Santuario de Cristo Rei is one of the most prominent monuments in Lisbon. Located in the Tagus Estuary, on the southern river banks, in Alameda, this Jesus Christ statue is the symbol of gratitude for the fact that Portugal has been spared of the dreadful consequences World War II had on many countries and peoples in Europe. Santuário de Cristo Rei was erected in 1959, its model being the famous Cristo Redentor in Brazil. The Catholic Church rulers in Portugal at that time considered that they needed this way to thank God for the blessing of not being crippled by war.

ponte 25 de abril cristo rei

This is Ponte 25 de Abril, the bridge over Tagus, as seen from the commuter ferry. You can see the pedestal of Cristo Rei to the left of the bridge, partially covered by clouds

Before my trip to Lisbon I had no idea this European Cristo Rei existed. The giant Christ with his arms wide open is one of the best vantage points for photographing the 25th of April suspension bridge that connects the two banks of the Tagus Estuary. I noticed it the very first day, when I took a tour of the best miradouros of Lisbon to take some sunset photos of the city.  As I already had my eyes on that bridge, I wanted to visit Cristo Rei right away, to get some Lisbon panorama photos.

Where Is Santuario de Cristo Rei Lisbon and Why Visit?

The Lisbon statue of Christ is actually in Almada, on the southern bank of the Tagus / Tejo river. The monument sits in a beautiful park with palms, olive trees and cobblestone alleyways, on the very edge of the cliff and very close to Ponte 25 de Abril.

Visible from almost everywhere in Lisbon, the Cristo Rei monument gets a fair share of visitors. There’s parking on site. Buses stop just nearby. The entrance to the park is free. There are restrooms and restaurants on site, just by the entrance. As the park is pedestrian only, you’ll need to walk from the parking lot to the Jesus monument and to the observation deck area surrounding it.

santuario de cristo rei reception

This is the reception building of Santuario de Cristo Rei

On site there’s a reception building and a few other monuments such as Via Sacra and Cruz Alta (the Tall Cross).

cristo rei observation deck

The Cristo Rei Sanctuary observation deck is free to use. It offers magnificent views of Lisbon and its surroundings. Make sure you walk alongside the rail all the way, as there are scenic views on all sides.

Inside the monument there are several rooms: the main hall, the Blessed John XXIII Hall, the Chapel of Our Lady of Peace (Nossa Senhora da Paz), the Mercy Room, and the Sacristy. There’s also a souvenir shop selling religious items, statues and other such things.

The Cristo Rei ticket to climb inside the monument is 6 Euro. It isn’t included in your Lisbon Card.

You’ll take the elevator and then a short flight of stairs to the upper terrace on top of the pedestal. If there are lots of people, you may have to wait for a while, as the guardians control how many people enter at once.

I loved the views from the top of the monument. However, if you’re running short of time or you don’t want to put up with the crowd waiting to climb inside the Jesus statue, just give up and focus on the scenic views from the free observation deck.

How To Get to Santuario de Cristo Rei from Lisbon

There are many ways to get to Santuario de Cristo Rei from Lisbon, but all of them involve either crossing the Tagus river by boat or crossing the Ponte de 25 Abril bridge.

The most romantic way to get to Cristo Rei from Lisbon is to take the Transtejo & Soflusa commuter boat from Cais do Sodré, then walk alongside the dock until you get to an elevator that will take you uphill, into Almada. From that point, follow the Cristo Rei signs and you’ll get there in about 15-30 minutes. There are several boat crossings per hour, and you can use your metro Viva Viagem card to pay for the ride. The crossing takes less than 10 minutes, but that’s just enough time to take some photos of the boats and of Lisbon’s shoreline.

lisbon ferry commuters

The boat from Lisbon arriving to Cacilhas

If you don’t feel like walking, you can take the bus from Cacilhas to Cristo Rei. As the return is downhill, you can skip the bus and take a nice 30-minutes’ walk from the Christ statue to Cacilhas.

Last but not least, you can take a bus, a taxi or a Uber to cross the bridge to Almada and go directly to Cristo Rei without changing vehicles.

The Most Scenic Way To Get to Cristo Rei

Take a boat from Cais do Sodré to cross the river. As you look at the docks, you’ll see that most people take the left exit to the town. You should turn to your right and walk alongside the waterfront. On your left side you’ll see the abandoned ruins of industrial buildings that once were the factories of Gingal, all covered in amazing graffiti, and invaded by trees and lush vegetation. On your right side you’ll see the river and a panorama of Lisbon stretching from Terreiro do Paço to Belem and even farther away, to Cascais.

cacilhas dock ruins graffiti promenade

The dock runs alongside the walls of the abandoned industrial complex

cacilhas dock ruins entrance

Every now and then you’ll see openings leading to what seems to be someone’s shelter. I took lots of photos, but I didn’t step inside. By one of these holes in the brick wall there was a huge Bob Marley banner and a small altar with the sign “no photos” – I’m not publishing that photo, but keep in mind to seek for it if you visit Cristo Rei

After 15-20 minutes of walking, you’ll arrive to what seems to be the end of the world, Restaurante Ponto Final. This is an actual restaurant. I imagine on sunny days it is full of customers. On rainy and cold days of December, however, very few people visiting Lisbon stop here. I moved on to taking the elevator to get to Cristo Rei, the main purpose of my trip to Cacilhas.

cacilhas dock ponto final

The end of the Cacilhas pier promenade with Ponto Final restaurant and Elevador Panoramico da Boca do Vento

Elevador Panoramico da Boca do Vento is attended and free of charge. If you want to offer the guard a small tip, he’d tell you “obrigado” and accept it.

Once you’re up there, in Almada, follow the pedestrian signs that direct you to Santuario de Cristo Rei. That’s a 15-30 minutes walk at slow pace.

almada cristo rei street signs

There are many such signs. If lost, look up for the Cristo Rei statue and you’ll find the way

Going back to the docks to take the ferry back is a matter of walking on a slightly descending street through the center of Almada. That’s probably a 30 minute walk. Alternatively, take the bus from Cristo Rei.

The Cristo Rei Observation Deck – Perfect Lisbon Panorama Spot

I visited Santuario de Cristo Rei on a tricky December day with clouds and sun alternating with drops of rain and even rainfall. Here are some of my photos from this trip. I hope they make you wish to visit the Jesus Christ Lisbon statue and park during your next trip to Portugal.

lisbon panoramic view bridge

lisbon panoramic view belem

lisbon view river

25 april bridge lisbon Portugal

 

Click here to read more about the history of the Shrine of the Christ-King, the inspiration for Cristo Rei statue, the socio-political context, the Portuguese Bishops, the Patriarchate of Lisbon and the Diocese of Setúbal.

 

Violeta Matei
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