The story of the Estrela Basilica begins with Queen Maria I's fervent dedication to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. After her marriage to Infante Peter of Braganza in 1760, the princess made a solemn vow before an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Convent of Carnide. She vowed to build a church and convent under the Rule of Saint Theresa if she were blessed with children who would secure the succession of the House of Braganza.

Queen Maria, the eldest daughter and heiress presumptive of King Joseph I, ascended to the throne in 1777 following her father's death. It was then that she could fulfill her vow and embark on the construction of the Estrela Basilica. The project commenced in 1779, with the groundbreaking ceremony held on October 24. Queen Maria's husband, Peter III, laid the first cornerstone, and Fr. António Pereira de Figueiredo delivered a moving speech to commemorate the occasion.

Overseeing the construction was Mateus Vicente de Oliveira, a prominent court architect who played a pivotal role in shaping the basilica. Under his guidance, the conventual areas were constructed between February 1778 and May 1781, while the initial phases of the Basilica were also underway. Tragically, Oliveira passed away in 1785, and his responsibilities were assumed by Reinaldo Manuel dos Santos, who brought the project to its completion.

The Estrela Basilica in the Estrela neighborhood of Lisbon stands as a grand testament to the architectural styles of late Baroque and Neoclassical design. Perched atop a hill, it commands attention from afar and offers breathtaking panoramic views of its surroundings. The façade is adorned with twin bell towers, ornate statues of saints, and allegorical figures that add an air of majesty to the structure.

Inside the basilica, visitors are greeted by an awe-inspiring space adorned with a harmonious blend of gray, pink, and yellow marble. The intricate geometric patterns that grace the floors and walls are among the most exquisite in all of Europe. The church's interior design is further enhanced by the masterful paintings of Pompeo Batoni, contributing to a sense of balance and beauty. Recommends

A significant highlight within the Estrela Basilica is the tomb of Queen Maria I, located in the right transept. This sacred space serves as a poignant reminder of the queen's unwavering faith and her profound impact on the basilica's existence.

Another notable attraction that mesmerizes visitors is the renowned nativity scene crafted by sculptor Joaquim Machado de Castro. This stunning display features over 500 intricately designed figures made from cork and terra cotta. The nativity scene captures the essence of the holiday season and draws visitors into a world of wonder and reverence.

The Estrela Basilica stands not only as a place of worship but also as a cherished symbol of Portugal's rich cultural and religious heritage. Its majestic presence, remarkable architecture, and artistic treasures continue to inspire awe and reverence in all who have the privilege of experiencing its grandeur.

Whether you are a devout pilgrim seeking solace or an admirer of architectural splendor, a visit to the Estrela Basilica promises an unforgettable journey through faith, history, and art. Immerse yourself in the tranquil ambiance, marvel at the intricate details, and allow the profound spirituality to touch your soul. The Estrela Basilica is more than a place of worship; it is a testament to the power of devotion and the enduring beauty of human creation.

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