Church of Saint Andrew of Vila Boa de Quires – Marco de Canaveses

Located on a broad and fertile territory where the Tâmega appears, this Church reveals the historical, architectural and social opulence that once distinguished Vila Boa Quires.

The historical documents indicate a possible foundation in the 11th century, with a highlight, in 1118, to its reference as a monastic institution – the monasterium que dicent Villa Bona de Queiriz -, a description that appears at least until 1258.

The architectural elements of this Church, dedicated to Saint Andrew, lead us to the second quarter of the 13th century. Its main façade, one of the most elaborate of the Baixo Tâmega, with a similar layout to the one of the Church of Barrô (Resende), deserves our special attention.

Its portal, stylistically close to one of the Monastery of Paço de Sousa (Penafiel), features capitals decorated with symmetrical motifs of vegetal flavour and corbels that are shaped as bovine heads.

The importance of the territory where the Church is located substantiates the existence of privileges that, in the 13th century, reveal the existence of the “couto” [place with privileges] of the Monastery, as well as of the “Honra” [territory] of Portocarreiro and of the “Honra” [territory] of Buriz.

Currently, some very impressive testimonies of the local landowning nobility are still preserved; a few unavoidable works are the tower of the Portocarreiro family, the House of Vila Boa and the unfinished house, better known as “Obras do Fidalgo” [Nobleman’s Works], with its exuberant palatial residence façade.

The low income collected by the monastic institute, despite the legacies left by the nobility, must have contributed to its secularization.

In 1320, when it was already a parish Church, it contributed with a tax of 30 Portuguese libras [former Portuguese currency unit]for the Crusades of the king D. Dinis; in 1536 it received the Commandment of the Order of Christ, held by the House of Bragança.

The connection of this Commendation to the titled nobility stands out by the profitability it had; in 1706, the Commander earned 600 thousand réis [former Portuguese currency unit], adding up to the income from the parish of Rande, in Penafiel.

In 1758, the graduate Tomás António de Noronha e Meneses, who signs the memorandum of Vila Boa Quires, refers that the territory is part of the boundaries and of the municipality of Portocarreiro, comprising half the parish, as well as the parishes of Abragão and Maureles; he highlights that the other half of the parish is part of the “couto” [place with privileges], together with part of the parishes of Recesinhos and Constância.

In 1853, Vila Boa Quires belonged to the municipality and judicial district of Penafiel, had 393 dwellings, was held by the House of Bragança and its rector received a rate of 250 réis [former Portuguese currency unit] from his parishioners. Currently, it integrates the group of parishes that make up the municipality of Marco de Canaveses.

History

11th century – Possible foundation of the cenoby of Vila Boa de Quires;

1118 – Reference to the monasterium que dicent Villa Bona de Queiriz;

1180 – Date supposedly found on an engraving discovered during the works that were carried out in 1881;

13th century – References to Vila Boa de Quires as a “couto” [place with privileges], to the “Honra” [territory] of Portocarreiro and to the “Honra” [territory] of Buriz;

13th century (2nd quarter or mid-century) – Construction of the existing Romanesque building of Vila Boa de Quires;

1320 – The Church of Vila Boa de Quires is secularized;

1536 – Vila Boa Quires becomes a Commendation of the House of Bragança;

17th century (1st half) – Tiling campaign in the chancel;

1706 – The Commander of Vila Boa de Quires was earning 600 thousand réis [former Portuguese currency unit], adding up to the income from the parish of Rande, Penafiel;

18th century (2nd half) – Painting campaign on the chancel’s vault;

19th century (last quarter) – Replacement of the main altarpiece, with a Baroque matrix, with the existing Neoclassical one;

1881 – Expansion of the Church: shifting of the main façade nearly 10 meters to the west; construction of the tower; preservation and restoration of the altarpieces;

1927 – Classification of the Church of Vila Boa de Quires as a National Monument;

1940-1970 – Implementation of several conservation works, paying a special attention to the Church’s roofs;

1947 – Installation of the clock on the bell tower;

1977 – Removal of the plaster from the naves and ceiling;
1999 – Improvement works on the Church’s roofs;

2010 – Integration of the Church of Saint Andrew of Vila Boa de Quires in the Route of the Romanesque.

Architecture and Furniture

The Church of Vila Boa de Quires comprises a single nave and a rectangular chancel, showing architectural elements with a great sculptural richness.

