Located on a hill overlooking the valley, the Church of Telões seems to confirm its origin in the Royal Estate legend says was taken from the grandson of the Moorish king in the skirmishes of the Reconquest.
The anonymous narrator further tells that, being the pious nobleman Rodrigo Froiaz one of the masters of the said estate, he commissioned the building of a monastery in that same place, where he put as first abbot D. Gusmão Pais, all in 887
Although the date coincides with the strategic advancement of King Afonso III of Asturias (848-910) till the line of the Douro, there is no documentation to confirm the foundational act or even indicate who the first abbot really was.
However, given the persistent interference, in the following centuries, of manorial power in Telões, we can integrate it into the series of churches or family monasteries abundantly established to the north of the Douro until the 11th century.
Although the “Inquirições” [administrative enquiries] of King Afonso II (1220) and Afonso III (1258) present the Monastery of Telões allocated to the “Terra” or “Julgado” [Jurisdiction] of Basto, a little less than a century and a half later, in 1320, royal collectors refer to it as belonging to the Terra de Sousa, bearing the name of Church of Tolões.
In the mid-16th century and despite the title of Monastery that João de Barros grants to the edification, the parish condition of the Church was fully consolidated, dispossessed of any monastic space – although nominally the memory of the latter would linger on.
The Church of Telões was, throughout its existence, profoundly transformed, its chevet holding the main traces of Romanesque times.
The changes are visible in the vestments of the nave, in the construction of the galilee, in the sacristy, or in the rectangular large windows on the side walls of the body and the apse opened during the Early Modern Period.
But it was in the 16th century that one of the most significant transformations in this Church occurred, resulting in an extended campaign of mural painting. Currently, of this campaign, small sections are still visible on the front wall of the nave and on the apse.
In the first, a Nativity scene, overlapping a previous layer, which has been attributed to the workshop identified with the one belonging to the Master Delirious of Guimarães. Meanwhile, on the back wall of the apse and its adjacent, at the centre of the composition, the figure of Saint Andrew, of which we can still see on the bottom his bare feet, part of his robe and the cross of his martyrdom, topped by angelsholding wreath-arranged beads, is hidden by the neoclassical altarpiece.
It turns out, however, that in the 17th and 18th centuries these paintings were replaced with new altars with their altarpieces, thus reflecting the new invocations required and which still persist in part: in the altarpiece, on both collaterals (of previous chronology and in the Mannerist-style) and on both sides, built-in on open arches in the vestment (the one in the north side in national style and the other one in Johannine-style).
By the 11th century – Likely chronology for the foundation of the Monastery of Telões;
13th Century – Telões was allocated to the “Terra” or “Julgado” [Jurisdiction] of Basto;
13th Century (1st half) – Possible chronology for the edification of the Romanesque Church based on the remaining traces;
1269 – Domingos Pais, canon of the Cathedral of Porto, left a series of lamps to the Monastery of Telões for lighting and decoration of the altars of Saint Lawrence and Saint Mary Magdalene;
1320 – The Church of Telões in the Terra de Sousa is referred to as contributing with 1200 crusaders to the Crusades;
1475 – The patronage of the Monastery of Telões is transferred to the Collegiate of Our Lady of Oliveira (Guimarães);
16th Century (early) – First campaign for mural paintings in the Church;
1510-1580 – Several interventions in the Church are documented, recommended by diocesan “visitadores” [inspectors];
1782-1784 – Construction of the side altars as the “visitadores” [inspectors] indicate;
19th Century – Implementation of a fifth altarpiece for the Church of Telões;
1831 – The devotees in Telões request larger bells;
1864 – The Church of Telões is deemed to be in a reasonable state of preservation;
1972-1977 – Process for the classification of the Church of Telões as Building of Public Interest;
1980 – Lowering of the tow high-choirs that existed over the main door;
80s – Several works of conservation and restoration were carried out in the Church;
2005-2009 – Action for the safeguarding of the construction of Telões, including its movable assets and the reformulation of the area for the Eucharistic celebration;
2006 – Discovery of the mural paintings in the Church of Telões;
2010 – Integration of the Church of Saint Andrew of Telões in the Route of the Romanesque.
Architecture and Furniture
Despite its undisputed Romanesque origin, whose main remains are most revealing in the chevet, the Church of Telões saw its early edification be profoundly transformed over the centuries, stressing an evident desire for an aesthetic upgrade and adaptation to new liturgies.
With a rectangular plan, the apse of Telões was certainly designed to be vaulted as shown by the exterior buttresses, finishing well below the cornice, and arranged in the side vestments and back wall.
Considering their shape, Manuel Real associated them to an Asturian tradition. Although the author claims the early character of this Romanesque specimen, which places it in the first half of the 12th century, Carlos Alberto Ferreira de Almeida states a more recent chronology to the set of Romanesque traces found in Telões.
Thus, the stylistic elements of the cruise arch provide evidence of a late chronology: the bulb-shaped bases are evolved, the imposts seem late and the robust capitals feature botanic themes already quite attached to the basket.
Moreover, the main portal, sheltered by the Modern Era galilee, takes us to the “românico de resistência” [resistance Romanesque]: composed of three broken archivolts with sharp edges and no ornamentation, does not bear any columns, so these sit directly on the wall. With a flat tympanum, the fluted corbels stand as the single decorated element of the ensemble.
The vestments of the nave, where simply or plainly decorated modillions can be found, identical to those of the apse, confirm this quite late chronology, while showing a considerable number of scars, thus reflecting the experiences that the primitive edification of Telões went through.
Also the flower design of the oculus, which in the main façade hangs above the portal, corroborates this quite late chronology. This should not be a surprise to us if we remember that, in the close region of Vale do Sousa, Romanesque architecture features an identical overview in terms of its chronological definition.
Regular guided visits