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.


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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