JUL 26,2014 - JUL 26,2014 (1 DAYS)
Centro Histórico do Porto:
Attractions: Igreja de São Francisco (Church of Saint Francis), Museu da Venerável Ordem Terceira de São Francisco do Porto, Palacio de Bolsa, Praca Infante D. Henrique, Rua São Miguel, Miradouro da Viroia, Centro Português de Fotografia, Fonte da Porta do Olival, Torre dos Clérigos (Clérigos Tower), Igreja dos Clérigos, Jardim das Oliveiras, Igreja da Nossa Senhora do Carmo das Carmelitas + Igreja do Carmo, Praça de Gomes Teixeira, Praça / Jardim de Carlos Alberto.
Start: Sao Beneto Metro station (the yellow line).
End: Praca de Carlos Alberto.
Orientation: Our day is in the historic centre of Porto, declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Other sites in the historic centre are explored also in other itineraries of Porto.
Duration: 1 day.
Note: The itineraries " Around Porto Cathedral" and "From Moistero Serra do Pillar to Praca da Batalha" include, other sites of Porto Centro Storico. The itinerary of "From Moistero Serra do Pillar to Praca da Batalha" passes through several sites of this blog (Torre dos Clerigos, Praca de Carlos Alberto) but covers attractions not mentioned in this one (like Livraria Lello). Do not underestimate "From Moistero Serra do Pillar to Praca da Batalha" route: it "covers" several outstanding sites like: Ponte Luis I, Rua de Santa Catarina and Livraria Lello.
From Sao Beneto station head north on Av. Dom Afonso Henriques toward R. Corpo da Guarda, 20 m. Turn left onto R. Mouzinho da Silveira
550 m. Turn right onto Rua do Infante D. Henrique and the Igreja de São Francisco (Church of Saint Francis) will be on the right.
From the outside, this 13th century Gothic construction looks rather plain and lacking in architectural grandeur. But, step into the church and you’ll be gobsmacked by its extravagant and opulent interior. The church of São Francisco's Gothic exterior reflects the modest, earthy mentality of the Franciscan order, while the extreme wealth of the patrons influenced the interior's gilded styling. Certainly, this is the most extraordinary church interior in Porto and all of Portugal.
Climb the stairs and look backward to see the Douro river behind:
The Igreja de São Francisco (Church of Saint Francis) is the most famous and prominent Gothic monument in Porto. It is well noted for its outstanding Baroque inner decoration. The Franciscan Order was established in Porto around 1223. They began building the convent and a first, small church dedicated to Saint Francis of Assisi around 1244. In 1383, under the patronage of King Ferdinand I, the Franciscans began to build a more spacious church. This new structure was finished around 1425 and followed a relatively plain Gothic design. The general structure of the church has not been extensively altered, making São Francisco the best example of Gothic architecture in Porto. During the 15th and 16th centuries, prominent Porto families chose the Franciscan for their pantheon. The Chapel of St John the Baptist is a notable example, built in the 1530s for the Carneiro family in Manueline style, the Portuguese late Gothic. In the first half of the 18th century, most of the surfaces of the interior of the church, including walls, pillars, side chapels and roof, were covered with Portuguese gilt wood work (talha dourada) in Baroque style. Particularly notable are the many Baroque altarpieces of the apse chapels and the nave, which are among the best in Portugal. A fire, caused by the siege of Porto in 1832, destroyed the old cloisters. In its place, the Commercial Association of the city built the Stock Exchange Palace (Palácio da Bolsa), a magnificent example of 19th century Neoclassical architecture. 3.50 euros, fee includes catacombs and museum. No photos allowed - but visitors ignore the instructions...
Open: Nov-Feb 09.00 - 18.00, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Oct 09.00 - 19.00, Jul, Aug, Sep 09.00 - 20.00, Closed: 25 Dec.
