It is one of the greatest natural disasters that Portugal has ever known. 1er November 1755, an earthquake (followed by a tsunami and countless fires) ravaged Lisbon and left two-thirds of the city in ruins. A historical turning point around which one of the new cultural places of the Portuguese capital, the Quake Museum, was designed. Its motto ? “Expect the unexpected.”
Since the museum opened on Wednesday April 20, the Portuguese press has been won over. the Diario de Notícias, for example, boasts a “unique experience that will once again make Lisbon tremble”. The space, located in Belém, has 1,800 m2 on three floors, with maps, special effects and simulators in English, Portuguese, Spanish and French. Everything comes together to offer a “time travel”, explains the daily, which specifies:
“Everyone is invited to ‘relive the hours that preceded and followed the earthquake, without forgetting what followed: the reconstruction of a visionary Lisbon, and the emergence of new philosophical thoughts that resulted from it.”
The horizon of a new disaster
The event, which impressed the Europe of the Enlightenment (Voltaire mentions it in Candid or optimism), gave rise, in fact, to a veritable architectural, but also cultural, academic and political revolution, imposed by the Marquis of Pombal, all-powerful minister of King Joseph Ier. The latter, with the help of his architects, urban planners and engineers, imposed, for the reconstruction of Lisbon, a plan and an organization which owe much to French illuminism.
Beyond its historical education, the Quake Museum also intends to inform and warn visitors of potential risks. Because they do exist, underlines in the columns of the newspaper Maria João Cruz Marques, co-responsible for the project:
“We live with the still very present idea that a new earthquake could take place [à Lisbonne]. The question is not whether such an event will repeat itself, but when, due to our tectonic position.”
Also, the museum offers an introduction to seismology and civil protection in a small “training center” dedicated to prevention.