Church of Nossa Senhora da Nazaré

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General view

The Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Nazaré is an imposing church located on the hilltop O Sitio overlooking Nazaré, Portugal.

According to the Legend of Nazaré the sheriff (alcaide) of Porto de Mós, Dom Fuas Roupinho, maybe a templar, was chasing on horseback a deer up a hilltop on a misty September morning in 1182 (later it was said that it was the devil, in the disguise of a deer). When the deer jumped over the edge of the hilltop into the void, his fiery horse was about to follow. Then the knight invoked the intervention of the Madonna, who made the horse turn away through a supernatural effort and saved the life of the knight. Subsequently, a chapel A Ermida da Memoria, was built very near this spot, over a grotto where stood a small statue of a Black Madonna, brought from Nazareth. Near the chapel one can see the imprint of the horseshoe in the rock.

The church, founded in the 14th century, was rebuilt in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Semicircular steps lead to a Baroque portal under two square bell towers. The façade has gallery-like extensions.

The profusely decorated gilded apse shows the small statue of Nossa Senhora da Nazaré in a lit niche above the main altar, flanked by twisted columns. Above the crossing of the single nave with the transept is a cupola and a lantern. They are all vaulted by a gilt coffer ceiling.

The many azulejos in the transept were made in 1708 by the Dutch ceramist Willem van der Kloet (1666–1747). They depict biblical scenes, among them Joseph being sold as a slave by his brothers.

On 8 September of each year a romaria (religious festival) draws many tourists and pilgrims with the processions, bullfights and folk dancing.


  • The Rough Guide to Portugal - March 2005, 11th edition- ISBN 1-84353-438-X
  • Rentes de Carvalho J. - Portugal, um guia para amigos (in Dutch Translation Portugal; De Arbeiderspers, Amsterdam, 1989; 9th edition, 1999 - ISBN 90-295-3466-4

Coordinates: 39°36′20″N 9°04′36″W / 39.6055°N 9.0767°W / 39.6055; -9.0767