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(June 15-21, 2007)

Philip Silver

Rhondda Heritage Park

Pedro Silva

Ruínas do Carmo

Lisboa, Portugal


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© 2007 Pedro Silva, All Rights Reserved.

This pano shows the ruins of the church of the "Convento do Carmo", a Carmelite Convent founded in 1389 by Nuno Álvares Pereira, the then Constable of Portugal (the supreme military commander, second only to the King). The gothic convent was built between 1389 and 1423, on the top of one of the main hills in Lisboa, overlooking the Rossio square and facing the historic moorish castle. It was initially occupied by a community of carmelite monks from Moura (in southeastern Portugal), which was joined by Álvares Pereira himself after his wife's death.

The great 1755 Lisboa earthquake destroyed most of the convent and its church, including all 5000 manuscript books of its library. In fact, the earthquake and the ensuing tsunamis and fire destroyed 85% of the city's buildings, including most of its famous palaces and libraries, and killed an estimated 90000 out its 275000 inhabitants. The shockwaves of the earthquake (8.7 on the Richter scale -- for comparison, the 1906 San Francisco quake was about 7.8, the 1995 one in Kobe, 6.9) were felt as far as Finland and North Africa, and the tsunamis hit the Martinique and Barbados across the Atlantic. The quake had a profound impact on the portuguese political aspirations, as well as on european philosophy. More recently, and avoidably, this medieval church has also been affected by underground work to extend the subway lines.

Today, the convent serves as barracks, and the church houses a small but notable museum. Remarkably, the whole church (including its museum) is under the care of the Association of the Portuguese Archeologists, a community which goes back to 1863 and has its headquarters here. This is quite rare, as most other monuments depend on government agencies or the catholic church.

I heartily thank the Association of the Portuguese Archeologists and its President, Dr. José Morais Arnaud, for permission to use a tripod inside the ruins, and Dr. Arnaud and the museum staff for their geniality during my visit there.
for more panoramas of Ruínas do Carmo, taken at the same time, see http://correio.fc.ul.pt/~pjns/Photos/Panoramas/wwp607/index.html

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