|Trip page||This page contains excerpts from a guide to Viseu. It is added as background information for a write-up of a trip to Viseu.|
Welcome to Viseu
Occupied since the Castro era, the History of Viseu is closely connected with the History of Portugal. If the mythical figure of Viriathus, the warrior who led Lusitanian tribes against the Romans, gave the old city vital importance during Roman times, King Afonso Henriques, the first Portuguese King, established a close connection between the first years of the foundation of the country and this noble Beira Alta city. A place of high strategic and commercial importance since remote times, there are many traces which archaeology and, sometimes, chance have revealed here.
Viseu's history dates to ancient times. It thrived under the Romans despite strong opposition from the local Lusitanian tribes led by warrior-chief Viriato (Viriathus). Legend holds that the rebel leader eventually took refuge in a nearby cave before being captured in 139 BC.
In later centuries Viseu was conquered and reconquered during the struggles between Christians and Moors. It was definitively captured by Fernando I, king of Castilla y León, in 1057.
Afonso V completed Viseu's sturdy walls in about 1472. The town soon spread beyond them, and grew fat from agriculture and trade. An annual "free fair", declared by João III in 1510, continues today as one of the region's biggest agricultural and handicraft expositions.
Statue of Viriatus in Viseu
Seen from far, the towers of the cathedral are a reference point for those visiting the city of Viseu. The current cathedral was built next to an ancient Swabian-Visigoth temple possibly dating back to the 10th century during which the city was the capital to a large territory between the Douro and Mondego rivers. However, it was during the reign of King Afonso Henriques that this splendid cathedral, a symbol of Viseu's History, began to take shape.
When you get to the churchyard of the Cathedral, you will see a majestic facade delimitated by two tall bell towers, one built during mediaeval times and the other during the 17th century, after it was brought down by a violent storm. Among them, you will find the central body much like a remarkable stone retable, registry over registry, in which six niches holding sculptures representing the four evangelists, Saint Theotonius, patron of the cathedral, and, at the heart of the set, you will see Our Lady of the Assumption. At the centre, the arched doorway invites you to enter.
Viseu City Walk
1Catedral de Santa Maria de Viseu - National Monument
The current building is the result of several interventions made over the centuries. From the primitive Romanic-Gothic building, the merions frieze, the oculus and the broken arch portals are the only elements that still remain. The central facade of mannerist style replaced the Manueline one which collapsed in 1635. Inside there is a Manueline arched roof, completed in 1513, and a Renaissance cloister built between 1528 and 1534 by the Italian architect Francesco de Cremona.
2National Museum Grão Vasco - National Monument
The building construction started in 1593 to be a diocesan seminary, with a classical sober and clear facade. In 1916 the Graão Vasco Museum was settled in the building. The main collection of the Museum consists of sixteenth-century paintings from Vasco Fernandes, also known as "Grado Vasco", among other national treasures.
Catedral de Santa Maria de Viseu
National Museum Grão
Built in the second half of the 16th century and rebuilt in 1775. Facade flanked by two towers, with the national arms surmounted by the royal crown displayed at the centre. The interior, renovated in the 19th century, has three altarpieces of neoclassic style. The organ, of golden and polychrome carvings, dates from the 2nd half of the 18th century.
4Casa do Miradouro (Museum)
Built in the first half of the 16th century, the original building suffered significant changes in the 18th century. On the facade the highlights are the classicist lines of the central body, with ionic pilasters, similar to the columns of the Cathedral's Renaissance cloister.
Casa do Miradouro
5Porta do Soar - National Monument
It is one of the seven existing entries of the medieval wall, from which only two remain. It was started by King João | (1385-1433) and completed in the late reign of King Afonso V (1438-1481).
6Almeida Moreira Museum
Formerly Francisco Almeida Moreira's house, one of the most relevant personalities of the early 20th century Portuguese and local society, who donated it to the city. The museum displays some valuable collections of paintings, sculptures, ceramics, furniture and an important documentary collection.
Porta do Soar
Almeida Moreira Museum
7Câmara Municipal de Viseu
The building was started in 1877 by Matos Cid and its highlights are the entrance hall, with tile panels, portraits of the most illustrious city figures painted by José de Almeida e Silva and an allegory to the glory and fame of the city. The wrought iron chandelier was crafted by Master Arnaldo Malho.
8Church of Ordem Terceira de São Francisco
Its construction started in 1757 and it was designed by Antonio Mendes Coutinho. On the facade the highlights are the exuberance of the window frames, the door and cartouches. The interior is decorated with carvings and tiles from the same period.
Câmara Municipal de Viseu
Church of Ordem Terceira de São Francisco
9Parque Aquilino Ribeiro
A public park which belonged to a medieval farm with secular plants of many different species. Its name is a tribute to the great writer Aquilino Ribeiro and a place where many cultural activities are held throughout the year.
