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Portalegre Cathedral

Was created in 1550 by Pope Julius III's bull, being created during the reign of King João III

The first prelate to be appointed to the post of bishop of the new diocese was D. Julião de Alva, confessor to Queen D. Catarina. In the first years, the headquarters of the bishopric would be installed in the Church of Santa Maria do Castelo, since the works of the new cathedral began only in 1556. Until the end of the century, the building works would continue, having been the third bishop of the diocese, Frei Amador Arrais, doctor of Theology and one of the humanists in Cardinal D. Henrique's circle, who proceeded with the laying of the temple floor and the construction of the episcopal palace, having sponsored the painting of most of the Mannerist altarpieces placed in the chapels of the church. The building was completed in the early 17th century. In the following century, the building was added and modified, and the cloister was built in 1720.

Although there are several structural changes derived from the Baroque campaigns, the original typology of the Sé de Portalegre is part of the set of hall churches built throughout the kingdom from the 1950s on the 16th century, based on the Manueline style but using new structural elements, and developing a stripped and austere language, with military characteristics. Its design is attributed to the royal architect Miguel de Arruda, responsible for the "most important works of royal initiative" during the reign of D. João III (MOREIRA, Rafael, 1995, p.357), with the management of the works factory being position of master João Vaz.

The façade of the Cathedral is defined by two large lateral turrets, with the rhythm marked by the various buttresses, revealing the military formation of the project's author, while combining the baroque elements of the 1795 campaign, namely the portals, main and sides, and the several large windows that were torn to allow the interior lighting of the temple.

Inside, the plant has a wide, unitary structure, where Manueline structural elements were recreated, such as the ribbed vault - in a more refined model - which are integrated in a support structure inspired by classical treatises, examples of which are columns and modules of the naves, originating a morphology that was more adequate to "an intended functionality of spaces, closely linked to the ongoing Tridentine pastoral reform" (SERRÃO, Vítor, 2002, p.189). In contrast to the austerity of the space, the decorative program of the vaults shows us several grotesque motifs with Mannerist features, cards, masks, florets, hybrid beings, certainly inspired by the Flemish engravings that circulated throughout Europe at the time.

Also noteworthy are the various retable sets, with Mannerist canvases from Lisbon workshops. In the chancel, inserted in a magnificent altarpiece executed by Gaspar Coelho, were placed paintings by Fernão Gomes and Simão Rodrigues, with scenes from the Life of Christ and the Virgin; thus, in the first record the "Annunciation" and "Adoration of the Shepherds" were placed, in the second the "Adoration of the Magi", "Rest on the flight to Egypt" and the "Boy among Doctors", in the third, the " Resurrection "," Assumption of the Virgin "and" Pentecost ". The representation of the "Transfiguration of Christ" concludes the whole. On each side of the church, four chapels were opened; on the Gospel side, they are dedicated to Santa Catarina, São Crispim and São Crispiano,El Divino . On the Epistle side, they are the invocation of the Chagas, Santa Maria Maior, Nossa Senhora do Rosário and Santo Amaro. The side chapels are dedicated to Saint Peter and the Most Holy, with a painting by Calvary, from Diogo Teixeira's workshop.


Source: Catarina Oliveira DGPC ( www.patrimoniocultural.pt )