Porto is full of treasures waiting to be discovered. As you stroll around the city streets, you will find countless charming monuments of the baroque era. Enjoy your visit to the northern capital of the country and learn more about this artistic style.
The history of the baroque
Symbol of the XVIII century in the country, the baroque stood out from the art of other territories by its authentic exoticism. In Portugal, the gilded woodcarving beside the blue tile gave rise to an unusual expression of the baroque.
Benefiting from the economic peak of the time – as a result of the discovery of gold mines, precious stones in Brazil and of woods in the new continents – palaces, churches and monasteries were filled with movement and colour.
One of the most salient features of the new style is the use of polychrome and the exuberance of the shapes. The combination of gold coatings with painting and tile created spaces of unforgettable beauty. The gilded woodcarving, one of the most vivid expressions of the baroque in Porto, reaches its maximum splendour in the altarpieces of the St. Francisco and Santa Clara churches.
Discover Porto's treasures
Baroque in Porto manifests itself in many buildings of civil and religious architecture. The city benefited especially from this baroque trend because it was the place where the Italian painter-decorator Nicolau Nasoni lived, who fell in love with the north of the country and whose imaginative and scenic work marked the architecture and the baroque ornamentation in the region in a unique and surprising way.
Throughout the XVII and XVIII centuries, the city resembled a “yard” of artists and artisans, who produced an important number of works of high aesthetic value. In your tour of Porto, you can't miss these 12 monuments that mark the history of baroque architecture.
Visit the Cathedral (Sé). Built in the XII century, this building has undergone several modifications in the baroque style, such as the magnificent altarpiece of the main chapel. Stop in front of the great elegance of the Paço Episcopal, a property of the XVIII century made by Nasoni. The Italian was an expert working with granite in undulating movements.
In the northern capital of Portugal, you can enjoy the Igreja de Santa Clara – a harmonious combination of gilded woodcarving and tile –, Ordem Terceira or Igreja de Santo Ildefonso, monuments rich in gilded woodcarving and tiles from the XVIII century.
In the baixa, the heart of the liveliest area in terms of restaurants and bars, you will find the impressive façade of the church Igreja do Carmo, whose exterior is covered in blue and white tiles, you will also be impressed by the Igreja e Torre dos Clérigos, masterpiece of Nicolau Nasoni that in 2013 celebrated its 250 anniversary. Climb the 240 steps of this monument and admire one of the most beautiful panoramic views of Porto.
Go down to the waterfront of the city. Nasoni also designed Igreja da Misericórdia of Porto, in the Rua das Flores, in the historic city centre. In this area, classified as world heritage by UNESCO since 1996, it is also worth peeking into the Igreja de São Francisco de Assis, whose interior is covered in gilded woodcarving and rococo.
The Casa Museu Guerra Junqueiro is situated in a noble house of baroque tracings. It intends to recreate the private atmosphere of the poet's house and it also deserves to be visited. As well as the Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Esperança, project that some attribute to Nicolau Nasoni and the Palácio de S. João Novo.