The Igreja São Sebastião may not be the largest or oldest church in Manaus, but the magnificent paintings and a life-size nativity scene inside are definitely worth a visit!
The Igreja São Sebastião ("Church of Saint Sebastian") in Manaus dates back to 1888 and is one of our top 10 sights in Manaus. It is located on the square of the same name, Praça São Sebastião, just opposite the Teatro Amazonas, Manaus' famous opera house. It was built in the eclectic style under the direction of Gesualdo Marchetti Lucas and is now under the authority of the Capuchin Order.
However, the mighty walls of the impressive Catholic church and its single, fortified-looking bell tower also feature elements from other architectural styles, such as Gothic or neoclassicism.
Why only one tower?
Originally, of course, two bell towers were intended, which can still be clearly seen today. There are several theories for the single tower of the church, which gives the Igreja São Sebastião a somewhat leaning appearance:
- Some claim that the builder made off with his financial advance without fully completing the Igreja São Sebastião.
- Others say that the tower, like many parts of the church, was imported from Europe and its transport ship sank.
- The most likely theory, however, is that after the rubber boom in Manaus ended, the city simply ran out of money.
Visit to the Igreja São Sebastião
The interior of the Igreja São Sebastião in Manaus is decorated with wonderful paintings on the ceiling and walls, which were recently renovated. The special thing about these works of art is that they were made in Italy and then transported to Manaus. The magnificent paintings are further bathed in a very special light by the sunlight that falls through the many stained glass windows.
Immediately after the entrance, the largest ceiling painting in the entire church welcomes you. It shows the martyrdom of Saint Sebastian, painted by Ballerini. Other artists responsible for decorating the church are Silvio Centofanti and Franicisco Campanella.
The imposing dome of the Igreja São Sebastião shows eight angels and represents the joys of heaven. At the base of the dome are the four evangelists. In the side chapel on the left, you can admire a life-size nativity scene brought from Europe by the wealthy Manauara family.
Although Manaus is home to other notable cathedrals that are larger or older, the Igreja São Sebastião should definitely be on the list when visiting the city.