Exploring Clérigos Tower (and 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. As I stand on the Gaia side, gazing at Porto from a distance, I tell myself: “It’s not that high, I’ll be fine!”.
However, when I find myself face to face 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 won’t be as easy as I thought!”
The tower serves as the bell tower of the Clérigos church, a Baroque masterpiece designed by the Italian architect Nasoni. Construction of the church began in 1732 and concluded in 1750, making it a beautiful site worth visiting – either before or after your climb (if you’re like me and need a reason to delay). The tower itself was built between 1754 and 1763.
How long does it take to climb the Clérigos Tower?
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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Is a visit to Clérigos Tower worth it?
Now, the burning question: Is it worth it? With only a few steeper, stone steps separating 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!
Discovering Porto’s tallest church
By the way, if you’re wondering about the tallest church in Porto, it’s none other than the Clérigos Church, home to the Clérigos Tower. This Baroque gem stands as a testament to architectural and engineering prowess, with its bell tower soaring above the city’s skyline. So, when you visit the Clérigos Tower, you’re not only conquering heights but also paying homage to one of Porto’s most iconic and tallest churches.
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.
Enjoy your stay in town,
Your Foodie Friend in Porto