Cathedral do Carmo walkway should reopen in November

A TWENTY-FIVE metre walkway leading from the Santa Justa lift directly to the ruins of the Cathedral do Carmo will reopen after nine years.

Work on restoring the damaged passageway, which was closed after structural problems made it unsafe for pedestrians, should be completed by November this year.

According to the National Laboratory of Engineering the walkway was closed to the public in 1996 on the advice of the bombeiros sapadores (firemen) who claimed it was on the point of collapse.

In the engineering report, a number of cracks were detected affecting the foundations of the cathedral and the walkway, caused by subsidence and the constant movement of the metro at Baixa Chiado below.

Carla Casacão, who works as a tourist guide at the famous Victorian elevator, said that many tourists were sad that they were not able to walk directly from the lift into the ruins of the cathedral. The monument collapsed killing hundreds one Sunday in November 1755, when Lisbon suffered a devastating earthquake.

“The tourists often ask why there are works going on, including some that had already visited Lisbon some years ago and were surprised to see the walkway shut,” she said.

“Tourists are surprised because most of the official tourist literature about the city, including that of the Câmara and even many guidebooks, mention the walkway and don’t say that it is off limits,” she added.

Apparently, it also doesn’t help that the notice warning visitors about the closure posted by the lift in Baixa de Lisboa, is only written in Portuguese.

José Arnaut, President of the Portuguese Architectural Association, believes that the cathedral monument has lost a lot of visitors in the past decade because of the closure of the walkway. CG