All Saints Royal Hospital: the city and public health




With its first stown laid by the King himself in 1492, in Lisbon, the All Saints Royal Hospital was the first central hospital created by the Portuguese Crown . Produced in the context of assistance reformation carried out by King D. João II, it resulted from the merge of around fifty small urban medieval hospitals, with the intention of generating a more efficient healthcare and administrative institution. Active until 1775, when began the building demolition, the Renaissance-inspired construction determined the design of the city, its public spaces and circulation, becoming a symbol of royal power and urbanity .

The project «All Saints Royal Hospital: the City and Public Health» is a joint initiative of the Lisbon City Council, through its Cultural Heritage Department and CHAM.

The research is based on the treatment of materials from the last major archaeological intervention of 1999-2001, and in an exhaustive documentary survey in the historical collection of the Hospital de São José – one of the the present day central hospitals located in the former Jesuit College to where All Saints Royal Hospital was transferred in 1775.

The project started with the definition of the current state of the art on All Saints Royal Hospital history,based on a careful bibliographic and iconographic survey. After completing this task, work was organized according to two distinct areas: the historical study, by the research on the vast archival collection of «Torre do Tombo» National Archives and also on the Municipal Archive of Lisbon and the Historical Archive of Santa Casa da Misericórdia, in order to identify the documents referring to the All Saints Royal Hospital; the archaeological study, with the inventory and conservation and restoration interventions on the vast collection from the archaeological excavations, especially on those carried in 1999-2001, in order to provide the exhibition destined to the general public.

The  work began with the involvement of teams from CHAM – Centre for the Humanities of NOVA FCSH and from the Department of Cultural Heritage of the Lisbon City Council (Municipal Archive, Lisbon Centre for Archeology and Heritage Studies Centre). These investigators were associated with others as a result of the partnership with the research project «Hospitalis – Hospital Architecture in Portugal in the Dawn of Modernity: Identification, Characterization and Contextualization» (PTDC / ART-HIS / 30808/2017), in a perspective of resource sharing and optimization of results, since both projects are dedicated to complementary aspects of hospital history.



All Saints Royal Hospital, despite being the most important in the city of Lisbon and in the Kingdom during Early Modern Age, regardless being a reference institution in its time even outside Portugal,remains unknown to nowadays most people (locals, students and Portuguese and foreign researchers dedicated to history of assistance and hospitals). This fact is strongly conditioned by the destruction of the building and its disappearance, and may be mitigated through the promotion of projects such as the one currently underway and others that are to be developed in the future, based on the vast information collected. For this objective it is essential to create synergies, to carry out  joint work (regardless of certain institutional circumstances), sharing and optimizing resources (which are not only financial and human, but also intellectual), as carried out in this project.
It is also relevant important to highlight the international importance of the institution, on one hand integrating the context of the reformations of assistance that were taking place in Europe since the beginning of the 15th century, the creation of All Saints Royal Hospital being the most remarkable event of such a kind in Portugal. Likewise, it is important to study its medical and assistance capacities along more than three centuries, its daily life, its internal regulations, staff, financial management, among others, which will allow to know this particular institution in relation to its contemporary counterparts, using similar studies existing for other hospitals in Europe and overseas.

However, the main product of the project is a temporary polynucleated temporary exhibition, which intents to highlight all areas of action of partner institutions, in order to cover the different scopes relative to All Saints Royal Hospital.

The exhibition will be conceived in a multidisciplinary approach, crossing material culture recovered on the archaeological interventions, cartography, iconography and archival documents, as well as infographics, 3D and multimedia reconstructions, trying to provide data from the ongoing research.

Concerning the entire exhibition a book is being edited, in which a set of contextual texts is being brought together, exploring a variety of approaches on the Royal Hospital. The aim is to provide a publication that reflects current knowledge about the building, the institution and public health in the city of Lisbon, with profuse and unprecedented illustrations.


Main activities to be developed: 


Start: 2017
Principal Investigators: André Teixeira (CHAM) / Edite Alberto (CHAM) / Rodrigo Banha da Silva (CHAM)




- Câmara Municipal de Lisboa

- Câmara Municipal de Lisboa
- CHAM — Centro de Humanidades / Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas/Universidade Nova de Lisboa | Universidade dos Açores


- Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo / Direção-Geral do Livro, dos Arquivos e das Bibliotecas
- Assembleia da República
- Centro Hospitalar Universitário Lisboa Central
- Metropolitano de Lisboa
- Museu da Farmácia
- Museu da Saúde
- Museu Nacional de História Natural e da Ciência / Universidade de Lisboa
- Patriarcado de Lisboa
- Projecto - Hospitalis – Arquitetura Hospitalar em Portugal nos Alvores da Modernidade
- Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa




André Teixeira    .    Coordenator

Edite Alberto   .    Coordenatora

Rodrigo Banha da Silva   .    Coordenator

Maria Teresa Avelino Pires (CHAM)

André Bargão (CHAM)

Sara da Cruz Ferreira (CHAM)

Camila Amaral (CMLisboa)

Rui Henriques (CMLisboa)



O Hospital Real de Todos-os-Santos: Lisboa e a Saúde / All Saints Royal Hospital: Lisbon and Public Health, Edite Martins Alberto (ed.); Rodrigo Banha da Silva (ed.), André Teixeira (ed.). Lisboa: Câmara Municipal de Lisboa / Santa Casa da Misericórdia, 2021, 648p./664p.

ISBN: 978-972-8543-63-1, 978-972-8543-57-0