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

Lisbon before the 1755 earthquake (video 2013)

Video of the current stage of the project “City and Spectacle: a vision of pre-earthquake Lisbon” made at the request of the Ancient Art National Museum (Portugal) in the framework of the exhibition “The Prodigious Order. From the Patriarchal to the Royal Chapel of St. John Baptist”.

Project by CHAIA/University of Évora.

Scientific coordination: Alexandra Gago da Câmara, Helena Murteira and Paulo Simões Rodrigues. 3D modeling: Beta Technologies. Video production: Nuno Barrela. Music “Alessandro nell’Indie” by David Perez (1711-1778), recorded by Antena 2/RTP in 2005, which kindly allowed its use on the project.

Video for City and Spectacle: A Vision of Pre-Earthquake Lisbon

Presentation video for the City and Spectacle: A Vision of Pre-Earthquake Lisbon virtual archeology project, which is implementing a possible representation of the Baroque Lisbon of 1755 just before the earthquake destroyed it.

The technology used is Second Life/OpenSimulator and the research project will allow visitors to be immersed in the virtual environment and participate in interactive historical events with other users across the world, simultaneously and in real time.

This project is integrated in the “Connecting Cities” framework of the CHAIA research centre.

Research Team

  • Maria Alexandra Gago da Câmara (Art Historian, Open University, CHAIA)
  • Maria Helena Murteira (Art Historian, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, CHAIA)
  • Paulo Alexandre Rodrigues (Art Historian, University of Evora, CHAIA)

Production Team

  • Silvana Moreira (Modeler, Beta Technologies)
  • Luís Miguel Sequeira (System Administrator, Beta Technologies)

Video Production

  • Jeff Bush (Producer, Beta Technologies)
  • Michael Sudyn (Editor, Flying Dreams Inc.)
  • Phil Lee (Narration, CityVox)


  • Beta Technologies
  • King’s Visualisation Lab (King’s College)

City and Spectacle: A Vision of Pre-Earthquake Lisbon (Updated for VMSS 2009)

For this next phase of the project, the virtual reconstruction of the eastern side of the Lisbon’s Royal Courtyard (Terreiro do Paço) just before it was destroyed by the 1755 earthquake was updated, as new research corrected the earlier sketches.

The façades of the Opera House were redone, as well as the Palace Gardens. The Clock Tower by Canevari was more accurately modelled. Thanks to a reasonably detailed blueprint for the Patriarchal Church, this whole area was done from scratch, with the western façades inspired by an existing engraving showing one of the remaining buildings. The blueprint also shows a far more precise layout of Capela Street in the decade before the earthquake, which implied a major change of the existing modelled street.

Thanks to a more advanced rendering engine developed by Linden Lab for their Second Life viewer, the new images and the video below are now able to display projected shadows. The underlying server technology was upgraded to OpenSimulator 0.6.6.

Developed for CHAIA (University of Évora) by Beta Technologies, the project was presented at the 15th International Conference on Virtual Systems and Multimedia (VSMM 2009), which took place in Vienna, Austria, 9-12 September, 2009.


Pátio das Arcas – City and Performing Art. Spaces and Places for Theatre in Baroque Lisbon

Presented at Congresso Internacional
 LA CULTURA DEL BARROCO ESPANOL E IBEROAMERICANO Y SU CONTEXTO EUROPEO, Instituto de Estudios Ibéricos e Iberoamericanos de la Universidad de Varsóvia, Warsaw, Poland, September 2009, by Maria Alexandra Trindade Gago da Câmara (Universidade Aberta/CHAIA – Universidade de Évora).

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