Whether you’re religious or not, it’s hard to deny the pure architectural allure behind Porto’s churches. From Gothic to Baroque, tile clad and gilded, here are just 5 of Porto’s most beautiful churches.
Dates from the 12th century and has the appearance of a medieval fortress. Sitting atop Terreiro da Sé in the historical heart of Porto. The interior deserves a whole chapter on art history in itself, but the highlights include the silver altar of the Blessed Sacrament chapel. The alter is a masterpiece of Portuguese jewellery, depicting several biblical episodes and characters. It contains over 566 kilos of silver.
Igreja de São Francisco ( The Gold Church)
If you only have time to visit one of Porto’s churches then I would recommend this one. The richness of the gilded woodcarvings inside the church is amazing. It is the only gothic church in the city. Construction took place between 1383 and 1410. Throughout the centuries the church underwent numerous renovations. There is more than 200 kilos of gold on the main altar, pillars and statues. The star attraction is the Tree of Jesse which takes the genealogy of Jesus as its theme showing his descent from the kings of Judah and Israel. Craftsmen carved and painted the gilded tree between 1718 and 1721.
Igreja dos Carmelitas
Igreja dos Carmelitas is the church on the left of the picture above, and was built between 1619-1628. The interior of the church contrasts with its simple exterior. Highlights include the magnificent gilded woodwork of the alters. The tower used to be on the other side. It was transferred to its current position in 1768 to facilitate the construction of another church beside it, Igreja do Carmo.
Igreja do Carmo
A lovely example of Portuguese Baroque. The building dates to between 1756-1768, but the tiles (azulejos) on the outer wall of the church date from 1912.
Capela das Almas
On Rua Santa Catarina don’t miss the magnificent tile clad Capela das Almas. The tiles date from 1920’s and depict scenes from the life of St. Francis of Asisi and St. Catherine.
I hope this brief introduction to Porto’s churches most beautiful has inspired you. If you do visit please let us know your thoughts in the comments below.