Sé Catedral de Leiria
A Renaissance church with a unique history.
On May 22, 1545, at the request of King John III, Pope Paul III established the Diocese of Leiria with the bull Pro Excellenti. His jurisdiction was entrusted to the reformist of the Monastery of Santa Cruz de Coimbra, Friar Brás de Barros, who became his first bishop. Given the small size of the temples at the time, the need arose to erect a building more appropriate to the new requirements.
The construction of the Cathedral began in 1546, following a project by the architect Afonso Álvares, who opted for a Mannerist style for the exterior, conserving a harmonious interior with three naves of the same height, of late Renaissance inspiration. The church was only consecrated in 1574, when it had no sacristy or other facilities. In ensuing centuries some changes were made thanks to Episcopal action.
The earthquake of 1755 caused serious damage to the main facade and reconstruction began the year after. In 1772, D. Frei Miguel de Bolhões e Sousa had the bell tower built a little way from the building, on the old medieval tower of the Portas do Sol, which marked the South entrance on the castle wall. In 1810, during the Napoleonic Wars, a fire partially consumed the church’s interior.
Boasting a sober architecture, Baroque and mannerist, Leiria Cathedral shares some similarities with those of Portalegre and Miranda do Douro and still boasts some vestiges of Gothic heritage. It has a Latin cross floor-plan and three naves of equal height, separated by pillars. The main chapel, of Mannerist style, dates from the 17th century and is authored by Baltasar Álvares and Frei João Turriano. The altarpiece is integrated within it, with paintings of Simão Rodrigues that portray episodes in the life of the Virgin Mary. Two large baroque-style organs that overlook two side chancels complete the decor.
Monday to Saturday: 8.30 am.-7.00 pm.; Sunday: 10 am.-7.30 pm.