The 18th century Torre dos Clérigos is one of Porto’s most visible and memorable buildings, it even appears on the back of the blue cat! MrB and I had avoided it on our visit in March 2017 as it looked busy, but on my recent trip with a lovely friend we could not resist the climb.
This stunning example of baroque architecture is the headquarters of the Brotherhood of Clerics, a Christian mission committed to helping the clergy in sickness, poverty and death. In 1731 they commissioned Nicolau Nasoni, an Italian painter and architect, to design their new headquarters. The location was an awkward stretch of land on Rua de São Filipe de Nery, but Nasoni used it inventively to create a elliptic shaped church, an exuberant bell tower, and an infirmary for the clergy located between the two.
Before you visit the 76metre high tower you are encouraged to visit the upper balconies of the church and museum attached to the tower. Whilst we didn’t stay long in the museum rooms, we did lose track of time exploring the upper galleries of the church of the Brotherhood of Clerics.
You can visit the church without paying, simply walk past the entrance to the ticket office and head down the hill a little bit. You won’t have the opportunity to see the ceiling up close but you will still be able to appreciate this stunning building. And you may even be lucky enough to hear one of the organs.
The infirmary opened in 1755 and cared for sick clergy (whether the clergyman was a member of the Brotherhood or not) until the end of the 19th century. These days it is the Brotherhood museum, and currently houses an exhibition of 200 figures of Christ. Must admit I am not particularly interested in sculptures of Christ, however light and shadows will always catch my eye.
Most visit for the tower views, and on a clear day out of season they are well worth the climb. On weekends and in the peak tourist season I am not so sure. The steep narrow single staircase has 240 steps, and there are no easy passing points for when you meet the numerous other tourists going the other way!
If you do decide it is essential for you to visit even when it is busy, at least stop at the first external access point, the views from here are just as good as from the level above. The added bonus is that you miss the very narrow section and as you can just about see in the photograph below there likely to be far fewer, if any, people spending time at the clock balcony.
Too high for me and I certainly couldn’t cope with those stairs, but the views are amazing so thank you for sharing with us. I too think the shadow photos are the best.
Glad I’ve saved you the climb 😊 you can just visit the church now!
And thank you so much on the shadows and light, my friend was wondering what on earth I was excited about at time!
Lovely post, Becky! We did the tower and I enjoyed getting odd shaped photos through the windows but I think the church was closed. We certainly didn’t make it inside, so something for next time. 🙂 🙂 I love your shadow shots! Just looked out the window and it’s decidedly murky. Wish me luck!
Can’t see the hills at the moment from our place, so wishing you lots and lots of luck!!!
PS Think the shadow shots were my favourite too!
I loved it! A great way to have a overview on Porto. A must see!
I was so pleased we did it 😊
I read that there is a city building regulation that prevents anything in the Porto being built higher. I liked the little shop close by to the tower – ‘The Fantastic World of the Portuguese Sardine’, did you see it?
Interesting, would explain why there is nothing higher in vicinty. And yes we did 😁 the staff are so lovely in there. My friend succumbed to a purchase!
I almost did but luckily came to my senses just in time.
Not cheap are they!!
I love visiting churches and this one looks like a beauty, with the added bonus of a great view at the top of the tower.
The church took my breath away, it is so marvelous. And the tower is great but not when it is busy!!
That is on the list. Fabulous 🙂
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