Ingreja de São Lourenço is Almancil’s treasure:
East of Vilamoura and just outside the town of Almancil stands Ingreja de São Lourenço, a small, Baroque-style white chapel which is the main sightseeing reasons why most tourists come to Almancil. Inside the chapel is one of the Algarve’s most amazing sights – an outstanding masterpiece of decoration in azulejo panels.
Ingreja de São Lourenço was built in the 18th century and dedicated to Saint Lawrence of Rome. Local inhabitants, in gratitude to Saint Lawrence for answering their prayers for water, commissioned the building.
Inside the Chapel
The interior decoration is a classic work of Portuguese baroque-style and azulejo art. The main altar has a gilded woodwork altarpiece and the walls are completely covered by exquisite azulejo panels which depict episodes of Saint Lawrence’s life.
Along the sides of the walls are arches, each one framing an episode of the saint’s life. On one side of the altar, Saint Lawrence is shown healing two blind men and on the other, giving money to the poor.
The nave arches show Saint Lawrence talking with Pope Sixtus II and the saint arguing for his Christian belief with Roman Emperor Valerian and refusing to give up his faith.
In the last panel on the right, the story ends in the the saint’s martyrdom. Saint Lawrence is placed on a gridiron to be burned.
The nave vault depicts the Coronation of Saint Lawrence and the cupola has amazing and decorative trompe-l’oeil effects.
Whilst you will see many examples of azulejo panels in your Algarve and Portugal travels, none are so dramatic as when a whole chapel is decorated in this style.
In the area around the chapel, the houses retain much of the character and charm of the old Algarve, and here a group of carefully preserved old buildings have been converted to house an art gallery.
Almancil offers visitors the chance to purchase some excellent traditional ceramic pieces. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to go anywhere near the shops.