The SE Cathedral in the old quarter of Faro, Algarve, Portugal
This building is of medieval origin, and corresponds to the old Igreja Matriz de Santa Maria, which was commissioned in 1251 by the Archbishop of Braga, D. João Viegas.
All that remains of the original building is the first floor of the tower that stands over the main façade and two chapels in the transept. In 1577, it was raised to the status of an Episcopal see and in 1596 it was sacked and burned by the English troops of the Earl of Essex, necessitating major rebuilding work which continued after the earthquakes of 1722 and 1755.
The interior of the three naves, with columns of the Tuscan order, contains one of the finest and most valuable collections of the 17th and 18th centuries in the Algarve.
In the chancel, there is an altarpiece with images of Nossa Senhora da Assunção (Our Lady of the Assumption), São Pedro (St Peter) and São Paulo (St Paul), and a choir stall, both dating from the 17th century. Two Italian canvases painted by Guerini and tiles with a blue, yellow and white pattern are also part of the ornamentation of this chapel.
The chancel chapel of the Most Holy Sacrament has a very interesting altarpiece from the last quarter of the 17th century, notable for its monumental throne in the shape of a pyramid.
The chancel chapel of Santo Lenho (the Holy Cross) contains the only altarpiece-reliquary in the Algarve. The tomb of the Bishop, D. António Pereira da Silva, who commissioned the cathedral, is set into the side wall.
Of the side chapels, those dedicated to Nossa Senhora da Conceição (Our Lady of the Conception) and São Domingos (St. Dominic) deserve special mention for their tiled walls and their gothic style; also, the Chapel of Nossa Senhora dos Prazeres (Our Lady of Pleasures), a little gem of Baroque architecture, with an octagonal baldachin, which makes it unique, and showing a wide range of techniques and materials in its composition: carving, plaster, mirrors, inlaid marble, painting and tiles. The Chapel of Nossa Senhora do Rosário (Our Lady of the Rosary), associated with the confraternity of native Africans since the 16th century, has a Baroque altarpiece, made by Francisco Ataíde in 1724, two interesting lamps with African figures and tile panels from the end of the 17th century.
Finally, next to the high choir, there is a flamboyant Baroque pipe organ with painted chinoiserie motifs.
Canon 5D mkii Canon 17-40mm F4L USM