The main façade of the Franciscan church has a large, elaborate rose window in Gothic style. This is the only original decoration of the main façade. The West portal is now a typical Baroque work, organised in two tiers, with solomonic columns and a statue of St Francis:
The South portal, facing the river, is still Gothic. The portal is stepped forward from the facade and has a triangular gable decorated with a pentagram. The opening is composed of a series of Gothic archivolts; the inner moulding is decorated with an arcade relief of Mudéjar (Islamic influenced) design:
Today, the church interior bedecked with luxurious gilded carvings and they are probably the most impressive and stunning in all of Portugal. On entering the church a statue of St. Francis of Assisi stands in an alcove on the right.
Whilst the Tree of Jesse is the main and the most important sightseeing attraction in São Francisco, there are many other interesting altars and chapels that should not be missed. The wood carvings inside the church are phenomenal !!! There is gold on the ceilings, alters, posts, statues, and just about everywhere but the floor. It is quite a dark church and a real treat on a hot day as it is cool inside..:
The most famous altarpiece of the Church of São Francisco is the “Tree of Jesse”, from 1718. The piece represented all generations of Jesse and king David to Jesus Christ. São Francisco’s Tree of Jesse was carved between 1718 and 1721. A popular Bible teaching during that time was Christ’s genealogy, in particular, showing his descent from the Kings of Judah and Israel. Before literacy was common amongst people, these teachings were very often expressed as biblical events in stained-glass windows or elaborate carvings such as the Tree of Jesse. The Tree of Jesse is believed to have been adapted from an earlier piece of work. Carved in multi-colored wood, it shows the figures of the twelve Kings of Judah connected by the branches of the tree which sprouts from a reclining Jesse of Bethlehem. At the top of the tree is Jesus Christ with the Virgin Mary and Joseph. This polychromed woodwork was carved by Filipe da Silva and Antonio Gomes:
On the third leg of the church, an altarpiece carved white and gold invocation to St. Louis King of France on the Epistle side and St. Margaret Cortona on the Gospel side:
Accessed the side doors of the nave - the Chapel of Our Lady of Sorrows:
Downstairs you can visit the crypt the tombs of local citizens, mostly from 19th century. Below the church's three interior chapels, catacombs hold tombs for members of the Franciscan order as they await judgment day. Discreetly tucked in a corner of the crypt, in front of an hellish door to nowhere lies a glass, grated window in the floor allowing visitors to view the piles of human bones below their feet.
Museu da Venerável Ordem Terceira de São Francisco do Porto:
House of Dispatch (Casa do Despacho) - Sessions room with wooden ceiling:
The Saint Mother - Portuguese School , 16-17th century:
Exit San Francisco church to Rua do Infante Dom Henrique and turn left (north) to Rua Ferreira Borges passing through Palacio de Bolsa on your left and Praca Infante D. Henrique on your right (browsed at the "Ribeira (Porto Riverfront): From Rua da Bainharia to Praca da Ribeira" blog / itinerary):
We climb the whole road of Rua Ferreira Borges. Note at No. 57 an interesting ceramics shop:
At the end we turn left to Rua de Belmonte. From here we practice a few steep climbs. On your left Teatro de Marionetas do Porto, Rua das Flores 22. Opening hours: Monday - Saturday: 11.00 - 13.00, 14.00 - 18.00. 3 euros. See current events at: http://marionetasdoporto.pt/ .
