Tuesday February 5th 2019 | Porto

Clérigos Tower

The most important monument in Porto

Clérigos Tower


No matter where you go in Porto, there is one monument that is always present in every corner of the city. This is the Clérigos Tower, which has stood like an old guard on the Douro River for over 250 years.

It was built in the mid-18th century by the Italian architect Nicolau Nasoni, who also designed many other buildings in Porto, such as the Carmen, Misericórdia and Santa Marinha churches, the Bishop's Palace, and the renovation of Sé. In all of them he left his richly decorated Rococo Baroque style.

However, without detracting from any of these important works, the jewel in the crown is undoubtedly the Clerics' Church, especially its tower, which for a long time was the tallest building in Portugal. At least, this is what Nasoni himself must have thought, since he was buried in this church, and the Portuguese agree, dedicating a commemorative coin to him in 2013.

Another interesting fact about this building is its location. For a long time, the city walls ran through the same area, rising from today's Praça da Liberdade towards the Portuguese Center of Photography, where the Porta do Olival was located. It was there, outside the city limits, that those condemned to death were executed, which is why the place was called the Hill of the Hanged.

The uses of this tower are also interesting. Apart from the religious and protective functions of the clergy who gave it its name, the tower was and still is an instrument for measuring time. Nowadays, the clock is placed on the facade, but originally dry gunpowder was used to signal midday to the harbor dwellers. It was also a telegraph station, a reference point for ships sailing on the Douro, a strategic point in battles and political conflicts, and a symbol of the city.

Since there's so much talk about it, I'm sure you're thinking that the views and photos from the top must be great, so get ready: climbing its more than 76-meter height will cost you 240 steps, on top of the €5 entrance fee. And if you just want to see it and get an explanation from us, we do that every day as part of our free walking tour of Porto.

We look forward to seeing you under the green umbrella!

PS: Did you know that in 1917 two Spanish acrobats Puertullanos, father and son, successfully climbed the Clérigos Tower in front of a huge audience?

Tags: english , monuments , Porto