I’m back with another series of photographs from my three week father/daughter trip to Portugal back in December 2022 – January 2023 (and yes, I know we’re in August now). So without further delay, I present you with a look inside the magnificent Porto Cathedral.
After making our way up from Lisbon, stopping at several cities along the way (at the bottom of the page, you can see all the other places we visited before we got here), I arrived in Portugal’s “Second City”, Porto and checked into the lovely Se Catedral Hotel Porto located in the city’s historic center – proclaimed a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996. We then proceeded to visit several of Porto’s main attractions including the enchanting Livraria Lello and the majestic Palácio da Bolsa. Now let’s get right to the city’s most important religious building – the Sé do Porto.
Built on the highest part of the city and overlooking the Douro River, the Porto Cathedral (known as the Sé) was originally built between the 12th and 13th centuries and would be constantly under works well until the 16th century (which explains why the Cathedral is a mix of architectural styles). King Dom João I married his queen, Filipa de Lencastre, in the Porto Cathedral on February 14, 1387.
The cathedral’s stocky silhouette is flanked by two square towers, giving it an impressive fortress-like design. Of equal note are the elaborate baroque doorway and striking 13th-century rose window which has survived the test of time.
At the forecourt of the cathedral (the Terreiro da Sé in Portuguese) you’ll have a beautiful view of the Dom Luís I Bridge, a double-deck metal arch bridge that spans the River Douro. At its construction, its 172 metres (564 ft) span was the longest of its type in the world when it was completed in 1886. The bridge was designed by German architect Téophile Seyrig (1843-1923), a disciple and business partner of French engineer Alexandre Gustave Eiffel (of Eiffel Tower fame).
Facing the cathedral, a large Baroque pillory (pelourinho) which symbolizes justice, stands in the center of the square. They were used to chain criminals, as a means of punishment and humiliation, in a tradition dating back to Roman times.
The cloisters are one of the finest features of the Sé. A mix of the original Gothic arches and vaulted ceilings along with much more recent Baroque azulejo tiles by Valentim de Almeida dating from the beginning of the 18th century.
The Capela de São Vicente features a beautiful baroque altarpiece in gilded woodwork.
The Sacristy has colorful paintings on the walls and ceilings, as well as rich furniture.
The Sala do Cabido (Chapter Room) has a beautifully painted ceiling featuring fourteen panels painted by Giovanni Battista Pichini.
The Porto Cathedral Treasury is one of the richest and most valuable collections of sacred art in Portugal.
It’s possible to climb one of the towers by a slim and steep staircase that offers a beautiful view of the historic center of Porto.
The cathedral’s terrace is decorated with Baroque azulejo tile panels by António Vidal.
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 Romanesque nave is rather narrow and is covered by barrel vaulting. It is flanked by two aisles with a lower vault and features a beautiful stained-glass rose window.
There’s a lot to see inside the Sé Catedral do Porto – you can easily spend a few hours inside (we did) and walk the Terreiro da Sé once outside. Don’t miss it should you find yourself in Porto (and you really should one day!).