10Solar dos Condes de Prime - Public Interest Building
Baroque house built in the first half of the 18th century by José Teixeira de Carvalho. The chapel has a magnificent gilded altarpiece, of Johannine style, and tile panels depicting St. Anthony's life.
Parque Aquilino Ribeiro
Solar dos Condes de Prime
11Church Nossa Senhora do Carmo
Built until 1738, its interior was completed just after. It is composed by five golden engravings of baroque style and tile panels in rococo style, displaying profane themes. The ceiling was painted by Pascoal Parente.
12Seminário Maior de Viseu - Antigo Convento de São Filipe Néri
The construction of the cloister and the church, designed by Antonio Mendes Coutinho in Baroque style, started in 1757 to house the Congregation of St Philip Neri's Oratory. Inside the church there is a pipe organ from the 19th century that came from the Cathedral.
Church Nossa Senhora do Carmo
Seminário Maior de Viseu
13Traces of the Roman Wall
During the Roman period, two walls were built around the city borough: an honorific one built in the Ist century and another one which was built later with defensive purposes. These Roman remains were discovered in 2004.
14Janela Manuelinas - National Monument (ABCDEF)
In the historical centre people can still admire a set of windows with the characteristic decoration from the Manuelin period. The most significant can be observed at Rua Dom Duarte, a National Monument.
Traces of the Roman Wall
15Solar dos Viscondes de Treixedo - Public Interest Building
This manor house testifies the taste for the pompous facades of the early 18th century Baroque period. It was built by Almeida Cardoso de Sousa Sequeira's family.
16Church of Santo António (Old Convent of Bom Jesus) - Public Interest Building
Part of the ‘Bom Jesus' Convent, from St. Bento's Order, founded in 1569 by the Bishop Jorge de Ataide. The church interior is decorated with three golden engravings of rococo style, paintings and tile panels. Its presbytery ceiling is decorated with paintings on wood from the 18" century.
Solar dos Viscondes de Treixedo
Church of Santo António
17Porta dos Cavaleiros (Knights' Door) - National Monument
It is one of the seven existing entries of the medieval city wall, from which only two remain. The fence construction was the result of the city prosecutors' requests presented at the Courts of Lisbon in 1439.
18Chafariz de São Francisco ou do Arco
We can see this fountain right next to the "Porta dos Cavaleiros" and the Solar do Arco. It is a baroque construction built in 1741. It has two spouts in marigold form, a rectangular tank, lonic pilasters and a niche with a St. Francisco sculpture.
Porta dos Cavaleiros
Chafariz de São Francisco ou do Arco
19Solar dos Albuquerques/Casa dos Fidalgos do Arco
A building from the 17th century which was designed by Jodo Coelho do Amaral. Inside there is a staircase with Baroque tile panels. Today it houses Emidio Navarro School.
20Casa da Calcada - Public Interest Building
A Baroque house with a pompous facade designed by Manuel Alvares. Its construction was started in 1757 by the priest Francisco José de Sampaio e Melo.
Solar dos Albuquerques/Casa dos Fidalgos do Arco
Casa da Calcada
21Casa da Ribeira
Originally built as a farmers' house by the River Pavia, whose waters ensured the mills work. Currently it exhibits and promotes Portuguese traditions and regional handicrafts.
22Cava de Viriato - National Monument
It is the largest monument of the city, octagonal shaped, with slopes of land and outer moats, making it unique in the national and European scene. Of uncertain origin, considered by some authors a former Roman camp or the result of medieval military engineering, it was probably built in the last decade of the 10th century during the Muslim occupation. From the 19th century on it became a promenade. It has undergone several interventions, the recent redevelopment designed by Goncalo Byrne being the most important of them all.
Casa da Ribeira
Cava de Viriato
23Solar do Vinho do Dao - Paco Episcopal
Its construction was decided by Bishop D. Jodo Homem by the end of the 14th. century. The only elements that remain from the original building are the portal with its Gothic arch and merlons cornices. in the 16th century, Miguel da Silva remodelled the building and the Renaissance gardens. Since 2004 it houses the Regional Commission of Dao Wine.
24Parque do Fontelo
An ancient forest that was used as the summer playground of the city's bishops, filled with ancient trees that went hand in hand with the history of the city. The portal at the entrance was built in 1565 by Bishop Gonçalo Pinheiro. There we can also find the Fontelo Sports Complex which includes municipal swimming pools, municipal stadium, soccer fields, tennis and basketball courts, a Skate Park, adapted sports facilities and a fitness circuit.
Solar do Vinho do Dao
Parque do Fontelo