In the next intersection we choose the right "leg" of the steep climbing Rua das Taipas. Turn left to Rua São Miguel. The street of San Miguel was one of the main streets of the Jewish Quarter created in 1386 by order of king Joao I. This was the fourth, the last and most famous Jewish quarter of Porto and has existed for 111 years, between 1386 and 1496. Situated within the perimeter walls of the in the Muralhas Fernandinas (medieval, outer walls of Porto) in the space of the Vitoria quarter. By command of King Manuel I in 1496, the Portuguese Jews were forced, within a year, to convert to Christianity or leave the country. This resulted in the fact that the area of the former Jewish quarter was almost deserted. At the top end of Rua São Miguel stands Paroquia De Nostra Senhora da Vitoria:
Before you enter the church look, on your left, at house No. 4 to see the beautiful ceramic tiles. During the Siege of Porto, to avoid vandalism and looting that has undergone the Monastery of São Bento da Vitória, were removed some tiles that represent episodes from the life of Our Lady and of everyday life in general, and placed in front of the House in the Street São Miguel, in the n. ° 4, classified as a Public Interest:
At the end of Rua São Miguel turn right to Miradouro da Viroia to have a wonderful lookout over the Se' - Cathedral of Porto:
over Ponte Luis I:
Over Vila Nova de Gaia:
Bend slightly LEFT and continue climbing along Rua São Bento da Vitória. Pass Travessa São Bento on your left. Further, you pass Centro Português de Fotografia (CDF) on your left. Free entrance to the exhibitions centre. TUE - FRI 10.00 - 12.30 / 14.00 - 18.00. SAT and SUN and holidays: 15.00 - 19.00. The house was, originally, a prison (ceased being used as a prison in the 1970s) and is very impressive. Huge walls and enormous fences. There are also some wonderful views of Porto from the upper floors (albeit through windows with the old prison bars). The inner courtyard is used, Sundays summer mornings, for singing birds market (!). An excellent collection of old cameras. Temporary exhibitions changing every several weeks.
Nearby (in the square) is the Fonte da Porta do Olival. This fountain is located near one of the most iconic landmarks of Porto: Torre dos Clérigos:
Continue walking up along Rua São Bento da Vitória. Pass Rua dos Caldeireiros and Rua de Trás on your right, and TURN RIGHT to the narrow Rua da Assunção to face Torre dos Clérigos (Clérigos Tower), Rua Senhor Filipe de Nery. This great structure has become the symbol of the city. The Clérigos Church (Church of the Clergymen) is a Baroque church. The Clérigos Church was one of the first baroque churches in Portugal to adopt a typical baroque elliptic floorplan. The altarpiece of the main chapel, made of polychromed marble, was executed by Manuel dos Santos Porto. Construction of the church began in 1732 and was finished around 1750, while the monumental divided stairway in front of the church was completed in the 1750s. The main façade of the church is heavily decorated with Baroque motifs and was based on an early 17th-century Roman scheme. The central frieze above the windows present symbols of worship and an incense boat. The lateral façades reveal the almost elliptic floor plan of the church nave. The church was built for the Brotherhood of the Clérigos (Clergy) by Nicolau Nasoni, an Italian architect and painter who left an extensive work in the north of Portugal during the 18th century. In Porto, Nicolau Nasoni was also responsible for the construction of the Misericórida Church, the Archbishop's Palace and the lateral loggia of Porto Cathedral. He entered the Clérigos Brotherhood and was buried, at his request, in the crypt of the Clérigos Church, with the exact place remaining unknown.
The monumental tower of the church, located at the back of the building, was only built between 1754 and 1763. The tower is 75.6 metres high, dominating the city. There are 240 steps to be climbed to reach the top of its six floors.
If you want to see the beauty of Porto - you must climb to the top of "Torre dos Clérigos". It is one of the main attractions of Porto and it is beautiful. The climb is quite demanding. There is a 360º view of the city itself and the building is ancient and awesome inside and outside. Ticket: 3 euros.
See the sub-ordinate Tip about "Climbing the Torre dos Clerigos".
Walk down further a few steps along Rua Senhor Filipe de Nery to look at the Igreja dos Clérigos:
Return west along Rua Senhor Filipe de Nery back to Praca de Lisboa. With your back to the tower - on your right (north-west to the tower) is the Jardim das Oliveiras with the statue of the Bishop of Porto:
Cross from south to north the sophisticated Rua do Doutor Ferreira da Silva - lined with cafe's, boutiques and souvenirs stalls. Turn back to take another photo of the Torre dos Clerigos:
Walk along the Praça de Gomes Teixeira square from east to west (heading LEFT). Opposite you stands Igreja da Nossa Senhora do Carmo das Carmelitas glued with the adjacent Carmo church (Igreja do Carmo). with wonderful exterior ceramic tiles (Azulejos). With the face to both of them - the Carmelitas church is on the left (west) and the Carmo church is on the right (east). Its construction began in 1616 and was completed in 1628. The interior decoration had been completed only in 1650. The church belonged to the Carmelites convent. It was classified as a National Monument in 2013 and now occupied by the National Guard. The facade of granite ashlar, has three entries with round arches, surmounted by an equal number of niches with images of St. Joseph, St. Teresa of Jesus and Our Lady of Mount Carmel to the center. It has a bell tower on the left, clad in monochrome tiles of blue color, topped by a dome-shaped bulb.
