JUL 22,2014 - JUL 22,2014 (1 DAYS)
Start: Praca do Batalha - Batalha Square.
End: Porto Se' - Cathedral square - Tourist Information Office.
Duration: 3-4 hours.
Orientation: This itinerary fits perfectly people who arrive to Porto during the late morning hours or around the midday. It can be combined with another 1/2 day route: Centro Histórico of Porto: From Rua da Bainharia to Praca da Ribeira. The second half of the day is better since the Cathedral is better lighted during the afternoon hours.
Distance: 3 - 4 km.
Batalha Square (Praça da Batalha) is a historical public square located in the centre of Porto. It is a pleasant place in which to rest, with several benches and cafés. The name Batalha (Battle) comes from a 10th-century battle fought between the Moorish forces of Al-Mansur Ibn Abi Aamir and the inhabitants of Porto, which resulted in the defeat of the latter and the destruction of the city. The Batalha area has been an important cultural spot for centuries. In 1794, it was here that the Oporto's opera house, the Royal Theatre of São João, was built. The theatre still exists, although the original building had to be replaced in 1908 following a fire. Batalha Square was an important traffic hub until recently, but since the 1980s it has been mostly pedestrianised. The square is also a touristic spot thanks to its monuments, cafés and hotels. You can rest at the courtyard in front of the Santo Ildefonso church (see below), or at the Batalha Square itself.
"Ardina" (newspaper seller) statue in Praca da Batalha:
The square was urbanised in 1861, when a statue of King Pedro V of Portugal, standing over a pedestal, was erected right in front of Batalha Palace. The statue is a work by sculptor Teixeira Lopes (father):
Another important landmark of the square is the Batalha Palace, Palácio da Batalha, a good example of a late 18th-century urban palace of Porto. The main façade, in a style intermediate between baroque and neoclassical, carries the coat-of-arms of the former owners (Silvas, Guedes, Melos e Pereiras). During the Siege of Porto (1832) the owners left the building and it was used for several purposes, including blood hospital. The interior has been stripped of its decoration still in the 19th century. Nowadays it is used as post office. Located on the eastern side of the square.
Another important cultural venue of the square is the Cinema Batalha, Cine-Teatro Batalha - a landmark of Portuguese Art Deco architecture dating from 1947. Located in the eastern side of the square.
The square also includes the São João National Theatre - Teatro Nacional São João (1911-1920) in the south side of the square. A building with a French Renaissance look, inspired by the Louvre and the Paris Opera. The city's most important cultural events and shows take place here:
Santo Ildefonso church, Igreja de Santo Ildefonso, fronted, garrisoned tiles designed by Jorge Colaco (1932). Located on the north side of the square. Built between 1724 and 1730, this hilltop Baroque church is distinguished by its lovely blue and white tile panels that cover the façade. Its oval interior has Neoclassical side altars and a retable on the main alter by Nicolau Nasoni, who later built Clerigos Tower nearby.
We leave the Praca da Batalha from its western side and walk down along Rua de Madeira. We descend the stairs to get a wonderful view of Estação São Bento, St. Beneto station.
We arrive to Praça Almeida Garrett. The square is named after the poet, dramatist and parliamentary speaker João Baptista da Silva Leitão de Almeida Garrett, born in Porto in 1799.
View of the west and north sides of the square with the Church Congregados right:
right: Sao Baneto station:
Igreja (church) dos Congregados: The Igreja dos Congregados was built in the late seventeenth century on the site where there was a chapel dedicated to St. Anthony. It may not be the most famous or beautiful catholic church in Porto, but certainly is among the most visited ones. Almost in front of the São Bento Railway Station, the church was built in 1703, replacing a chapel dated as far back
as 1662. Beautiful tiles, in the Portuguese tradition, decorate its façade. It is near everything and a short visit is strongly recommended. Beautiful church, very interesting structure, inside is lovely:
Estação São Bento, St. Beneto station. São Bento Railway Station was inaugurated in 1916. The historical station is known for its marvelous tiles (Azulejos) panels that depict scenes of the History of Portugal. It remains in regular use as a railway station, served by trains operated by Comboios de Portugal. The name of the station derives from a Benedictine monastery built on this spot in the 16th century. The monastery fell victim of a fire in 1783, was later rebuilt, but was in a grave state of disrepair at the end of the 19th century. King Carlos I laid the first stone of the station in 1900. The project was entrusted to Porto architect José Marques da Silva, who designed a building under the influence of French Beaux-Arts architecture. The station serves as the main terminus for Porto's suburban railways lines, and doesn't see much other service. It is also the western terminus for trains on the scenic Douro line to/from Pocinho. All trains leaving Sao Bento call at Campanhã as their next station:
See Tip below - about Sao Beneto station ceramic tile panels.
Leaving the São Bento Train Station,with your back to the train station and your face to the São Bento Metro station - turn LEFT. Descend along Praça Almeida Garrett to the south and continue climbing Avenida Dom Afonso Henriques (southward) when the old Porto walls on your left.
You pass the Information Tourist Office onyour right:
Cross Rua Saraiva de Carvalho, on your left, and continue climbing until you see, on your right the Porto Se' (Cathedral).
