I'm a big fan of cemeteries. This is not because I'm morbid or have an unhealthy obsession with the dead. I love cemeteries because they are quiet places, filled with art. They are gorgeous sculpture gardens that offer tons of information about their city and its people. They are also often free to visit. This is another reason I often start my visit to a city at its most famed cemetery. In Lisbon, this is Cemitério dos Prazeres which is located on the border of the Estrela and Campo de Ourique neighborhoods. If you decide to visit, it is very easy to reach. You can take the 28 tram, walk (the hills are challenging, but great for your bum), or grab a taxi or Uber. No matter which way you choose, you will find a city of the dead that will open itself to let you discover many stories and secrets.
Cemitério dos Prazeres
This cemetery has quite an ironic name. The cemetery of pleasures has nothing to do with them. Cemitério dos Prazeres was built out of necessity. In 1833, Lisboa was affected by cholera. Thousands died and the city was under pressure to create a new resting city for the dead. Why the name? The cemetery sits on the land that used to house a quinta owned by the Palmella family.
Prazeres does indeed feel like a city. There are streets that are numbered. This and the map that you can procure when you come in make it a bit easier to find your way.
The cemetery is quite large, it is the largest in Lison. As you walk through keep an eye open because there is beauty around every corner.
One thing that freaked me out just a tad is that many of the tombs and mausoleums had either perforated doors or openings so you can clearly see the coffins inside. This was especially startling when the graves were in disrepair.
The aesthetics of the tomb will tell you a lot about the city and its history. This one, made out to the Chief of the squadron Franco Everard was placed by his daughters. The broken anchor tells us that he was a man of the seas.
This gravestone belongs to someone named Manoel de Oliveira Braga. One thing is sure, he must have loved dogs. As a dog lover who recently lost her best friend, this one had me tearing up quite a bit.
I found this cemetery to be much prettier than the British Cemetery near Estrela Basilica, but both are worth a visit.
Famous People at Prazeres Cemetery
Because the cemetery was located in the West side of Lisbon, which was the more affluent area, many of Lisbon's aristocratic families were buried there. This is one of the reasons the funerary architecture and art is so beautiful here. Let's meet some of its residents:
José Carlos da Maia: He was an officer of the Portuguese Navy and prominent Republican politician. When he was murdered in the Bloody Night of October 19, 1921, he was no longer involved in politics. If you want to learn more about this event, there is a mini series called Noite Sangrenta that follows the events and his murder.
Familia do Duque de Palmella: This is the mausoleum for the family of the Duke of Palmella, Dom Pedro de Sousa Holstein. He was a politician and ambassador. This happens to be the largest private mausoleum in Europe. The duke is in the center and is accompanied by not just family, but also friends and even two priests. There are over 200 people in this mausoleum.
Valle Flor Family: This was my favorite mausoleum and it comes with a very sad story. The patriarch of the family was José Luis Constantino Dias, a farmer from the north who made his fortune in the former colony of São Tomé e Principe. The top floor of his home, the Valle Flor Palace, was added so that the Marquês would have a clear sight of the Prazeres cemetery, where his two daughters were buried.
Familia Adriano Julio Coelho: Could not find much on the family except that he was part of the chamber of commerce in the 1920's, but could not resist posting this image. It was such a beautiful mausoleum I just had to.
Carlos Lobo de Ávila: Better known as Lobo d'Ávila, he was an aristocrat, writer, journalist and politician. He died quite young at a tender 34 (note the broken column, this is a sign of a life that ended prematurely), but he had already become famous in Portuguese intellectual circles. He was also one of the Vencidos da Vida, a group of Portuguese intellectuals.
Amália Rodrigues: Perhaps one of the most famed residents of Cemitério dos Prazeres is Amália Rodrigues, the famed fadoista. She has now been moved to the National Pantheon because many of her fans asked for it.
Fernando Pessoa: The famed poet was also a resident. In 1985, his remains were moved to Belem's cloister at the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos.
Firefigthers: There is an area that is designated as the burial ground of Firefighters. It is a beautiful way to honor their service. This spot also has some of the best views in Lisbon including that of the 25 de Abril bridge and the Tagus. Firefighters have been honored with this space since 1911. Make sure to check out the Crypt of firefighters, designed by the architect Dias da Silva who was also the architect for Campo Pequeno. There are old autopsy rooms here. It's a pretty interesting spot.
Other Notables: There are many others resting at Prazeres including António Gedeão, Cândida Branca Flor, Carlos Paredes, Henrique Mendes, Maluda, Mário Cesariny, Raúl Indipwo, Cesário Verde, Vasco Santana, Fernando Maurício, Raul Solnado.
Things to do near Prazeres Cemetery
Incredible Views: The cemetery has some gorgeous views over the Alcântara valley, Tagus and Ponte 25 de Abril bridge.
Mercado de Campo De Ourique: A short walk away, you can check out the market at Campo de Ourique. There are tons of restaurants and shops for you to choose from.
Red: Right outside the cemetery, there is a container restaurant that specializes in roast beef. It's damn good roast beef. Get the one with the egg on it.
How to get to Cemitério dos Prazeres
Cemitério dos Prazeres is located at Largo dos Prazeres, Praça São João Bosco
Tram: Take the Electrico 28. Prazeres is the last stop.
Bus: 9, 18 & 74
Hours of Operation
Daily 09:00am – 5:00pm (May – September 09:00am – 6:00pm)