Patriarchal See of Viseu
The Patriarchal See of Viseu, Northern Portugal is a magnificent display of several architectonic styles as the construction works lasted for many centuries.
Writing about the Patriarchal See of Viseu brought back to my mind some moments long gone. It is funny to realize how our memory pay us tricks and, strange as it may seem, mine brought back to live the sweet and delicious smell of the roasted veal I used to enjoy in a small restaurant nearby the Cathedral every time I visited my father’s hometown. However, this treasured memory vanished as soon as I recalled how my feet were killing me at my cousins marriage that took place at this imposing monument set beside the former Bishop’s Palace that nowadays houses the Grão Vasco Museum and in front of the Misericórdia Church of Viseu.
The wonderful Patriarchal See of Viseu
Well putting personal considerations aside, let me tell you that the Cathedral is a magnificent display of different architectonic styles as the construction works lasted for centuries and the building suffered several renovations. Thus, traces of Romanesque, Gothic, Manueline, Renascence and Baroque styles are visible along with a touch of bold Modernity in the high altar.
According to archaeological evidences an Early Christian Church dating from the 5th and 6th centuries, during the Suebi domination, occupied the site where it stands today the Patriarchal See. The former building was almost entirely destroyed, probably during the Moorish occupation, and the new one began to be built in the 12th century. The Cathedral was enlarged during the Middle Age, granting it the three-aisles configuration and also some of the Gothic chapels in the cloisters.
During the 16th century, under the orders of Bishop Diogo Ortiz de Vilhena the building suffered new improvements, including a new façade and the impressive rib vaulting of the aisles with ribs in the shape of ropes and knots, referring to the Discovery Age. The painted altarpieces that were disassembled and are now exhibited at Grão Vasco Museum also date from the first half of this century. While these works followed the Manueline style, the new cloister erected according to the wishes of Bishop Manuel da Silva was designed in the Renaissance style.
The outer façade has two towers that recall the original romantic style, yet only one of them dates from the 13th century. In 1635 the left tower was knocked down by a violent storm that also destroyed the Manueline façade. Therefore the architect João Moreno was in charged to build a new one. The new façade resembles a Mannerist altarpiece and presents some niches housing the images of the Four Evangelists, the Holy Mary and saint Theotonius.
During the Baroque period the Cathedral was richly decorated with an organ, pulpits, altarpieces and the magnificent tiles that still charm visitors.
Patriarchal See of Viseu gallery