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Chapel of Souls

Chapel of Souls:  A Sacred Gem Hidden in Plain Sight

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Chapel of Souls front view
Chapel of Souls exterior (front and side view)

photo from

When walking down Rua de Santa Catarina, a bustling shopping street, in Porto, Portugal, you will come across the Chapel of Souls.  This distinctive church is unusual and beautiful.  It is also known as the Chapel of Santa Catarina and Capela das Almas in Portuguese.  Originating in the 18th century, the chapel underwent restoration and expansion in 1801, acquiring iconic azulejo tiles in 1929.  The Chapel of Souls is always at the top of must-see landmarks when visiting Porto and it has become the focal point of countless photographs.

The History:

Originally a humble wooden chapel, it served as a place of worship dedicated to St. Catherine, a Christian martyr from the fourth century. The transformation of the present structure began at the close of the 18th century when the Brotherhood of Souls and Wounds of Saint Francis relocated from the Monastery of Santa Clara to the Chapel of Santa Catarina.

Chapel of Souls tiled wall

photo from

The Exterior: 

The exterior of the church is what makes the Chapel of Souls so special.  Adorned with hand-painted blue and white ceramic tiles, known as "azulejos," every external wall tells a visual tale of Christian history and legends. Scenes depicting the death of Francis of Assisi and the Martyrdom of Saint Catherine come to life on the tiles, the masterpiece of Eduardo Leite in 1929. Covering 360 square meters, these 15,947 azulejo tiles replaced the previously white-plastered exterior, transforming the chapel's façade.  The exterior walls of the Chapel of Souls became a canvas for the hand-painted azulejo tiles.


The Stained Glass Window:

The 19th-century stained glass window, portraying "Las Almas" ("The Souls"), is a creation by Amandio Silva.  It portrays the souls in Purgatory washed with the redeeming blood of Christ.

Chapel of Souls interior
Chapel of Souls interior
Chapel of Souls interior
Chapel of Souls interior

The Interior:

While the chapel's interior may not match the splendor of its exterior, it boasts captivating elements, including the image of Nossa Senhora das Almas (Our Lady of the Souls), all in a neoclassical style.


The Chapel of Souls merits a prime spot on your Porto itinerary. Nestled in a bustling shopping district, you can seamlessly weave a visit to the chapel into your exploration and shopping spree. The Chapel of Souls beckons, revealing its sacred beauty in plain sight on Rua de Santa Catarina.

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