to Oporto cemeteries
centuries, burials in Portugal were usually made inside the churches. But a
complex conjugation of facts and ideologies condemned this dangerous habit:
after many decades of failed intentions, Portuguese public cemeteries were
officially created, in 1835. Therefore, inhumations inside the churches became
prohibited. However, it took many years until this law was fully accomplished:
popular resistance to outer cemeteries remained very strong. Oporto was not an
exception. Nevertheless, Oporto has now several kinds of cemeteries: two public
municipal cemeteries, a handful of public parochial cemeteries, eight private
catholic cemeteries (six of it inside the municipal cemeteries), one private
protestant cemetery (known as the British Cemetery) and a private catholic
cemetery in catacombs (closed to burials more than a century ago).
Today, the most important cemeteries are considered museums, as very
important places of history and art. Oporto cemeteries, specially those
described in this guide, perfectly fit into this pattern. In fact, the most
important 19th century Portuguese cemeteries, also called romanticist cemeteries, were
conceived to be galleries of remarkable men, pantheons of noble families,
archives made of masonry and ironwork. Its pompous mausoleums reflect a
particular attitude towards death, so emphasized in the 19th century: the
preservation of ones memory. Therefore, each of the following cemeteries became a place
of memory and a "city of the dead", containing some of the same
paradoxes and virtues from all the other cities.
In the 18th century, the British colony was very
numerous in Oporto and there was a clear necessity of a private cemetery. In
fact, in those days, British subjects were buried without dignity in the
riverside, because they were not allowed to have a cemetery of their own. After
hard negotiations, a British cemetery was established in 1788, surrounded of
high walls. It was the first permanent burial ground outside Oporto's walls, far
from houses and churches. However, only in the 1820s this cemetery received the
first monuments. These were similar to others built in cemeteries from northern
Europe. Therefore, this cemetery became quite different from all the others in
peculiar intramural cemetery was established in the second half of the 18th
century, under S. Francisco Church. It's not a modern cemetery, but is quite
unique. It can be visited as a part of S. Francisco Museum.
The Lapa Cemetery
This cemetery was officially established in 1833
– a dramatic year in Oporto's History, as a consequence of the civil war
episode known as "Cerco do Porto" and the subsequent cholera epidemic.
It's considered to be the oldest modern cemetery in Portugal. However, only in
1838 this cemetery was consecrated and - one year later - were built here the
first big monuments. In the following decades, this private and elitist cemetery
stood as the most important in northern Portugal. Many important figures from
the 19th century have here their family tombs, which were widely imitated in
other cemeteries. Some of these tombs are quite magnificent.
The Prado do Repouso Cemetery
This was the first public cemetery in Oporto. It
was established in 1839, inside a bishop's farm. Curiously, for some years this
cemetery stood partially as a farm, because Oporto citizens preferred private
cemeteries. Only in the 1850s building of tombs became a regular practice here. Nowadays, the
Prado do Repouso (which means "meadow of rest") is one of the most
important Portuguese cemetery, in terms of history and architecture.
The Agramonte Cemetery
This cemetery was established in 1855, as a consequence of another cholera epidemic. For some years this cemetery stood as a mere burial ground, without organization. Only in the 1870's it begun to receive monuments, becoming the favorite Oporto cemetery at the end of the 19th century. Its importance is similar to the Prado do Repouso.
Guided visits to Oporto cemeteries are available since 1999. Every year, tours are made to the Lapa cemetery, the Prado do Repouso cemetery or the Agramonte cemetery. Please contact Francisco Queiroz for further information.
Prado do Repouso cemetery and Agramonte cemetery, in Oporto, are both members of the ASCE - Association of Significant Cemeteries in Europe