The church of the Greater Seminary in Coimbra is not large, but it’s packed with theatrical devices. The plan consists of an elongated octagon as the main room, with a square chancel behind. Both have ceilings with decorative painting in perspective – the square room gets a handkerchief vault depicting a dome.
The main room receives a lantern and abundant, clerestory light. The chancel, in turn, has colored glass windows which, together with the ceiling tone, create a dramatic red glow and define it as a background scene. Both have balconies at a higher level, and in the octagonal hall they are oversized and boldly Baroque, one at each of the four diagonal corners.
The main altarpiece was made in Genoa. Directly facing it over the main door, the organ case takes over the entire bay, and spills into the Architecture as a floating, lively element.
In short, the whole is robust, sensorial and fun, and one of the most interesting interior spaces in Portugal.
Coimbra, Seminário Maior.
Francesco Tamossi and Giacomo Azzolini, 1748-1765.