“Shame on those who remain unmoved, whose pace fails to quicken, on entering one of these old habitations, a manor-house falling to wrack and ruin or a desecrated church!”
– Petrus Borel
A fifteen minute walk up the Douro River across from Porto, away from all the tourists, takes you to the Chapel of the Senhor D’Além (Lord of Beyond), built in 1877.
Nestled in a rocky slope along the bank of the river the abandoned chapel is in ruins. The bricked up doorway was broken 3/4 of the down to allow entry into the beautiful but eerie interior. The current squatter/guardian, Antonio and his two dogs, have lived there for a year. There’s a photo of Jesus on the intricately carved wood altar along with a dining table and two chairs. The tiled roof has big holes in it from kids throwing rocks down on it. There’s a cookstove in a make-do kitchen area. Everything smelled of mold, dog and cleaning solution.
From the photos Antonio showed us I think some people pay him so they spend the night in the bed near the altar. He said the city doesn’t bother him since he takes care of the chapel. When you visit he asks for a small donation to help him feed the dogs. So the House of God has become the House of Dog.
I love exploring buildings that have gone to ruin. I like to imagine all the memories and secrets contained within its walls. I liked going back in time to when the chapel bells rang, when music and prayer filled the walls, when the people stood outside the chapel after a service to catch up with each other. I don’t know why this chapel went to ruin and in the short time I was there it didn’t reveal any of its secrets to me. And I won’t be staying overnight to find them out. Some secrets are never meant to be told.