The best independent guide to Porto
The best independent guide to Porto
The 75m high Torre dos Clérigos is the icon of Porto.
Since its construction in 1763 to the late 19th-century Clérigos Tower was the tallest building in Portugal, and even today it is the highest structure in the historic centre of Porto.
From the top of the granite tower, are stunning panoramic views over Porto, and this view is worth the €6 admission and 240 steps to reach it.
The Torre dos Clérigos stands higher than any other building in the historic quart of Porto. Also being situated at the top of the hill enhances the apparent height of the tower
The Torre dos Clérigos is to the rear of the Igreja dos Clérigos church
The admission fee also provides entry to the Clérigos Museum, which exhibits religious artefacts and paintings from the Brotherhood of the Clérigos. This is an extensive and fascinating collection, if you have a passion for religious art or history.
The Torre dos Clérigos is attached to the Igreja dos Clérigos, a classical baroque church, with an ornate stone front facade.
If you purely wish to visit the church, it is free to enter, and has been beautifully restored after the major renovation project that was completed in 2014. The church is unique for its oval shaded nave, which provides outstanding acoustics for the two pipe organs.
The Torre dos Clérigos is open at night (7pm-11pm), and the viewpoint provides a completely different perspective of central Porto, and also a quieter visitor experience.
The Se cathedral as seen from the top of the Torre dos Clérigos
Note: The iconic Ponte Luís I bridge can’t be seen from the top of the tower, as Se Cathedral hill blocks the line of sight of it.
Being the most famous sight of Porto, the Torre dos Clérigos can get very busy during the day, and the increased admission fee has not lessened visitor numbers.
Our advice is to visit early in the day or at night, but the night ticket (€5) does not include the museum, as it is shut.
Warning: It is 240 steps to the top of the tower and was never designed for large visitor numbers. Only visit if you are fit enough to climb to the top and are not affected by confined spaces, as the final section is very narrow. The narrow stairs get very hot in the summer months.
The narrow stairs leading to the viewing deck
The Clérigos tower was constructed as a bell tower and the bells still toll throughout the day, much to the shock of the tourists stood close to them. There are 49 bells, with the last ones added in 1995.
The Torre dos Clérigos was designed by Porto’s most famous architect Nicolau Nasoni, an Italian who spent the majority of his life constructing wonderous buildings in northern Portugal. In later life, Nicolau joined the Clérigos order and is buried in an unmarked tomb in the church that he created.
The tower was not actually built at the same time as the church. The Igreja dos Clérigos was completed in 1748, and the Torre dos Clérigos was only started in 1754. The original plans were for two symmetrical towers, but as the funding was purely from the clergy and donations, the designs were scaled back.
The Brotherhood of the Clérigos was started as a combination of three 17th century charitable organisations, whose purpose was to care for the poor of Porto.
On founding the order, they were provided with a plot of land outside of the city walls and at the top of the hill. This hill is where the church stands today, and was historically called “Hill of the Hanged Ones”, as it was used to burry criminals.
The front façade of the Igreja dos Clérigos church, and the tower is to the rear