Categories: History

Slim 3-Feet-Wide House Separates Two Churches in Portugal

Perhaps to keep the monks and nuns from getting too close?

  • It’s wedged between a church for Carmelite monks and a church for Carmelite nuns.
  • Some say the two churches was separated to keep the monks and nuns from getting too close to each other.
  • The slim house was actually inhabited until the 1980s.

From the outside, this beautiful building in Porto, Portugal looks like an enormous church. But if you look closely, there’s a slim structure measuring just three-feet wide that actually separates two structures.

What looks like a wall is actually a very thin house that is wedged between two churches. If you don’t know the history of the structure, you wouldn’t even notice it.

Built in the 17th century, the Igreja dos Carmelitas Descalços is a church for Carmelite nuns, while the Igreja do Carmo was built in the 18th century for Carmelite monks.
It’s fairly easy to miss the house in between since the two churches’ respective regal designs complement each other.
The Igreja dos Carmelitas Descalços has a granite facade and three arched entrances with statues on top. On its left is a single bell tower, with a top covered in white and blue azulejos tiles.

Meanwhile, the Igreja do Carmo features a late Baroque design with tiles locally made in Vila Nova de Gaia.

Designed by artist Silvestro Silvestri, the tiles depict scenes of the founding of Mount Carmel and the Carmelite Order.
The inside of the church…
The inside of the small house…

As to why there’s a structure that divides the two churches, there are several theories.

One, it was said that the archbishops could not really stand each other so they built a church right next door as a boss-level architectural spite move. Two, there was said to be a law that does not allow two churches to share the same wall.

The third theory is more amusing, saying the odd house was erected to put some distance between the nuns and the monks, who might get too cozy with each other.

However, what’s even more interesting is the fact that people actually lived in such narrow space. The house was actually inhabited until the 1980s. Now people can check out this unusual building just by buying tickets to peek inside this weird abode.

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