Church of the Brotherhood of the Clergy (
Clérigos  Church)


Church of the Brotherhood of the Clergy (Clérigos Church) is part of an architectural complex in Porto consisting of a church, a tower and a museum.  Built by the Brotherhood in the 18th century, it is one of the main points of interest in Porto.  The church is famous for the unique feature of a gallery that surrounds the entire nave.  The museum contains many beautiful religious artefacts.


The architectural complex of Clérigos, considered a National Monument since 1910, is one of the main points of interest in Porto and consists of the church, its tower and a museum.

The project to build the church, which was designed by Nicolau Nasoni, Italian architect and painter, was approved in December 1731, with the work starting in April 1732.  The church was the first church in Portugal with an ellipse-shaped plan.  It also has the unique feature of a gallery surrounding the entire nave, making it possible to observe the church as a whole.  It contains numerous gilded carvings which are enhanced by the entrance of light through the windows. The construction of the church itself was finished in 1749, although completing the fixtures and the  enlargement of the chapel would prolong the work, with it finally being completed in 1750.  The stairway in front of the church was finished in 1763.

The main façade of the church has a central frieze above the windows which incorporates symbols of worship and an indented broken pediment which is heavily decorated with garlands and shells which are baroque motifs. 

The church’s dome, which rests on six pillars, contains the coat of arms of the Brotherhood of the Clerics, carved in faux granite.  The church has four open lateral altars: The Blessed Sacrament, Our Lady of Sorrows, Saint Emygdius, and Saint Anne.  There are two pulpits while behind is the spacious, oblong-shaped chapel, embellished with a marble altar and a rococo-inspired altarpiece designed by Manuel dos Santos Porto which consists of a throne crowned by the image of the Patroness, Our Lady of the Assumption.  At each side of the altarpiece are two painted wooden sculptures of the co-patron saints of the Brotherhood of the Clerics, St. Peter ad Vincula and St. Philip Neri. 

The main chapel is adorned by the seats and the two organs of Iberian or "Portuguese" pipes, construction of which began simultaneously in the year 1774.  The seats were finished in 1777 and the organs in 1779.  The altarpiece of the main chapel is made of polychromed marble.

The monumental tower of the church is located at the back of the building.  It was built between 1754 and 1763 and was completed when the iron cross was placed on top and the image of St Paul was placed in the niche above the door.  The baroque decoration reflects the influence of the Roman Baroque, the actual design being inspired by Tuscan campaniles.  Standing 75.6 metres high, the tower dominates the city and has become the symbol of Porto.  It has six floors and visitors can climb to the top by going up the 240 steps.

Adjoined to the church and the tower is the House of the Brotherhood, which in 2014 became a museum and was opened to the public. The House of the Brotherhood was constructed between 1754 and 1758 and was where the Brotherhood of the Clerics had their private quarters.  Today these rooms contain a collection of artefacts consisting of paintings, sculptures, furniture and jewellery items dating from the 13th century.  Many of these items are displayed in the infirmary which operated until the end of the 19th century.  Other rooms are dedicated to specific exhibitions such as images of Christ, crucifixes, and the Holy Thursday Urn, which is a carved and gilded wood receptacle where the wafer consecrated on Holy Thursday is kept.

Church Interior

                  Main Altar                                   Holy Sacrament Altar

Holy Thursday Urn                          Tower                   

Collection of Crucifixes



Copyright - All  Photographs copyright Ron Gatepain

  Site Map