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A blue hour view of the Dom Luis I bridge in Porto. Standing behind it floodlit is the Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar in the city of Vila Nova de Gaia.

The former the Monastery of Serra do Pilar is the architectural landmark of Gaia. The church and cloisters are laid out according to a circular design unique in Portugal. It is part of the area classified by UNESCO as World Heritage in December 1996.

The convent, which was built in the 16th century belonged to the Order of Saint Augustine. The church is characterised by a circular shape, a replica of the Church of Santa Maria Redonda in Rome, and is covered by a hemispheric vault with a narrow balcony running its full extent. It took 72 years to complete due to the lack of funding and the political turmoil of those times – with the kingdom of Portugal having fallen to neighbouring Spain. One legacy of that event was the adoption of a Spanish saint for the monastery, Our Lady of Pilar.

In 1832, during the Siege of Porto, its military value was made use of with the convent swiftly turned into an improvised fort. At the beginning of the 20th century, the monastery was used for military barracks and remains under the tutelage of the Serra do Pilar Artillery Regiment.

(Source: Visit Portugal web site)

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Additional Photos by Stephen Nunney (snunney) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 10646 W: 63 N: 29872] (130967)
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