Art and Architecture Porto

Finding serenity and azulejos in Porto

The first may be difficult, but the latter is easy!

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.

22 comments on “Finding serenity and azulejos in Porto

  1. Pingback: Discovering Porto’s panoramic views – It caught my eye in Portugal

  2. Pingback: Discovering Porto’s azulejos – It caught my eye in Portugal

  3. Ooooh, I see hundreds and hundreds photos of these and similar, if I ever make it to Portugal. 😮 Simply astonishing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Unexpected scenes on the terraces – It caught my eye in Portugal

  5. Beautiful, Becky. Thanks for the tips!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh I’m so glad you liked Paula and thank you for the link 😊 such a fabulous place. Would love to see what your camera would make of it

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: THURSDAY’S SPECIAL: PICK A WORD IN MAY – Y2 | Lost in Translation

  7. A fascinating building, Becky. I love old places.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Six words or six hundred…I don’t care as long as you continue posting these ABSOLUTELY MARVELOUS PHOTOS!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so so much Ron . . . don’t worry they will keep turning up. I’ve been going through my photos this morning, and realised I have enough material to last me until the autumn!!


  9. Beautiful. I love the two large shots inside the cloister. Another place to add to my list.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Snap! 🙂 🙂 We’ve both linked to Paula and Debs 🙂 🙂 I don’t know if you left a link on Paula’s but you didn’t with Debs, Becky. Clicking on your name doesn’t take me straight to this post, but rather to the opening page, which doesn’t include it. Having got all that off my chest (phew!) and hoping to be helpful… I love these cloisters. I can remember the serenity of being up there and looking down on the distant Douro. It’s one of my Porto moments I would have liked to have bottled. Happy Saturday!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Happy Saturday and snap to you too 😀
      It is gorgeous up there isn’t it 😊 and thanks for the reminder to update my home page. I hadn’t linked to Debbie’s post so knew about that but totally forgot to sort my home page. Thank goodness I’ve got you looking out for me xx


  11. John and Mary

    The thought that the blog was going to be birds and bees,rambling on grassed roads,pushing brambles away from ones face,and off the normal tourist eating trails,then a pleasant surprise.Do not know whether you covered Eiffels bridge in Oporto,the sea mists,and the amazing tripe dishes,of the north.
    The link between the tile production in the Iberian countries,and the Dutch base in Delft and the their well known blue,borrowed from the south.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So glad you like the change…. I do like to mix it up just occasionally 😊 the bridge post has yet to come along with a dozen or so other posts on Porto. My summer work!

      We do love the azulejos and their link to Delft…..if you search tiles on here you’ll discover a few more including some beautiful ones just a few miles from Olhão.


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