The interior of the Church of the Carmelites is a Latin cross plan with a single nave with six side chapels and a narthex at the entrance. The sun coming from the south highlights the great gilded, Baroque and Rrococo style side-chapels and the altar. The design of the main altarpiece is the work of Joaquim Teixeira Guimarães and the execution of José Teixeira Guimarães.
The Carmo Church or Church of the Venerable Third Order of Our Lady of MountCarmel is closer is with Baroque / Rococo style and was built in the second half of the eighteenth century, between 1756 and 1768. It was designed by the architect José Figueiredo Seixas. This church is twinned with the Church of the Carmelites, the east side, forming one volume, though differing the two churches. It was also classified as a National Monument in 2013, in conjunction with the Church of the Carmelites.
The square with the fountain adjacent to the twin churches is Praça de Gomes Teixeira - popularly known as the Lions Square. It was called "Carmo Square" until 1835, the year that, by city council resolution, happened to be called "Square of volunteers Queen" and later changed to "University Square". In 1936 Porto Council adopted its current name in honor of Francisco Gomes Teixeira, an eminent mathematician and university professor. However, because of the Fountain of Lions, the broad square is commonly known as "Square of Lions".
Building of the University of Porto Rectory (Edifício Histórico da Universidade do Porto) in the square:
With your back to the Carmo and Carmelitas churches turn twice left. Coming from Praça de Gomes Teixeira turn RIGHT (north) to Rua Carlos Alberto. In the end of this road is Praça de Carlos Alberto and Jardim de Carlos Alberto. The name of the square is attributed to Charles Albert, King of Piedmont and Sardinia, which, thrown from his throne in 1849, sought refuge in the city of Porto. In the twentieth century, in year 1928, was inaugurated in the Praca de Carlos Alberto the Monument to the deads of the Great War (WW I), designed by Henrique Moreira - succeeding an earlier statue that did not match the taste of the Portuenses.
On May 14, 1958, about 200,000 people waited General Humberto Delgado, candidate for the presidency of the republic, on the Sao Bento train station, and accompanied him In a parade to Carlos Alberto Square, above the Luso Café. Therein, in his speech, said: "My heart will be at Porto". It was the biggest flood of people ever seen in this square. Monument in honor of General Humberto Delgado, by the sculptor José Rodrigues, inaugurated on May 14, 2008:
In 2006, the "Quarter of Carlos Alberto" was selected by Porto Vivo project and the Urban Rehabilitation Society as its first urban unit to be restored rehabilitated in an effort to engage more people and commerce to downtown Porto. Every Saturday the Praca / Jardim de Carlos Alberto functions as an hub for Mercado Porto Belo (MPB): vintage, antiques, handicrafts, second-hand items, old books and newspapers, art and bio-food. Open: Saturdays 12.00 - 19.00.
Climb of the Clerigos Tower:
The climb up is a bit tiring and involves narrow, claustrophobic hallways lined with steep steps (openings along the way so you don't feel closed in). 206 steps. On the way up to the top you get a close-up view of the mighty bells that hang within the tower. The scenery at the very top is breathtaking, with a 360 degrees view of Porto, the Douro river below and the Igreja dos Clerigos church adjacent to the tower.
€3 euros - adult, €2 - senior or student.
Tip: Go there late afternoon and watch the sunset - unforgettable experience !
Warning: In case there are a lot of people it will take you some time to climb it (the stairs are very narrow). Worse than that: the top balcony can be full and heavily packed (like in the Vatican St. Peter Basilica Dome).