Church of Saint Mary Major of Tarouquela - Rota do Românico

The Church of Tarouquela is all that remains of a monastery of Benedictine nuns who laboured here until the 16th century.

Founded in the 12th century, it was in the following century, already under the Benedictine reform, that the existing temple was erected. It is under this religious order's influence that the Romanesque reaches the site of Tarouquela, since sculptural themes as antithetical animals, two men with one single head, serpents and mermaids, among others, are frequent in Benedictine churches.

Outside the Church stands the main portal, whose tympanum, decorated with a floral motif, appears guarded by two quadrupeds from whose jaws human figures hang. These sculptures, which the population calls dogs of Tarouquela, appear to be representations intended to keep the evil away.

The corbels also feature fantastic ornamentation, figurative or animal, as the exhibitionist, hidden since the 15th century by the Chapel of Saint John, now the sacristy. This structure, which announces the introduction of the Gothic style, was built between 1481 and 1495, marking the relation of this monastery with the noble families of the region that, through the abbesses, here imposed their ruling.

Inside, the sculpture of the enthroned Virgin nursing the Child, from the 16th century, and possibly from a workshop in Brussels, stands out.

Type: Church

Classification: National Monument - 1945

Route: Douro Valley

1134 - Prince D. Afonso Henriques donates the manor of Tarouquela to Egas Moniz and his wife; its (extensive) limits show the territory's importance and value; nevertheless, in the same year, they traded the manor for a horse with Ramiro Gonçalves and his wife D. Ouruana Nunes;

1162 - According to Viterbo, at least from this year onwards, there was a Convent in Tarouquella, in which the Rule of Saint Augustine was kept;

1171 - The bishop of Lamego recognizes the existence of the Monastery, founded by Ramiro Gonçalves, dubbed "o Quartela", and D. Ouruana;

1185 or 1187 - The founders' children and grandchildren confirmed the donation of their church, of prior foundation, to the Monastery, endorsing it to D. Urraca Viegas, who was also the founders' granddaughter, for her to rule it spiritually and temporally;

1187-1194 - With the support of her relatives, the abbess managed to change the habit in Tarouquela;

Late 12th century/early 13th century - Construction of the Church of the Monastery of Tarouquela;

1214 - Possible consecration or completion of the chancel, according to an inscription identified by Mário Barroca;

1232 - According to the news of the foundation of the Monastery of Tarouquela, drafted in the 17th century, D. Urraca would have donated all her possessions to the Monastery;

1291-1340 - The office of D. Aldonça Martins de Resende was one of the most active in Tarouquela;

1312 - It was confirmed that the archbishop of Santiago had no rights over the crops due to the Church of Tarouquela;

1315 - D. Rodrigo, bishop of Lamego, ended the dispute he had begun with Tarouquela;

14th century (Second half) - The Monastery of Tarouquela enters the Pintos' sphere of influence;

From the 15th century onwards - There is an actual permanence of certain families at the head of the Monastery of Tarouquela;

1481-1495 - Construction of the Chapel of Saint John the Baptist, during the reign of King D. João II and due to a bond established by Vasco Lourenço;

Around 1500 - Design of the image of the Virgin of the Milk;

1514 - King D. Manuel I orders the foundation of a Monastery in Porto to incorporate the female institutes of Tarouquela, Tuías, Vairão, Vila Cova and Rio Tinto;

1535 - An alderwoman moves to Tarouquela, to calm the turmoil resulting from the royal will to extinguish the Monastery and prepare the transition to the Monastery of Saint Benedict of Hail-Mary, in Porto;

1536 - The nuns of Tarouquela are transferred to the Convent in Porto; the external administration of Tarouquela from this Monastery begins;

17th-18th century - Expansion works in the chancel of Tarouquela;

1713 - Of the former monastic complex of Tarouquela, only the parish lands and residence are documented;

1758 - There were almost no traces of the monastic space;

1945 - Listing of the Church of Tarouquela as a National Monument;

1970s - Conduction of major restoration works in the Church of Tarouquela, under the responsibility of DGEMN – Direção Geral dos Edifícios e Monumentos Nacionais [General Directorate for Buildings and National Monuments];

2010 - Integration of the Church of Saint Mary Major in the Route of the Romanesque;

2014-2015 - Works for the general conservation of the Church, mostly at the levels of the roofs and external walls, under the scope of the Route of the Romanesque.

Saint Mary Major – 5th August

By appointment

Saturday - 3.30/5 pm (winter/summer); Sunday - 9.30 am

Monument not accessible to visitors with reduced mobility.

+351 255 810 706

+351 918 116 488

How to get here:

41.069675, -8.187931

Rua de Santa Maria Maior, Tarouquela, Cinfães, Viseu

Northern Portugal: A28/A3/A24/A7/A11 » A4 (Vila Real) » Marco de Canaveses » Cinfães » Rota Românico/Igreja de Tarouquela.

Porto: A4 (Vila Real) » Marco de Canaveses » Cinfães » Rota Românico/Igreja de Tarouquela.

Central/Southern Portugal: A1 (Porto)/ A29 (V.N. Gaia) » A41 CREP » A4 (Vila Real) » Marco de Canaveses » Cinfães » Rota Românico/Igreja de Tarouquela.

Cinfães: N222 Castelo de Paiva » Rota Românico/Igreja de Tarouquela.

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