A most fascinating building, the Greater Seminary in Coimbra is just slightly off the main touristy areas and, when we visited at least, closed to the public. It is remarkable for being the work of two Italians, Francesco Tamossi and Giacomo Azzolini, the latter of which designed the most excellent Royal Manege in Lisbon, now famous as the old Coach Museum.
It was built in the middle of the 18th c. and is unlike anything seen in Coimbra from that period. The detailing is High Classical, with Baroque flourishes in the window surrounds, the central pediment with a triumphal arch, the flamboyant towers and those polyhedral urns. The “diamonds” of the urns appear again in the corners of the towers and the center.
In spite of this, not every element is consistent with each other, and the end result seems more like a collection of ideas than a unified design. The building does have great charm and panache however, and holds many surprises inside. It stands as a tribute to an age where both the resources and the will to bring in the best artists and artisans existed. These would have tremendous influence on later generations of Portuguese Architects, and centuries later we can thank them for their gift of beauty.
Coimbra, Seminário Maior.
Francesco Tamossi and Giacomo Azzolini, 1748-1765.