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  • Writer's pictureCatarina

The Secrets and Curiosities of Lisbon's Roman Galleries

Updated: 20 hours ago

Last September it was possible to visit this enigmatic place in downtown Lisbon, the Roman Galleries. A unique opportunity to go back two thousand years in time and that only ended in the projects of the XXI century.

The origins and functions of these galleries date back to the 1st century, they were a structure that held another on top, and there is no doubt that it is Roman. Recently, another hypothesis was presented that speaks of the existence of a river spa area.

These galleries were discovered, by accident, right after the 1755 earthquake, in fact it was after this discovery that the Marquis of Pombal was able to rebuild Lisbon, using these galleries as a base to support the city. The original structure of the galleries extends to the East side, the Alfama area. It is not known exactly how far, but there are drawings that prove the existence of other smaller galleries.

To allow visits there are water pumps that are permanently installed and start drawing water a week before the visits. Then the firefighters check the safety and structure of the building. A check is also made by another team that monitors the existing crack, as well as the water and air quality.

Myths Associated with Galleries

In the 19th century an urban myth was created that these waters were good for the eyes, so people came here to get water to wash their eyes. It was also believed that these galleries were connected to other spaces in the city, but now we know that this is a watertight building, built to be a part of the city.

But we now know that this is a watertight building, built to be dry. The water ended up getting in for some unexpected reason, like a construction error or a geological event like the 1531 earthquake or the 1755 earthquake because both were quite strong and followed by a tsunami.


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