river Tejo (Tagus). Far below the bells from the trams 25 or 28 chimes as they chug by.
(Miradouro da Basílica da Estrela: Daily: 10h00 – 18h40, €4.00)
(Basilica: Daily: 17h30 – 19h45, FREE)

Yellow Bus Tour
Estrela Basilica - Interior

Estrela Basilica - Interior

Basilica da Estrela - Roof Terrace

Miradouro da Basílica da Estrela

Contact Details
Praça da Estrela, Lisbon 1200-667, Portugal.
38° 42' 49.3" N | 09° 09' 38.7" W


Urban train services (comboios urbanos) to Santos train station one mile South from the centre of Estrela:
• Cascais/Cais do Sodré line Timetable

Trains of Portugal Website
The nearest metro station is a 15 minute walk along the Avenida Álvares Cabra from Rato:
Carris bus routes to Belém from various areas around the city: Carris Website
• 706: Cais Sodré - Estação Sta. Apolónia: Timetable
• 709: Restauradores - Campo Ourique (Prazeres): Timetable
• 713: Alameda D. A. Henriques - Estação Campolide: Timetable
• 714: Pç. Figueira - Outurela: Timetable
• 720: Picheleira, R. Dr. Faria Vasconcelos - Alto Sto. Amaro: Timetable
• 727: Estação Roma-Areeiro - Restelo, Av. Descobertas: Timetable
• 738: Qta. Barros - Alto Sto. Amaro: Timetable
• 25E: Pç. Figueira - Campo Ourique (Prazeres): Timetable
• 28E: Praça Martim Moniz - Campo Ourique (Prazeres): Timetable