Clérigos Tower – Conquering fears
As someone who struggles with a fear of heights, I challenge myself in every new city to visit the highest structure. In Porto, this is the famous Clérigos Tower. Gazing over Porto from the Gaia side, I tell Miguel, “It’s not that high, I’ll be fine!” However, when face to stone with the tower that rises 75.6 meters (248 feet) high above the city, I feel a little bead of sweat slide down my back. Maybe this isn’t going to be that easy… The tower is actually the bell tower of the Clérigos church which it is attached to. Both designed by the Italian architect Nasoni. A Baroque church in which construction began in 1732 and was finished in 1750, is a beautiful site worth visiting too. Either after your climb or before, if you are like me and are looking for a reason to stall. The tower itself was built between 1754 and 1763.*
Given the time period of its construction, it is no easy feat to summit the Clérigos tower. Don’t expect the speedy lift that whisks you to the top of St Mark’s Campanile in Venice, Italy. Certainly, you have to work for this one. A total of 240 steep steps lie between you and the magnificent view at the top. Along the way, I am also tantalized (more like tortured) with sneak peeks of the city via portholes in the structure.
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Will I be ok?
With only a few steeper, stone steps separate me and the moment of truth, I take a deep breath. Will I cling to the facade like I did at the top of Galata Tower in Istanbul, where only a metal rod stood between me and my fears? Or will I succumb to almost tears like I did upon the taunting of my friend at the top of St. Peter’s Church in Munich? Or worse, will I curl up into the fetal position like I did at the top of the Empire State Building in New York? Luckily, none of the above occurred! That Italian architect and those Portuguese builders knew what they were doing and built one of the sturdiest viewing platforms I have experienced. On top of that, they really knew how to pick a spot! No other spot in Porto gives you a 360-degree view of the city. You can see across the river to Gaia and out across the city to the ocean. From here, it feels like the city is smiling back at me and congratulating me for a job well done on challenging my fears yet again! For a further look at Clérigos Tower, the city of Porto has put together a beautiful video that explains some of the histories of the tower that I would highly recommend. Also, I like the dramatic music score 😉