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Lx Conventos - From sacred city to secular town. The extinction of religious orders and the dynamics of urban transformation in the nineteenthe century Lisbon

Technical Note:

The purpose of this project is to study, in a systematic and integrated manner, the impact of the dissolution of the religious orders in the development, functions and image of the new liberal city, which defines itself as foremost secular and developmentalist. In Lisbon, the religious houses were, and still are, buildings of exceptional character, constituting themselves, since the middle ages (concurrent with the strengthening of the Nation), as fundamental bodies of the Church’s power, symbolic landmarks in the city and irradiating centres of urban transformation. After the liberal revolution and the civil war, which ended in 1834, the liberal state confronted the nobility rights of birth and the privileges of the clergy, the main principles of the Ancient Régime, by imposing social equality and by questioning the social utility of the contemplative religious orders. The decree of May 30th 1834 – that dissolved the religious houses of all male regular orders and nationalized their assets – and the 4th of April, 1861 law – that dissolved the female convents – led to the alienation, in Lisbon, of nearly 130 monasteries, convents, colleges, hospitals and retirements, including their monastic and urban properties. These buildings where then given profane occupations, mainly public services (hospitals, schools, courts, factories) or were demolished and divided in plots, originating new realities. Raquel Henriques da Silva’s research, along with some other important approaches focused on specific cases, allow us to understand that the extinction of the convents was decisive in the urban development of Lisbon in the eighteen hundreds. This is the conducting line of the research we are aiming to pursue, through interdisciplinary methodology, including urbanistic, historic and architectonic approaches, in order to systematize information and cross data from written sources and cartography, some of which unpublished, belonging to the collections of Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo (T. Tombo) and Arquivo Municipal de Lisboa (AML). In spite of being focused on 19th century urbanism, the project will also take under consideration the present reality, for 200 years after the extinction of the religious orders, a new cycle is beginning, with the sale, by the State, of a significant amount of real estate that was then nationalized. This new situation opened a debate in civil society and the academic community, on how to protect this important cultural heritage, whose fate seems uncertain. Knowing that there is not a global understanding on how these buildings marked, and still mark, the city’s image, it is indispensable to study, and disclose the present and past realities, as this will serve as a basis for future decisions, allowing us to protect the existent heritage values, articulating them with new social, cultural and touristic needs. Due to the dimension and complexity of the study’s universe, this goal is only possible to be achieved with a multidisciplinary team. The research in history, art history, urbanism, architecture, decorative arts, industrial heritage, and vertical archaeology – will be developed by the Instituto de História da Arte (IHA) and Câmara Municipal de Lisboa (CML). The archival preservation of written sources, namely the documental series of the convents extinction - will be developed by T. Tombo – and the information technologies will be developed by CITI/FCT-UNL (Centro de Informática e Tecnologias de Informação - Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia (FCT). The project will also have an important network of Portuguese advisors and the experience of one of the coordinators of the Spanish project URBES Las ciudades espanolas, 1780-1930. We will also privilege the articulation with similar projects that are being developed elsewhere in the country.


{ Project Info }

Coordinated by: Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas, Universidade Nova de Lisboa

Project Type: PN ( National basic research or R&D projects )

Funding Entity: FCT / MCTES

Total Funding Amount: 187K Keuro

CITI Funding Amount: 35K Keuro


Start Date: 2013-03-01 / Efective Start Date: 2013-05-01

End Date: 2015-02-28 / Efective End Date: 2015-04-30




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