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Monastery of Santa Maria de Arouca

Monastery of Santa Maria de Arouca

The monastic building constituted by the church, choir, cloisters, dormitories and fence, was classified has a National Monument on 16 June of the year 1910.

The current construction was built from the late seventeenth century and the next century. It overlapped all existing buildings and erased all previous architectural structures that were built from the tenth century, the century of the founding of the monastery, dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul, St. Cosmas and St. Damian. In the thirteenth century, the Holy Queen Mafalda, turned the monastery to the Cistercian rule, and changing the name to the Monastery of Santa Maria de Arouca. We must understand the Monastery of Santa Maria de Arouca as a female Cistercian monastery. The quality of its architecture, and the complementary arts, is justified by the high socio-cultural strata of the nuns who lived in it.

The works of renovation began by the body of Ordinances, which was completed in the year of 1692; followed by the construction of the church and the choir, which is a singular work in the context of the Portuguese architecture designed according to the project of architect Carlos Gimac (1704-1718). The barn with the staircase is from the 40’s and they were built by the architect Gaspar Ferreira from Coimbra. The cloister the workshops the kitchen the refectory and the chapter house are from the second half of the century. The construction of the current building dates between 1692 and 1789. There was no global program for the renovation of the Monastery, although in the existing building the prevailing mark is the coherence of forms which characterizes the image of the Monastery of Arouca. In this architectural building of austere forms, the church and the choir emerged as distinct because of the balanced articulation between the architectural forms and the decorations in which the most representative artists have participated: woodcarving - Filipe da Silva, António Gomes and Miguel Francisco da Silva; stone sculpture in niches of the church and the choir, Jacinto Vieira; paintings in the chancel, André Gonçalves.

The monastery is one of the largest buildings in granite in Portugal.

Professor Doutor Manuel Joaquim Moreira da Rocha
(Director of the Sacred Art Museum of the Royal Brotherhood of Holy Queen Mafalda - Arouca)

Read more:
1. ROCHA, Manuel Moreira da – A Memória de um Mosteiro: Santa Maria de Arouca (Séculos XVII-XX). Das construções e das Reconstruções. Porto: Edições Afrontamento, 2011.
2. Cultural Heritage of General Direction -
Monuments -


Largo de Santa Mafalda
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