Post nº11 | How are the symbolic values organised in Lisbon morphogenesis?

Updated: Jan 18

#semiotics, #architecture, #signification, #urbanism















After the Reconquest, the central urban attractor was kept on the same place, and the Portuguese realms replaced those of the Arabic period. It had always been subdivided into two parties: the Political domain, the space of the military, which becomes the domain of royalty, is placed at the summit of São Jorge hill. The Religious domain, the space of the sacerdotal class, is placed on the slope of São Jorge hill, where the Christian Sé Cathedral replaces the main mosque. Within the intra-city walls, a mosque was turned into a cathedral.

The suburban ports, placed at the foot of São Jorge and São Francisco hills, are part of the Production domain. They did not change locations.


Reorganisation of the symbolic values concerning Lisbon after the Reconquest. The cult of the Martyr Saints allowed for the reconciliation of the formerly scattered populations. P – “Political”; R – “Religious”; Pe – “People”


Based on historical events, the elementary axiological system “Life vs. Death” can be summed up as follows:

• The Roman period marks the transition from “repulsion” to “attractiveness” towards extra urbem cemeteries;

• The Barbarian period marks, firstly, the diffused abandonment of the central urban pole towards extra urbem cemeteries and feudal domains. Secondly, under the Visigoth kingdom, there is an abandonment of the urban pole located in São Francisco hill and a gathering towards the urban pole at São Jorge hill;

• The Arabic period is marked by the conversion to Islam of the inhabitants of the central urban pole. Christians found cemeterial chapels in the domains of death (the hills around Aschbouna);

• The period after the Reconquest is particularly marked by the expansion of cemeterial chapels turned into churches and by the creation of parishes surrounding them. Through the Christianisation of the space allotted to the former domain of death, pilgrims, now settled and concentrated, are promptly kept within the parish domains.


In the 1st century of the medieval period, the updating of the symbolic values acting upon the surface of the site was already stabilised, and the conditions for the morphological collocation of the abstract forms were in place: an emerging structure could from then on spread out.

14 views0 comments