Niccolò Nasoni – The Clérigos Architect

Buongiorno amici miei! Today we will be telling you about one of the most notable architects of the city of Porto. Although he wasn’t from the city of Porto it was there that he settled for the greater part of his life, leaving to the city some of its most famed buildings, and leaving in Portugal his phenomenal baroque so popular throughout the nation: he is none other than Niccolò Nasoni.

You can see Nasoni’s work all over town!

The architect and painter Porto so holds dear is a Tuscan-born, Siena-taught baroque architect who after doing some work in Rome was noticed by the Grandmaster of Malta at the time who happened to be Portuguese. He worked in Malta, on the Palazzo Malta where he distinguished himself decorating corridors and ceilings of the Headquarters of the Maltese Order during the 1720s. Not soon after he was invited to the city of Porto. In and around city he is credited with over 30 works and buildings. In Porto his most notable buildings stand out wherever they may be.

Niccolò Nasoni

Niccolò Nasoni first work started in 1725 was on the northern façade of the Cathedral of Porto, the Sé which you can see from the train station. He added the porch and the tiles to that side among other changes and renovations. You can find in Matosinhos the main façade of the Senhor do Bom Jesus Church was designed by Nasoni. On the other end of the metropolitan area we have the Freixo Palace, a phenomenal palace on the cliff side, overlooking the Douro river, with virtuously designed façades, placed courtyards and terraced gardens, and astounding interior decorations, much of it painted by Nasoni himself!

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Closer to you, in the downtown area of Porto you can find the Carmo Church in Gomes Teixeira Square; that church is in Baroque, as per Nasoni’s signature style, and features a huge side façade of blue and white tiles, a recurring favourite of the Italian’s work. One could not also ignore the Misericórdia Church in Flores Street, which connects the São Bento Central Train Station with the São Domingos square (which in turn will connect to the riverside). Its fine floral decorations of modest size fit nicely with both the thematic and overall height of the street’s buildings. Finally for this article but far from the full repertoire of work Nasoni has left to the city is the marvellous Clérigos Church. At 75 metres tall, it was the tallest building in Portugal at the time, and Nasoni considered it to be his greatest work.

Clérigos Tower is one of the most visited landmarks in Porto.

After a meagre 270 steps you can see from the top a fine view, which stretches all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. This tower is in late baroque style, and has become among the most iconic of the buildings of Porto, no little due to the fact that still today it stands tall as the highest point of the city well after 250 years of its construction. As per Nasoni’s request he was buried in the Church after his passing in 1773, aged 82. He had joined the order for whom he built the church towards the end of his life renouncing his material possessions. Behind he left 5 little Nasoni from his second marriage (he was a widow).

Niccolò Nasoni
Niccolò Nasoni

Today we can still see Nasoni’s work all over. A mere glance at the city will tell you he was there and that he was one of the most important architects of the city of Porto. From Gaia you can see the impact he has left on the city; the Clérigos Tower, the Episcopal Palace, and the Freixo Palace are authentic jewels of the city and the country as a whole, one which Porto will forever be grateful for. Thank you, Niccolò Nasoni!

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