Everyone who tries to reach the heart of Arouca doesn’t arrive at the destination without crossing the greatest granite building of its nature, in Portugal. People say that Arouca was born and raised in the shadow of these walls. Not these walls, actually, since the early convent was built in another place, in the 10th century. Like any other land with a monastery, Arouca saw its economy, agriculture, gastronomy, culture, and of course, its religiosity influenced by the meaning of this building.
till the 12th
century, it began to receive the Cistercian Order until the end of
century. Product of several interventions, the present building dates
back to the 17th
centuries, and has beautiful spaces to offer, such as the Cloister,
the Choir and the Kitchen. Now, we open the door with the sound of
the old key, to increase awareness about one of the richest museums
of Sacred Art of the Iberian Peninsula. Come in. You are our guest.
silence is only broken by the sound of the water in the fountain, at
the center of the cloister. In the past, the busy nuns used to go
around here. They stopped here many times to reflect, read or pray.
Today, their remains lie under numbered rocks, in the same place
where they used to go around, reflect and read. In this place, they
found the silence that is only broken by the sound of the water in
quiet of the cloister becomes austere in the Chapter House. Over the
remains of the abbesses, in the tile frame, flanked by two big
windows, the abbess used to chair the most solemn meetings of the
Monastery. The trials happened here. The future was decided here. The
guidelines for the daily life were discussed here. Today, the only
thing that remains is the austere silence. Over the remains of the
shadow of the monumental organ, with the walls pierced by the carving
and the painting, the Queen continues to chair, at the back, the fate
of the Monastery, immortalized in the sculpture of Jacinto Vieira.
Next to Santa Mafalda, we can see nuns carved by the same author.
space is flooded with music that spreads over the jacaranda chairs,
each one with a carved frown, one of them wearing glasses, waiting to
be discovered. Separated from people by wooden frames, the nuns used
to attend mass here, putting the worship books in these stands,
seated or in mercy. In 1743, the organ gained voice, a voice that has
been restored in order to fill the space with music.
golden carving gains life through the whole temple, making room for
the remains of Santa Mafalda. Daughter of D. Sancho I, the second
King of Portugal, she rests in one of the wards of the Church.
Majestic, yet discrete, she lies behind the glass of the ebony tomb,
in her black garment.
sober, the Church is opened to the outside lighting, illuminating the
space and giving shape and color to the paintings, sculptures and the
big golden carving. Although this is a place for meditation and
praying, it is also a place of contemplation. Here, we cannot only
contemplate the divine mystery, but also the wonderful and handmade