Igreja do Carmo

Porto, Portugal | C.1768

Photo Credit: Samuel Lima

The astounding, porcelain-esque mosaic adorning the Igreja do Carmo is enough to draw visitors from far and wide. But the blue-and-white azulejo tiles are not the only attraction to this National Monument of Portugal – there are multiple pieces to this intricate puzzle, one being hidden in plain sight!

Constructed in 1768 in Porto, Igreja de Carmo accompanies its sister church, Igreja dos Carmelitas, built more than a century earlier. The two churches make a great pair and at first glance, you may mistake them for one massive structure – but they are separated by an easily missed third structure! The 1.5-meter-wide Casa Escondido is the narrowest house in Porto built directly between the two churches. Rumor has it, this “hidden house” was constructed to prevent any – er – unseemly behavior between the nuns, housed in the Carmelitas, and the monks housed in the Carmo. Where it once housed chaplains, working artists and doctors serving the Carmo’s hospital, today it is uninhabited.

It’s no secret that Portugal is home to some of the most stunning mosaic exteriors in the world, and the azulejo tile-work outside Igreja do Carmo is some of the finest. But, if the church’s next door neighbor proves anything, it’s this: some of the country’s most “hidden” treasures are “housed” in more… narrow quarters.

Written By: Sam Jacobson

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