First, you see, on your right, the Casa Museu Guerra Junqueiro. A big mansion from the 18th century, decorated with the belongings of the famous Portuguese Poet from the 19th/20th century. It also houses temporary exhibitions. The palace dates back to 1730 and was built in Baroque style by Nicolau Nasoni. It is located at Rua de D. Hugo, nº 15. In 1940 the estate was donated by his daughter to honor him and it later became a museum. Exhibited in the museum is a collection of religious art, ceramics and furniture etc. We shall visit it later and display its photos after visiting the Porto Cathedral.
Before you enter the Cathdral square - you climb (after turning right from the main street) a little to the Calçada Vandoma and see, on your right, the statue of Vimara Peres. Vímara Peres (Galicia, circa 820– Guimarães, 873), was a ninth-century Galician nobleman and the first ruler of the County of Portugal:
Opposite the statue of Vimara Peres - there is a beautiful fountain, Chafariz do Anjo San Miguel - located right next to the Se' Cathedral, in the place where was the Arch of Vandoma, one of the gateways to the primitive city walls. It was built in the eighteenth century by Nasoni and funded by the City Council. The source is a monument by itself, since it has a kind of wrought iron latticework marble reliefs embedded in the top of the reservoir. It is crowned by the statue of St. Michael.
The northern walls of the Se' (Cathedral) are adjacent to the fountain structure and foundation. Baroque loggia to the lateral façade:
The "Terreiro da Sé" is the name by which we know the large square where is the Se' (Cathedral) of Porto. Its unique location (is at the highest point of the city) to enjoy a great view of both the river Douro and the rest of the city. The "Terreiro da Sé" (the Cathedral square) is very impressive by its size, as its contrast to the narrowness of the streets that had risen around. The truth is that it seems incredible that in a place with so dense urban buildings - there is such an extensive square surrounded by some buildings with such large dimensions. We've reached the "Terreiro da Sé" from the modern expansion of Porto - so the contrast should not be so great. The "Terreiro da Sé" not only houses the cathedral ("Se") of Porto, but is surrounded by other important and imposing buildings: - Museum of Sacred Art Be Porto, Palace (" Paco ") Episcopal, Fundación María Isabel Guerra Junqueiro, Arqueossitio (archaeological remains):
From left to right: Old Town Hall, Porto Cathedral and the Chapter House:
Episcopal Palace (white building in the background), in Terreiro Cathedral. Not open to the public:
The Chapter House, Casa do Cabido - glued to the Cathedral:
The Pelourinho do Porto (pillory) and the medieval tower house in Terreiro Cathedral, opposite the Cathedral of Porto:
The Porto Cathedral (Sé do Porto), (Sedes Episcopalis which means Bishop’s Residence in Latin) located in the historical centre of the city of Porto, is one of the city's oldest monuments and one of the most important Romanesque monuments in Portugal. The current Cathedral of Porto underwent construction around 1110 under the patronage of Bishop Hugo and was completed in the 13th century. The cathedral is flanked by two square towers, each supported with two buttresses and crowned with a cupola. The façade lacks decoration and is rather architecturally heterogeneous. It shows a Baroque porch and a beautiful Romanesque rose window under a crenellated arch, giving the impression of a fortified church. The Romanesque nave is rather narrow and is covered by barrel vaulting. It is flanked by two aisles with a lower vault. The stone roof of the central aisle is supported by flying buttresses, making the building one of the first in Portugal to use this architectonic feature. This first Romanesque building has suffered many alterations but the general aspect of the façade has remained Romanesque. Around 1333 the Gothic funerary chapel of João Gordo was added. João was a Knight Hospitaller who worked for King Dinis I. This was followed by a Gothic cloister, which was added during the reign of King John I and is notable for its delightful baroque tiles by Valentim de Almeida, depicting the life of the Virgin Mary. King John I was in fact married here to his English princess, Philippa of Lancaster, in 1387, while one of Portugal’s most important figures, Henry the Navigator, was baptized at its altar. It was during the 18th century, however, that the Se Cathedral of Porto underwent its most significant changes, succumbing to the rich Baroque embellishments that were added to so ecclesiastical buildings of the time. Structurally these included a new main portal and an elegant loggia to the lateral façade, along with a new apse which was decorated with baroque wall paintings by Nasoni and choir stalls. One of the most notable additions during the Baroque period was the altarpiece of the Chapel of the Holy Sacrament, which depicts a beautifully elaborate scene made entirely of silver. Designed by Portuguese artists, this was completed during the late 1800s, as were the three red marble holy-water fonts, supported by a statue. The baptistery also showcases an interesting bronze bas-relief by Antonio Teixeira Lopes which depicts Christ’s baptism by John the Baptist. In 1772 also a new main portal substituted the old Romanesque original and the tower cupolas were altered. Around 1732 Italian architect Nicolau Nasoni added an elegant Baroque loggia to the lateral façade of the Cathedral. During the War of the Oranges whilst the battle at Amarante was taking place a group of Spanish soldiers briefly took control of the Cathedral before being overcome by the locals of the town. A marble plaque with a Magnetite backing now hangs up behind the altar in order to remind everyone of those who lost their lives whilst regaining control of the chapel. The Se Cathedral of Porto resembles to some extent a fortress, with its rather austere exterior, imposing towers and large rose window. It is visible from many locations throughout the city and is very much a focal point both in the everyday lives of Porto’s residents and within the busy itineraries of the thousands who flock to discover the ancient treasures of Porto every year:
The interior was also altered during the baroque era. In one of the chapels there is a magnificent silver altarpiece, built in the second half of the 17th century by Portuguese artists. Also in the 17th century the Romanesque apse (which had an ambulatory) was torn down and a new one was built in baroque style, later decorated with new wall paintings by Nasoni and choir stalls. The altarpiece of the chapel, designed by Santos Pacheco and executed by Miguel Francisco da Silva between 1727 and 1729, is an important work of Portuguese Baroque. The three red marble holy-water fonts, supported by a statue, date from the 17th century. The baptistery contains a bronze bas-relief by António Teixeira Lopes, depicting the baptism of Christ by John the Baptist. The South transept arm gives access to the Gothic cloister, which is decorated with baroque Azulejos by Valentim de Almeida (between 1729 and 1731). They depict the life of the Virgin Mary and Ovid's Metamorphoses. The remains of the Early-Romanesque ambulatory contain a few sarcophagi. The terrace is decorated with tile panels by António Vidal. The coffered ceiling of the chapter house was painted with allegories of moral values by Pachini in 1737. Free admission. Non commercial photos without flash light and tripod are allowed. Opening hours: Mon-Sat: 8.40 -12.30; 14.30 -18.00. Sunday and public holidays: 8.30-12.30; 14.30-18.00. From April to October the Cathedral closing time is at 19:00. Cloister - Opening hours:
Mon-Sat: 9.00-12.15; 14.30-17.15. Sunday and public holidays: 14.30-17.15. From April to October the closing time is at 18:00.Tickets: € 3,00 (cloister only):
The beautiful arches of the Cathedral-Sé are the great medieval symbol of Porto:
The Se' interior:
Gothic cloisters of the Cathedral. Admission - 3 euros. The Gothic cloister, was built in the 14th century. It is quite interesting; many walls are covered with magnificent blue and white tiles, the sacristy is beautifully decorated, and a couple of the chapels worth a visit: Capela S. João Evangelista and Capela de S. Vicente with its golden altarpiece:
Houses in front of Se Cathedral. Notice facades decorated with tiles. These are examples of many other old buildings in Porto:
Besides the magnificent cathedral, there is also one of the most beautiful viewpoints of Porto. Here you can see Vila Nova de Gaia and its cellars and the Duoro river:
Leave the "Terreiro da Sé" (Cathedral square) from its western exit - Calçada de Dom Pedro Pitões and Rua S. Sebastiano.In the intersection of Rua S. Sebastiao and Rua de Hugo note two interesting sites: tower and fountain. On your left - Torre Medieval do Porto - also known as Porto city tower. The tower remained hidden for long centuries among the houses that populate the Cathedral square. During the 1940s, there was an attempt to give greater dignity to the building of the Cathedral and "clean" the surrounding area, resulting in uncovering a medieval tower. As it was a typical example of medieval buildings that preserved the appearance of strength, it was decided to preserve it, moving it about 15 feet from its original location. The building was rebuilt under the guidance of architect Rogério de Azevedo which added a balcony in stone Gothic feature:
South to the Cathedral square - do not miss the Chafariz (Fountain) da Rua Escura. It was built in the seventeenth century in granite. Has two female figures on both sides of the pipe where the water come out. In the centre - the figure of a pelican. At the top of the fountain you can see a decorative frieze with the shield of the royal arms:
Walk along Rua de Dom Hugo, first, southward, then eastward and at last north-east. You see the south walls of Casa-Museu Guerra Junqueiro. The stairs on your right are the Escadas das Verdades:
Opening hours: Monday _ Saturday: 10.00 - 17.30, Sunday: 10.00 - 12.30, 14.00 - 17.30. Open in holidays times. Free admission at weekends. Weekday - 2,20€:
We made a round route and encircled the whole Cathedral square or hill. Now, we are back in the Calçada Vandoma - where we started our visit of the Cathedral hill. We return to the Tourist Information Office (built over the ruins of a medieval tower, the Casa dos 24), and from there we descend to historical centre of Porto, to the Ribeira (Riverfront) area (see details in a separate itinerary of 1/2 day in Ribeira (Porto Riverfront): From Rua da Bainharia to Praca da Ribeira.
Estação São Bento. São Bento Railway Station: The most notable aspect of São Bento Station is the large, magnificent tile panels in the vestibule. The tiles numbers are 20 thousand, date from 1905–1916 and are the work of Jorge Colaço, the most important azulejo painter of the time. The first tiles were put up on 13 August 1905.
The panels depict landscapes, ethnographic scenes as well as historical events like the Battle of Valdevez (1140), the meeting of the knight Egas Moniz and Alfonso VII of León (12th century), the arrival of King John I and Philippa of Lancaster in Porto (1387) and the Conquest of Ceuta (1415):