The Porto Cathedral (Sé do Porto) is a historical landmark in the Northern city. Overlooking Porto, Portugal, this 12th century Romanesque structure is open to visitors. You can also discover its cloister and treasury. Plus, do not miss the great views from the square in front of it! Below is my guide to plan your visit.
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Why visit the Porto Cathedral?
The cathedral in Porto is one of the most famous buildings in town.
It is a beautiful structure built in the 12th and 13th century in Romanesque style. And its adjacent Gothic cloister dates back to the 14th century.
Plus it offers splendid views of the city. It is one of the best views in Porto.
It is quite a touristic spot so be careful around all the buses. But be sure not to miss it.
Below is a short video of my visit to the Porto Cathedral and its cloister. Dark nave, blue tiles and historical chapter rooms.
I am sorry my filming was not very good, but it still gives you an idea of what a visit might look like.
More details and photos after the planning tips.
PLANNING TIPS - Porto Se Cathedral
How to get to the Porto Cathedral
- Located at Terreiro da Sé, on the higher grounds of Porto
- You can reach it by walking from the upper platform of the Dom Luis Bridge on the North side or you can walk from the city center (quite steep)
- The Hop on Hop of Bus stops right next to the cathedral in Porto on its Blue Route. It is a great way to get around Porto and save your knees and muscles + it has another route that goes to the sea and beaches.
And if you are planning to trip around Portugal, check out my travel guide, it includes Porto and the cathedral:
Be overwhelmed by the beauty, not the planning!
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Visiting the Porto Cathedral
- Porto cathedral opening hours - 9am to 6:30pm for the cloister and the museum and to 7pm for the cathedral (5:30 in Winter)
- Porto cathedral access is free
- But to visit the Cloister the entrance is 3€
- Porto cathedral mass time - daily at 11am
- Latest opening hours in Portuguese on the Diocese wesbite
- Not many steps in the cloister - easy visit
- Where to stay in Porto? - Check out the best rated accommodations in Porto
Views from Largo da Sé & Se do Porto Entrance
Sé do Porto is located not far from the upper platform of the bridge.
You can arrive from there or walk you way up from the city.
The Cathedral was built in the 12th and 13th century in Romanesque style. And its adjacent Gothic cloister dates back to the 14th century. Of course, alterations were made later but it remained an imposing structure overlooking the city.
Located in the oldest part of town, the large square in front of the cathedral (Largo da Sé) was the heart of the city where shops were set up in the Middle Ages.
So the Porto Cathedral is part of the World Heritage Unesco classified site called Historic Center of Oporto.
As you can see below, it has 2 towers crowned with cupolas, but the façade is not very decorated, apart from the porch and the rose window.
So, it looks quite austere but it has seen some major events in the European history such as King's weddings or Baptisms.
From the front square (Largo da Sé), you can admire very nice views of the city. They were not my favorite, but it is a nice combination of rooftop level views and spotting major landmarks.
As you can see in the photo below the Clerigos tower (Torre de Clérigos) stands out in the panorama.
The entrance to the church itself is free. So don't miss what is considered as one of the top things to do in Porto.
It is very difficult to photograph this building. The nave is dark, tall and narrow (and I did not have my tripod with me).
However, the Porto cathedral interior has a special atmosphere. It is hard to describe.
The rose window remains of the Roman architecture. From the inside you can spot the pipe organ just in front of it with an arc shape around the window.
They sometimes organize concerts in the cathedral. The organ was built in 1985 by a German. You can learn more and listen to part of a concert on Gailatlarge.
Inside the Porto Cathedral, you can also admire the chapels.
There is one famous chapel. The apse was rebuilt in baroque style in the 17th century. You cannot miss it; the decor is really heavy.
Another one of the most famous chapels is the silver one.
The story says that at the beginning of the 19th century, when Napoleon's army entered Porto, a local decided to paint the silver to hide it.
They were fooled and the chapel was left untouched.
Cloister of the Se Cathedral in Porto
For a small fee, you can then visit the Gothic Cloister on the South side. It is not the best one I have visited in Portugal, but it has a lot of character with the beautiful Azulejos tiles.
Those blue tiles are typical of Portugal. You will see them often on your road trip. They were added to the cloister during the 18th century.
They depict religious stories.
Oporto Cathedral Sacristy
From the cloister you can enter the sacristy. It is decorated with a lot of Baroque pieces.
There is also a small chapel in the cloister. The side walls are all covered in Azulejos tiles which contrast with the wood.
Then you can take the Nasoni staircase to admire the cloister from the first level.
This is a renaissance staircase designed by Architect Nicolau Nasoni
From here you can see more Azulejos tiles and better appreciate the cupolas of the tower.
Looking down you see the quadrangle of the cloister.
Chapter room (Sala capitular)
From there you can enter the Chapter Room.
Sadly, there were not signs or explanations about all the tiles, paintings and rooms.
The ceiling was coffered and painted by Pachini in 1737 with allegories of moral values
For a fee you can also visit the Treasury with a small collection of Early Christian artifacts and art. For example, you will see a lot of silk ceremonial gowns, leather bounded bibles, crowns and altar pieces.
You will see a lot of gold and silver from South America.
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