Saint Engracia Church

Saint Engracia Church is located at Largo de Santa Clara, in the Alfama district. The construction of this church started in 1682 and the architect was Joao Antunes. The architect died in 1712 and the construction stopped. The construction restarted in the 20th century and was finished in 1966. St. Engracia was a native of Braga and is venerated as a virgin martyr and saint. Tradition states that she was martyred with eighteen companions in 303 AD in Zaragoza.

The church uses the Greek cross floor plan. There was supposed to be a square tower at each corner but these were never built. The main façade has Baroque architecture and there are three niches with statues. The façade also has the coat of arms of Portugal held by two angels. Inside there is a high dome that was completed only in the 20th century. There are multicolored marble patterns on the walls and on the floor, using Baroque designs. There is an organ built in the 18th century and came from the Lisbon Cathedral.

In 1966 the government of the dictator Antonio de Oliveira Salazar renamed the church as the National Pantheon because many important people were buried there, some statesmen and some artists. Amalia Rodrigues is buried here. She was the most famous fado singer in Portugal. There are also cenotaphs of Vasco da Gama (who rounded the Cape of Good Hope and opened up the route to India) and Henry the Navigator (the third son of Joao I, who initiated the Portuguese maritime expansion). A cenotaph is an empty tomb or a monument erected in honor of a person or group of people whose remains are elsewhere.