Who was Nicolau Nasoni? Influential architect of Porto aesthetics

Who was Nicolau Nason ...

Nicaulo Nasoni is an architect who has had a lot of influence on the evolution and aesthetics of Porto, bringing an artistic soul through the creation of frescoes and religious buildings. Having died just 250 years ago, he remains an emblematic figure of the city of Porto, who carefully maintains his works with a recognizable style. Follow us to discover a man who cannot be forgotten in Porto, Nicaulo Nasoni.

Opening photo: The Clerigos Tower Photo by AdobeStock Visual Intermezzo

Nicaulo Nasoni, portrait of an Italian architect who influenced Porto

Nicolau Nasoni was born in Italy on June 2, 1691 in San Giovanni Valdarno. At a very young age, he already showed ease in drawing, a skill noticed by his friend Vincenzo Ferrati, who took him to study in Siena alongside Giuseppe Nicola Nasini. It was the beginning of a long artistic history since a mission was quickly entrusted to him, that of building a catafalque in the cathedral of Siena for Ferdinand de Medici, an Italian collector and patron. Then everything came together after studying architecture and painting which allowed him to be hired as a painter in Rome and Malta, before arriving in Porto in September 1725 as responsible for the aesthetic renovation of the sacristy and from the main chapel of Sé Cathedral. It is here that he continued his rise and his works which still make him so well known today, and which have given Porto its pretty appearance which suits it so well.

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Sé de Porto Cathedral
Porto Sé Cathedral

Nicaulo Nasoni, a style all his own

Architect and painter, Nicaulo Nasoni evolves with a style of his own that he worked with his friend Giovanni Valdarno and in Siena alongside Giuseppe Nicola Nasini, an Italian baroque painter. This style is reflected in his works, where his spectacular work is praised and recommended. Nicaulo Nasoni notably masters Talha Dourada, a technique for decorating wood with gold leaf. In churches and cathedrals, it also sets its mark by giving a concave and wavy shape to the back altar, a structure subsequently taken up by Portuguese architects. His skills extend to wood sculpture which he masters, a technique which has greatly influenced Porto. Combining architecture, painting, sculpture and decorative art between asymmetrical shells, acanthus leaves and winged angels, Nicaulo Nasoni introduces rococo to his baroque style, creating unique works that resemble it like Porto.

Expedition House and Sao Francisco Church
Expedition House and Sao Francisco Church

Nicaulo Nasini, artistic achievements in Porto

In Porto, his first works were the frescoes on the walls of the cathedral, a creation with a mastered illusionist perspective which amazed the Portuguese at that time. The renovation of the cathedral was also a success, bringing the baroque and rococo styles that stick to it and a novelty in Porto, the quadrature. Many works were signed with his name, such as:

  • The Palace and Garden of Freixo
  • Casa e Garden of Quinta da Prelada,
  • The facade of the Igreja misericórdia

His greatest work remains the Torre dos Clérigos (Clerigos Tower), a religious monument with a Baroque facade with an interior of granite, marble and carved wood.

Today buried in the crypt of the church of Clérigos, he remains in the memories of the Portuguese and continues to amaze visitors to Porto who cannot miss his style, very present throughout the city.

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Fresco on the left side of Porto Cathedral
Fresco on the left side of Porto Cathedral
The Clerigos Tower
The Clerigos Tower

The Clerigos Tower of Porto

Church of Mercy of Porto
Church of Mercy of Porto

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