The portal, which is stylistically very close to the one of the Monastery of Paço de Sousa (Penafiel), is composed of four slightly broken archivolts, defined by a surrounding arch decorated with secant circles showing a double, centralized movement.

On the imposts, which extend themselves as a flat frieze across the entire length of this façade, we can find vegetal motifs, represented by stylized five-leaf ivy and vertical loose motifs.

On the flat tympanum, there is an inscription related to the late 19th-century expansion, which reads: EXTENDED IN 1881.

However, the greatest similarities with the portal of Paço de Sousa are identified in the carving style of the capitals and in the motifs of the corbels, shaped as bovine heads.

In the main portal, the capitals show symmetrical motifs, with a vegetal and stylized flavour, well attached to the frustum. The columns, alternately prismatic and cylindrical, constitute one more evidence of the chronological and stylistic integration of this Church in the movement of the so-called nationalised Romanesque.

The south lateral portal is also richly ornamented showing, like the main one, two carved corbels supporting the flat tympanum: a bovine head and a terrifying animal, with an open mouth, is biting a fruit.

Its capitals show clear similarities with the ones of the portal of Saint Genesius of Boelhe (Penafiel). Carved with bevels, they show elaborate vegetal motifs combined with phytomorphic compositions and, in the left inner capital, affronted animals remind us of the strength that oriental influences had among us.

From the three pointed archivolts, the two inner ones have sharp edges, while the outer one is dotted with pearls in its chamfer. We should note the initials found in the voussoirs.

In this south lateral elevation, we should also highlight the corbels that are supporting the cornice, which for being mostly flat and with a square profile, confirm the building’s late chronology. The existence of corbels halfway up the façade tells us about the prior existence of a porch-like structure.

Three broken arcosolia are carved into this façade’s wall face, at the nave’s ground level, showing sepulchral lids whose shape does not match the arch’s space. These three specimens stand out for the total absence of decorative motifs and for the fact that they do not have any identifying element regarding who is actually buried there

The north lateral façade is extremely simple. Narrow crevices illuminate the nave’s interior and the presence of corbels halfway up its elevation also confirm the presence of a now missing porch-like structure. However, its series of corbels is richer. Although they are mostly flat, there are two corbels that stand out for having the shape of a bovine head and a human face.

The care that was put into the finishings of the building’s back wall faces reveals the quality of those who worked in the Romanesque construction of this Church.

Inside, we can see the granite’s sobriety on the nave’s wall faces, which contrasts with the chancel’s colour. The broken triumphal arch is composed of three archivolts; the outer one is dotted with pearls and finished with the same motif that surrounds the main portal.

The capitals that support them are quite interesting; they feature sculpted palmettes and mermaids with intertwined tails. With a layout that is similar to the one of the apse of Abragão (Penafiel), the chancel is vaulted and has a transverse arch, supported by pilasters and decorated with palmettes carved in relief on the imposts.

From the Modern Period, we should highlight the Baroque programme that decorated the chancel, of which only the tile lining and the vault’s paintings have remained. This tiled ensemble, in shades of blue and yellow on a white background, creates an effect of deep contrast with the granite from the Church’s interior.

This lining is quite remarkable and shows a will to ennoble this space; however, they had to resort to a more cost-effective technique, which is nonetheless monumental due to the noble character it provides the space with. We are before a typical example of the carpet-type tile, which is so characteristic of the 17th century.

In the chancel, two pictorial sets of the brutesque type still remain, narrating the painful mysteries of the religious and civil proceedings of the Passion and Death of Christ in eight pictures. The composition, which repainted in a recent period, included the Romanesque decoration of the chancel arch, the archivolts and the intrados, up to the capitals’ level, recalling, as we’ve mentioned before – despite the time gap, the techniques and the underlying function -, the custom of applying polychrome paintings over the decoration and the structure of medieval churches.

In terms of the nave, we should highlight the collateral altars and their corresponding altarpieces, which were reconstructed at a date we ignore, reusing the Mannerist and Baroque structural and ornamental elements – despite being deeply damaged by the existing repaintings.

Along the nave’s side walls, some corbels show images that appeal to the local community devotion.

Regular guided visits

By appointment.

Opening times

Celebrations: Saturday – 4 pm (winter) or 5 pm (summer); sunday – 8 am and 11 am.

Building

Church of Saint Andrew of Vila Boa de Quires
Lugar da Igreja, Vila Boa de Quires
Marco de Canaveses
Portugal