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THE ROMANESQUE

Church of Bravães | Ponte da Barca. West portal

chitecture within the context of the Romanesque style that was spreading across Portugal at the time. Together with the examples from Coimbra, the architecture built at the time in the Braga-Rates axis, around the Porto cathedral and on the left bank of river Minho is fine evidence of how Portuguese Romanesque builders were receptive to foreign influences. They spread out from these “centres”, and spread across the entire territory that, at the time, was being subject to a strong administrative organization in order to become Portugal. These influences were combined (as we can plainly see in the case of the Church of the Saviour of Bravães, in Ponte da Barca) and found a strong local substrate that played a not less important role in the design of what has come to be understood as the “Portuguese Romanesque style”.

One of the key aspects for grasping the nature of the Romanesque architecture built within Portuguese territory is precisely understanding its vernacularisation. Only the acceptance of this reality allows us to critically appraise the scale, the chronology and the apparent simplicity of Portuguese Romanesque architecture. In fact, there is a prevalence of small churches (except for the place taken by Romanesque cathedrals and by the churches of a few monasteries built by the Benedictines or the Canons Regular) designed according to a volumetric composition that comprised, essentially, a single nave and a square chancel. Responding to the network of parishes under construction - a key aspect to understand our Romanesque geography -, most religious buildings were intended to serve small communities of parishioners; actually, this fact also explains the close territorial proximity between most of the examples we currently know. Besides, they rely on a know-how that goes their own chronology and, in more peripheral places, was long-lasting used together with other plastic languages that were gradually asserting themselves in the main artistic centres of the time. Finally, reflecting all these aspects, Portuguese Romanesque architecture is particularly feeble in terms of major architectural sculpture compositions. Essentially based on friezes, imposts, corbels, archivolts and capitals, the repertoire of our ornamental sculpture tends to use geometric motifs that are repeated pretty much everywhere. Nevertheless, we find a predominance of animal representations in capitals and corbels over human figurations, whose examples are quite fewer among us. Considering that, in the case of the Entre-Douro-e-Minho region, most buildings are concentrated in the basins of the most important rivers, and despite

Guide Route of the Romanesque of the Sousa Valley  

An experience embedded in history. A Route founded in the memories of the Romanesque, inviting you on an inspiring journey through places wi...

Guide Route of the Romanesque of the Sousa Valley  

An experience embedded in history. A Route founded in the memories of the Romanesque, inviting you on an inspiring journey through places wi...