Tucked behind the stunningly plain white façade of the Church of Sao Roque in Portugal’s capital city, Lisbon, is a treasure-filled chapel that is widely recognised as being the most expensive chapel in the world.
Built using precious materials including gold, silver, ivory, deep blue lapis lazuli and the brightly grained gemstone, agate, Capela de Sao Joao Baptista or the Chapel of Saint John the Baptist, was originally constructed in Rome on the commission of King John V in 1741. More than one hundred artists worked to create the chapel under the direction of Italian architect, Filippo Terzi, and their art was recognised with a blessing by the Pope.
Six years after being commissioned, the Chapel of Saint John the Baptist was dismantled, loaded onto multiple ships and transported to Lisbon, where is sits today as one of eight chapels in ornate interior of the Church of Sao Roque.
The chapel boasts detailed mosaics and ceiling paintings, portraying the scene of the apocalypse, and has been recently reopened for public admiration after restoration works by Church of Sao Roque and the Institute of Museums and Conservation, which that began in 2010.
You can visit the Church of Sao Roque (or Igreja de Sao Roque) on Largo de Trinidade Coelho in Lisbon’s suburb of Barrio Alto. The Chapel of Saint John the Baptist is the fourth on the left as you enter.
Baixa-Chiado is the nearest Metro station to the Church of Sao Roque, which is open between 10am and 5pm every day except Mondays. More art and information about the Church of Sao Roque can be found in the neighbouring Museum of Sao Roque (or Museu de Sao Roque), which is open between 10am and 6pm Tuesday to Sunday and 2pm to 9pm on Thursday and charges a full admission fee of €2.50, except between 10am and 2pm on Sundays when it is free to enter.
A Lisbon apartment may not be quite as ornate as the gem and gold-lined Chapel of Saint John the Baptist, but there is no doubt that the city has some wonderful places to stay during your visit.
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