An Ermida is a little chapel built in reclusive places (ermos), distanced from villages and towns.
She lived trough the Reign of King João V. Testified undamaged the terrible Lisbon earthquake in 1755. She was visited daily by fishermen, craftsmen, artisans and noblemen from the surrounding little houses of the Merceeiras de Cima. She was used by secular communities in Belém, in religious festivals and processions, celebrating; in-between it’s walls of good stone, death, life, birth and unity between human beings.
The sacred Ermida
It’s a sacred place for a small community or for those who had it built, who gave her an intimate, small, unique and sanctified character.
In between the walls and the street there is a division, as if marking two forms of existence. The door is a symbol for daily activity. Those who pass beyond it look for peace, a sense of inner order and balance despite the “profane” chaos of the outside world. The door is the vehicle for a “crossing over” ritual, separating two different worlds and simultaneously organizing them.
The door’s frame grows and curls up into two harmonious counter curves from which emerges an elevated cross. Sacred time communicates with profane time through a “crossing over” ritual. It begins once you pass beyond the door and under the cross.
In 1707 João Matias, a prosperous landlord, receives from Lisbon’s archbishop, Dom Joao de Sousa, the blessing to practice mass at the little Ermida that he had inaugurated in Belém. While investigating the historical contexts of these years, we sought to understand what led João Matias to build the Ermida.
Today the Ermida is restored and transformed, ready to assume its destiny in the XXI century.
Having been inaugurated by the priest José da Silva Carvalho in 1707, 300 years ago, its doors have once more open to the public, in 2008, only this time by the hand of an inspired and devoted owner and functioning as the cultural satellite of the project Travessa da Ermida presenting contemporary art exhibitions inside and design interventions on the outside.