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The Santuario de Santa Luzia Viana do Castelo
The Santuario de Santa Luzia is the majestic icon of Viana do Castelo that dominates the skyline of the city. This wonderous structure, inspired by Byzantine architecture with flurries of Gothic elements, is like no other religious building in Portugal, in part that it is less than 80 years old.
Not only being a magnificent monument the Santuario de Santa Luzia complex is also an outstanding tourist attraction. There’s a quaint funicular that climbs the steep hill, at the sumit are spectacular views, the interior of the church is beautiful decorated, and tourists can even traverse through the hidden interior to reach to top of the domed roof. This article will provide a tourist guide to the Santuario de Santa Luzia and includes an image tour of a typical visit.
Tourist information, opening hours and entrance fees
• Templo Monumrnto Santa Luiza church entrance fee – free
• Santuário de Santa Luzia viewing platform (top of dome) - €2 (adult)
• Elevador Santa Luzia Funicular - €2/€3 (single/return)
• Funicular terminal in Viana Do Castelo – GPS 41.69684, -8.83033
• Santuário de Santa Luzia opening times 08:00-19:00 (summer) 8:00-17:00 (winter)
• Best times to visit – 8:00-10:00 (before the crowds or stifling summer heat)
• Daily Mass at 16:00 (in Portuguese) Sunday service (11:00 and 16:00) – for more info please see http://www.templosantaluzia.org (link opens new tab)
Please note: The climb to the top of the dome is only suitable for fit people, and who have no issues with dealing heights or enclosed spaces.
The Santuario de Santa Luzia looks much older than 80 years!
The Gothic styling of the Santa Luzia suggests a longer history than it actually has, it was only commissioned in 1904 and fully completed in 1943. Interestingly, the first religious service held in the church was seventeen years earlier before the final completion.
Image tour for a trip to the Santuario de Santa Luzia
From the centre of Viana Do Castelo its 250m up to the Monte de Santa Luzia and the Santuario de Santa Luzia. There is a path of 660 steps but we would recommend the Elevador Santa Luzia Funicular (at least for going up).
The Elevador Santa Luzia Funicular eliminates a tough uphill walk
Before rushing into the Santuario de Santa Luzia, we suggest walking around the exterior of the church and admiring the stunning views. These views are amazing, looking east along the Limia river valley, south over the city, or west over the rugged coastline and Atlantic Ocean. On the lower terrace is a useful info-picture, which details all of the sights of the city.
The views from the top of the Monte de Santa Luzia
Outside of the Funicular station there is a selection of cafes and gift shops, a coffee could be good to boast energy as there is a lot of step to climb. The entrance to the main chamber of the Santuario de Santa Luzia is on the southern side, while the dome entrance is on the east (side closest to the funicular).
The eastern rose window and the high-rise dome, soon to be climbed….
First visit the church, as it contains a beautiful interior and provides an appreciation of how high the dome actually is. The actual floor area church is surprisingly small and unlike many traditional gothic religious buildings, it is light and bright. The large amount of natural light flows through the two huge rose windows (these are largest Rose windows in the Iberian Peninsula).
Narrow steps and dark surrounds
Next visit the doomed roof and the wonderful view, but it is a challenge (and €2) to get there. The assent has the similarities of a mouse scuttling through the hidden spaces in a house; there are narrow gaps to squeeze through and precarious climbs, which pass the inner workings of the church.
The final climb to the top of the roof
At the top appreciate the outstanding views over the entire region
The view over the slow flowing Limia River
A visit to the Monte de Santa Luzia could be easily extend by visiting the extensive Roman Ruins or have a relaxing drink in the exclusive Pousada Viana do Castelo hotel.
The exclusive Pousada Viana do Castelo, which was originally the Hotel Santa Luzia