It’s Halloween: Visiting Lisbon’s Cemeteries

Cemiterio dos Prazeres, Lisbon

Because today is Halloween, here’s something a little spooky — a visit to Lisbon’s cemeteries, the most famous of which being “the Cemetery of Pleasures.” Yes, that’s what its name translates to in English, but there’s a justified reason for that as GoLisbon has already told you here. Those who ride the unofficial tourist tram 28 until the end of its journey end up by its entrance gate, but there’s no way of knowing how many tourists actually venture through it.

Those who do, find a rather monumental city of the dead. In Portugal the dearly departed are honored with more than just a simple gravestone — their tombs are often so ornate, that they look like miniature temples or palaces. They’re meant to hold entire families inside, and the richer the decoration, the wealthier the family was in life. Why should you visit “the cemetery of pleasures”? You should if you like exploring cultural rituals or traditions different from your own. And in this case, you’ll also get a great view of 25 de Abril Bridge while you’re at it — Lisbon’s dead got some prime real estate!

About a 15 minute walk back through where you came from, following the tracks of the trams, will lead you to the Basilica of Estrela and the park in front of it. Behind that park, behind a tall wall, is another cemetery. That’s the English Cemetery, created in 1729 for the then-sizeable English community in Lisbon, or more precisely, those of the Protestant faith. It was also eventually shared with the Dutch community, and a separate section was created for the Jewish residents.

The most famous name buried here is Henry Fielding, author of the novel Tom Jones. He had travelled to Lisbon to improve his health, but died soon after. You can visit his grave by knocking loudly at the entrance in order to be let inside this cemetery that isn’t exactly a pleasure to see, but that can be quite a cultural experience for those who are not freaked out by being alone with the dead.
Happy Halloween from Lisbon!