In the land of the valleys of Tâmega and Sousa, in the heart of the North of Portugal, stands an important architectural heritage of Romanesque origin. This exceptional legacy is seen in 58 monuments that carry legends and stories born with the foundation of the Nationality and which witness the significant role that this territory formerly played in the history of the nobility and religious orders in Portugal. Here you will feel the magic of discovering lands inhabited, in the 12th century, by three of the five families who made up the first Portuguese nobility. Wander along paths that reveal surprises at every turn. Surrender to the perfect harmony between nature and historical legacies. Admire capitals, columns, archivolts and ornamental motives that represent the excellence in the Portuguese Romanesque. A Route founded in the memories of the Romanesque, inviting you on an inspiring journey through places with history, near singular monasteries, churches, chapels, bridges, castles, towers and memorials, matured in a land forged in green, full of wisdom and flavours.
Felgueiras: Monastery of Santa Maria of Pombeiro
A visit to the Monastery of Saint Mary of Pombeiro should start in a place overlooking the valley in order to fully appreciate the location of one of the most important Benedictine monasteries of the region between the Douro and Minho Rivers regarding the richness of the building program.
The choice of its location still indicates how the monastic communities sought to build in the best farming lands, in plain areas, abundant in water. The oldest documented reference concerning Pombeiro is from 1099, recording the existence of a coenobium. However, it is even more significant for the understanding of this monastic house’s history the document from February 10th 1102. The construction of the Church as it is today, although highly renovated in the 17th and 18th centuries, corresponds to the work of the Romanesque period, probably initiated in the last quarter of the 12th century, but only finished in the first decades of the 13th century. So seem to indicate the typology of the rosette in the West façade and the West portal’s sculpture and projection.
Paços de Ferreira: Monastery of Saint Peter of Ferreira
The Church of the Monastery of Saint Peter of Ferreira is one of the most elaborate monuments of the Portuguese Romanesque. The origins of this monastery are still surrounded in mystery, although it is prior to 1182, when the Church is explicitly referred and the current temple began to be built. However, its origins are much older, presumably from the 10th century, as stated in the reference made to it in the will of Mumadona Dias, from 959. Nothing remains from this period in the temple’s construction, since the oldest elements are related to the original Romanesque church, built between the late 11th and early 12th century.
Amarante: Monastery of the Saviour of Travanca
The Church of the Savior of Travanca falls within the small number of churches with three naves built in Portugal during the Romanesque period, because most of the churches of this period feature a single nave. Thus, Travanca can be included in the so-called “Portuguese Benedictine style”. Tradition says that Garcia Moniz, son of Moninho Viegas, the Gasco, was the founder of the Monastery of the Saviour of Travanca in the second half of the 11th century.
Penafiel: Monastery of the Saviour of Paço de Sousa
The Church of the Monastery of the Saviour of Paço de Sousa is a central monument in the context of the Romanesque architecture in the Sousa Valley. Its singular features in architecture and in sculpture, and the fact that it retains the tomb of Egas Moniz, turn this former Benedictine monastery into one of the most appealing and prestigious testimonies of the Portuguese Romanesque architecture.
Celorico de Basto: Castle of Arnoia
Featuring a triangular shield-shaped plan, the Castle of Arnoia is built on the top of a mountainous hill, with the aim of favouring the field of vision and taking advantage of the chances provided by the ground’s steep morphology for defence purposes, according to a concept of passive defence, seeking to prevent the enemy from reaching the base of its walls. The oldest known documented reference regarding the Castle of Arnoia dates back to 1064, alluding to the Castellum Celorici et oppido ibi.