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Folders  |  Cardães Convent: follow the Guide!
Cardães Convent: follow the Guide!
Cédric Lecler
Cardães Convent: follow the Guide!
Cardães Convent: follow the Guide!

Around 1650, D. Luísa de Távora, a rich aristocrat from a Portuguese family, decides to end her days in a convent, after the death of her husband. So, what better way than to have her own convent built, which she did in what is today Príncipe Real. At the time, this part of Lisbon was still empty field and the Convent dos Cardães (thistle bushes) was built among the thistles.

This Convent, built between 1677 and 1703, in Portuguese baroque style, has a church in honour of Nossa Senhora da Conceição and the life and work of Santa Teresa de Ávila, who reformed the Carmelite Order.

It housed the Order of the barefooted Carmelites, about 20 nuns who lived there permanently, in the greatest simplicity, totally isolated and sheltered from the outside world and its temptations. These ladies led an incredible life dedicated to prayer, withdrawal and silence. Many aspects bear witness to this total seclusion where everything was done so that contact between these Carmelites and the rest of the world was reduced to the absolute minimum: Mass was held in a wing that was not visible to the people outside, or the fact that the only place where mail and objects could be exchanged with the outside was the tower. Once inside, one could never leave it. This can be seen from the number of tombs surrounding the big Cloister, where the inhabitants of this Convent have been laid to rest for centuries.

The Convent and its nuns, often born in the Portuguese aristocracy, are well acquainted with dramatic episodes in History, namely the earthquake in 1755 and the appropriation of the Convent and its treasures by the Crown (Évoramonte Convention in 1834). It has one of the rare coat of arms of the Távora family, which was publicly executed, accused of plotting against the King. How were the Carmelites able to save this coat of arms? I won´t say anymore and I invite you to visit this very well kept place, full of surprises. Today, it houses the Dominican Sisters, who since 1877 run a shelter for blind and mentally retarded women. Don´t forget to pass by the visitors room where you can buy several products for a reasonable price, made by the nuns and other generous souls: jams and pickles that are truly delightful.

Two celebrations every year welcome the public: one is the Festa de Santa Joana (second last weekend in June) and the other is the Christmas sale (last weekend in November).

Convent dos Cardães
Rua do Século, 123. Tel : 21.342.75.25: contact Sister Ana Maria, Mother Superior.

Tour guides (even if it´s only for one or two people) every afternoon, except Sundays and holidays, from 14h30 to 17h30. Admission fee: €2 (for restoring the Convent).

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