Lisbon 31st October 1755: the city imaginary museum

Paper presented at the Seminar THE CITY AS A VIRTUAL MUSEUM RECONSTRUCTING THE PAST TO LIVE IN THE PRESENT, V-Must, Network of Excellence (7FP) – Spanish Society of Virtual Archaeology (SEAV), ISCTE – IUL – Escola de Sociologia e Politicas Publicas

21-22 February 2014

Recreating Lisbon before the 1755 earthquake using virtual worlds technology, a challenging and groundbreaking venture for scientific research and education.


  • Helena Murteira
  • Paulo Simões Rodrigues

Video – International Workshop Virtual Historic Cities: reinventing urban research

Lisbon, May 21, 2010

Workshop organized in the scope of the City and Spectacle: a vision of pre-earthquake Lisbon project, a virtual recreation of the city of Lisbon before the 1755 earthquake, using Second Life® technology.

A pioneer project in Portugal, it is being developed by the Centre for History of Art and Artistic Research of the University of Évora (CHAIA), the company Beta Technologies, and the King’s Visualisation Lab (KVL), King’s College London.

Participants in this workshop included Bernard Frischer, Director of the Virtual World Heritage Laboratory, University of Virginia and scientific coordinator of the pioneer project Rome Reborn, a virtual recreation of Classic Rome; Richard Beacham, Director of the King’s Visualisation Lab, King’s College London, an institution focused on the application of the virtual language to historical research; Drew Baker, researcher and one of the founders of this institution; Ana Cristina Leite, Director of the Lisbon City Museum; António Filipe Pimentel, Director of the Portuguese National Museum of Ancient Art; Alexandra Gago da Câmara, researcher of CHAIA; Carlos Tavares Ribeiro, member of the Scientific Committee of the company VERSUS – 3D interactive development in the Web; Cristina Gouveia, representantive of the company YDreams – specialists in interactive technologies; Helena Murteira, researcher of CHAIA; Luís Sequeira, representantive of the company Beta Technologies – Architects of the Virtual World; Paulo Rodrigues, researcher of CHAIA; Ricardo Branco, representative of the Cultural Itineraries of the Tourism Association of Lisbon and Vítor Cóias, Director of GECoRPA – Group of companies for the conservation and restoration of architectural heritage.

The Lisbon earthquake of 1755: the catastrophe and its European repercussions

Published in Economia Global e Gestão (Global Economics and Management Review), Lisboa, vol. 10 (2004), p. 79-99.

This paper is based on a section of the author’s PhD thesis: A Place for Lisbon in Eighteenth Century Europe: Lisbon, London and Edinburgh a town-planning comparative study (PhD in Architecture, Faculty of Social Sciences, The University of Edinburgh, 2004).

Helena Murteira

In November 2005, Lisbon will recall a momentous event in its history: two hundred and fifty years before, a powerful earthquake (estimated magnitude of 9 using the Mercali scale) ruined most of its city centre, killed a significant number of its inhabitants and curtailed its wealth and its historical legacy. The scale of the seismic shocks and the damage it caused in the capital city were cause of bewilderment and astonishment not only in Portugal but also everywhere in Europe. Newspapers rapidly developed throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries benefiting from an increasing number of readers interested in what was happening all over Europe as well as in other regions of the recently “discovered” world (which had gradually been incorporated in the “known world” by the imperial expansion of the European nations). Apart from being a source of wide-ranging information at a time when the means were scarce and the demand was rising, the most renowned newspapers were used to swiftly and thoroughly assist the cultural and scientific European elite and, more specifically, to keep the European commercial and financial network up to date. The Lisbon earthquake made the European newspapers’ headlines for several months not only due to its dramatic consequences but also because of its commercial and political implications.

Let us examine the catastrophe and its repercussions on European society at the time in greater detail.
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