The fascinating blend of architecture and travel often inspires people to venture to foreign destinations to witness their remarkable landmarks. One such awe-inspiring site is the Capela das Almas, otherwise known as the Chapel of Souls, a must-see gem in Porto, Portugal. This impressive structure is enveloped in a whopping 15,947 individual blue and white ceramic tiles that collectively create a vast, complex design across the entire exterior of the neoclassical Saint Catherine Chapel. This tile work, a tribute to the Delft tiles of the 19th century, was carried out by Eduardo Leite in 1929.
The series of diverse scenes spread across the chapel’s facade is incredibly imposing, prompting onlookers to study the details closely. These murals depict the lives of Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Catherine, chronicling various religious events including the demise of Saint Francis and the martyrdom of Saint Catherine. The visual narrative also includes heavenly angels in flight and intricate decorative filigree.
Adding to its already extraordinary exterior, the front of the chapel features a stained glass window above the door. This window depicts ‘dal almas’ (the souls) in Purgatory being purified by the blood of Christ.
Nestled in the bustling Santo Ildefonso district, amidst the thriving shopping hub of Rua de Santa Catarina, the Chapel of Souls attracts a multitude of tourists. Its striking facade and close proximity to shops make it one of the most snapped tourist sites in the area.
While the chapel’s mesmerizing external tiles receive well-deserved praise, the Capela das Almas, like other similarly decorated churches, also beckons visitors to take a peek inside.
Entry to the chapel is free, with the opening hours varying throughout the week. It opens daily at 7:30 a.m. On Mondays, Tuesdays, and Saturdays, it closes at 1 p.m. and reopens from 3:30 to 7 p.m. On Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, it stays open all day with no afternoon break. On Sundays, after closing at 1 p.m., it reopens for just one additional hour from 6 to 7 p.m. The chapel is conveniently accessible via metro, with the closest stop being the Bolhão station.
Address: R. de Santa Catarina 428, 4000-124 Porto, Portugal