Finding serenity and azulejos in Porto

Wanting to get away from the crowds by the river we headed uphill to visit Porto’s ‘fortress-like’ cathedral. The Cathedral of the Assumption of Our Lady dates from the 12th century and despite or perhaps because of the significant alterations in the 17th and 18th century it feels more like a church-fortress than a place of worship. The cloisters, the main purpose of our visit, date back to the 14th century and were wonderfully free of crowds on the day we visited.

We were here because I had read somewhere that the 18th century tile panels on the upper terrace of the cloisters were well worth seeing. They are rather lovely, and whilst not as incredible as our must-see in Porto tip, they are worth seeing if you love azulejos and have the time for a wander. Cloisters of Sé do PortoApparently this terrace was not used by the monks, but was a place for the guests of the Bishop to promenade and when not enjoying the views from the terrace to gaze down upon the monks working below. I have no idea if this is true, but if it is then it makes you wonder as to whom the Bishop entertained given the content of these two enormous panels by António Vidal. They are most unusual, and not at all religious.

They are also quite difficult to photograph in their entirety. I do have a few photographs, but I am going to keep you on tenterhooks and only share this glimpse of António’s panels, as today I want to focus on the panels in the cloisters (see below) which are the work of Valentim de Almeida.


His work is of course enhanced by its setting but it also feels far more in keeping with its religious surroundings than António’s panels upstairs. As Valentim de Almeida panels depict the Song of Songs and also the life of the Virgin Mary. It was almost serene on the day we were here, and we both appreciated the opportunity to enjoy some of Porto’s glorious tile panels without all the crowds.

Should you wish to follow in our footsteps then finding the cathedral is not difficult as it dominates the city skyline. Well worth climbing to just for the views of the city from the square in front. If you have time to explore inside it is free to enter the cathedral, and only a small entrance fee for the cloisters. Well worth it I thought. Porto's cathedralHowever if you don’t have time or are saving your euros then some of Almeida’s work can also be found on the north external wall of the cathedral. You are probably though thinking more about António Vidal and his panels on the terrace than Almeida’s creations! There was nothing lurid about António Vidal’s work, it simply felt odd with its combination of affluent countryside and mythological scenes. There were also countryside scene panels on one of the staircases. Not sure who created these panels but they felt as out of place as the ones on the terrace. All very beautiful and interesting, and we spent as much time looking at them as we did at the ones in the cloister, which is why I’ve split the posts. I appreciate though you are probably quite intrigued by now so here are a few of the staircase ones. 

Those of you who have been with me a while have probably guessed from the title and day of posting that this was meant to be a Six Word Saturday. However as I’ve failed yet again Debbie to keep my text to under six hundred words let alone six I thought perhaps I wouldn’t! Instead I’m hoping that Paula might accept my photographs and many words for her Thursday Special as not only are cloisters confined but they felt rather serene on our visit.

Author: BeckyB

It had been a good life walking, cooking, photographing, volunteering, blogging, and best of all spending time with MrB, family, & friends. Sadly it no longer is. Suddenly and unexpectedly I have become a widow.

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