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Convento Santa Maria de Mosteiró

relevance for the project

It needs restoration works, it is relevant for architectural and environmental issues.


The convent of Santa Maria de Mosteiró originated from a previous hermitage founded in 1392 by the friars Diogo Árias, Gonçalo Martinho, and Pedro Dias. Similarly to the first settlements of the Franciscan Observance movement in Portugal, this hermitage was founded in an isolated place named Godim or Gondim, close to important waterlines, surrounded by brush and near an existing chapel. A first hermitage was built south of a chapel dedicated to Nossa Senhora, on flat land in Cerdal, Valença do Minho, on the Santiago itinerary. Santa Maria de Mosteiró was probably the first settlement to be founded within the Franciscan Observance, as highlighted by the chronicler Lisboa (1570) and taking into account its location. Indeed, considering that the friars came from Galicia and that Valença was the territory closest to the borders with Spain, it is possible that they started from here before proceeding south to the other foundations.
In 1491 the community was integrated into the Observance of the Province of Portugal. The structure of Santa Maria de Mosteiró expanded, developing into a convent since 1557, and integrated the Province of Santo António in 1568. In 1706 it became part of the Province of Conceição, until the dissolution of religious orders in 1834.
The church of Santa Maria de Mosteiró was unused for 50 years. Only in 1884 was it donated to the Confrary of Nossa Senhora de Mosteiró. In 1980 the Confrary renovated the churchyard and carried out conservation works of the church, repairing its roof.
Both the conventual dependencies and the church were classified as “Assets of Public Interest” in 1983. In the 1990’s, Dalio Gama developed a project for the refunctionalization of the space and its physical adaptation into a tourist accommodation. However, this project was not actualized. This area is completely in ruin today, with exception of the part adjacent to the church, which is currently used by the Cerdal Parish.
The convent of Santa Maria de Mosteiró is located in an isolated area about 5 km from Cerdal, in Valença. The conventual complex is set on the slope of the Gondelim Hill Chain, west-facing, at about 240 meters high. The convent is surrounded by an enclosure, a physical boundary between the interior, the sacred place, and the outside world.
The current morphology of Santa Maria de Mosteiró is the result of several reforms and rebuilds over the centuries, mostly starting from 1557, with strong impact from the integration into the Province of Conceição. Despite the alterations, the original trace is still evident. Indeed, this convent, as well as the others which evolved from medieval settlements – Santa Maria da Ínsua in Caminha and San Francisco do Monte in Viana do Castelo – did not achieve the formal regularity prescribed by the Province of Conceição. Even in its plan, the analyzed convent is not a regular rectangle, with a small distortion in the northeast corner.
The evolution of this convent from a medieval structure is proven by the east-orientation of the church and the presbytery, as was common in that period – east-by-southeast in this case.
The architecture is guided by an austere style in keeping with their pauperistic intent, with exception of the interior of the church, which presents baroque gilded woodcarving that later included neoclassical elements. The church is longitudinal in shape and composed of a single nave with a pseudo-transept and a straight termination presbytery – the main chapel that is narrower and lower, compared with the nave. Surrounded by covered corridors, the cloister is quadrangular in shape and located against the church’s north side wall, serving as a hinge between the church and the conventual dependencies. It is the main distribution center for the surrounding spaces: chapter room, refectory, kitchen, and chapter house on the ground floor; dormitories and the library on the first floor. The cloister comprises covered galleries on the ground floor, in which pseudo three-centered arches are sustained by Tuscan columns. This element opens through seven arcades per wing. In this way, the cloister was accessed through the central arch.


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Teixeira, V. G. (2010) O movimento da observância franciscana em Portugal, 1392-1517: história, património e cultura de uma experiência de reforma religiosa. pp. 154-157. Porto: Centro de Estudos Franciscanos; Braga: Editorial Franciscana.


Valença, Norte, Portugal

-8.591493, 41.977347


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