Great Lisbon Earthquake

On November 1st 1755, at about 9:40 a.m., an enormous earthquake, followed by a tidal wave and a succession of fires, devastated the city of Lisbon.

Thousands of people perished under the ruins or in the flames. Innumerable houses were destroyed or affected, including some of the most important churches, palaces and royal buildings of the Court of Portugal. Five days later, the weekly Lisbon gazette, the Gazeta de Lisboa, the only printed periodical published at the time in Portugal, reported the event as follows:

The first day of this month will be remembered throughout the centuries because of the earthquakes and fires that have destroyed a large part of this city; fortunately, the safes of the royal exchequer, as well as those of many private citizens, have been recovered from the ruins [Gazeta de Lisboa (GL), No. 45, 1755]

THERE never was a finer morning seen than the 1st of November; the sun shone out in its full luster; the whole face of the sky was perfectly serene and clear; and not the least signal of warning of that approaching event, which has made this once flourishing, opulent, and,populous city, a scene of the utmost horror and desolation, except only such as served to alarm, but scarcely left a moment's time to fly from the general destruction.”

— Rev. Charles Davy