Capela de São Pedro de Balsemão
Church in Lamego
The Capela de São Pedro de Balsemão or Chapel of São Pedro de Balsemão, despite its relatively recent Baroque facade, is one of Portugal’s oldest churches. Its history may date back to the 7th century when it could have served as a sanctuary for the Visigoths. However, it is more likely that the chapel originated in the 9th or 10th century during the reconquests.
While the layout of the chapel is believed to have remained unchanged, its present appearance is a fusion of various styles and influences from the intervening centuries. Upon closer inspection, some of the stones, including those used in the altar, reveal their origins as remnants of a nearby Roman villa, with some still bearing original inscriptions.
Noteworthy features include the elaborate Corinthian pillars supporting the arches dividing the apse. However, the 14th century Gothic sarcophagus of the then Bishop of Porto, D. Afonso Pires, takes center stage.
In the 17th century, the chapel was incorporated into the neighboring manor by the local landowner, who restyled it to match his residence. Additionally, the chapel served as the family pantheon during this period.