Capela de São Pedro de Balsemão
Despite the relatively recent Baroque styling of the facade the Chapel of São Pedro de Balsemão is in fact one of the most ancient churches in Portugal. The site possibly dates back to the 7th century when it may have been used as a sanctuary by the Visigoths.
It is actually more likely the chapel started out in the 9th or 10th century as the reconquests gained traction. Whilst the The layout is believed to remain as it was, what we see today is very much a mixture of styles and influences from the intervening centuries.
A closer look at some of the stones, including those used to build the altar, reveal their origin. These were stones from the ruins of a nearby Roman villa, some of which carry the original inscriptions.
Among the more notable features are the ornate Corinthian pillars which hold up the arches dividing the apse. Centre stage though is the 14th century Gothic sarcophagus of the then Bishop of Porto, D. Afonso Pires.
At some point in the 17th century the chapel was annexed by the local landowner who restyled the chapel to fit in with his adjoining manor. Following this the chapel was also used as the family pantheon.