Serra do Pilar Monastery

Monastery in Porto

Serra Do Pilar Monastery,Porto
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Rodrigo Tetsuo Argenton

The Serra do Pilar Monastery, located in Porto, is an architectural gem and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Situated on a hill overlooking the Douro River and the city of Porto, it offers breath-taking panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

The monastery was built in the 16th century as a part of the defensive system of Porto. Its construction began in 1538 under the supervision of the military engineer and architect Filippo Terzi, who was inspired by the design of the Church of San Giovanni in Rome. The monastery was completed in 1670.

One of the most distinctive features of the Serra do Pilar Monastery is its circular design. It is a prime example of the circular Renaissance architecture known as the rotunda. The monastery’s circular shape symbolizes the crown of thorns worn by Jesus during the crucifixion. The central space, called the Chapter House, is adorned with beautiful ornamental details.

The interior of the monastery is equally impressive. The church within the complex showcases intricate woodwork, exquisite tile panels, and stunning frescoes. The main altar is adorned with gilded decorations and religious sculptures.

Aside from its architectural significance, the Serra do Pilar Monastery has served various purposes throughout history. It was used as a military barracks, a hospital, and even a school. Today, it stands as a cultural and historical landmark, drawing visitors from all over the world.

In addition to exploring the monastery itself, visitors can enjoy the spectacular views from its terrace. The panoramic vista encompasses the city of Porto, the Douro River, and the iconic Dom Luis I Bridge. The combination of architectural grandeur and scenic beauty makes the Serra do Pilar Monastery a must-visit destination in Porto, providing a captivating glimpse into the city’s rich history and offering a memorable experience for all who visit.

The Serra do Pilar Monastery appears in our Complete Guide to Visiting Porto!

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Visiting Serra do Pilar Monastery

Address: Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar, Largo Aviz, Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal
Duration: 20 minutes

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