Built in 1559, the Cathedral of Leiria is a beautiful sober Mannerist building, as well as one of Portugal’s finest example of hall churches (Hallenkirchen), along with the Monastery of Alcobaça and Jeronimus Monastery in Lisbon.
One of the most interesting facts about the Cathedral of Leiria is the role played by the woman in the Gospels, since there is a representation of the coronation of the Virgin Mary in the altarpiece of the main altar.
Legend has it that there was a bell tower in the Cathedral of Leiria, however the inhabitants who lived on the other side of the city could not hear the bells tolling for prayer. This is why in 1770 the Bishop D. Miguel Bulhões e Sousa ordered the construction of another bell tower on the slope of the castle, that is to say, detached from the Cathedral. Locals say that “Leiria has a tower which is not a Cathedral and a Cathedral that does not have a tower.” It is actually the only Cathedral in Portugal that does not have an integrated bell tower.
The terrible earthquake of 1775 that hit Lisbon has also seriously damaged the main façade of the Cathedral of Leiria and reconstruction works began in the following year.
The Cathedral of Leiria is a magnificent example of the values of Humanism and Renaissance influence.