Monastery of São Martinho de Tibães

Portugal is a land full of mysteries, stories, legends and hidden places we thought never existed, and which transport us to other times. This is the case with the Monastery of São Martinho de Tibães, which provides the backdrop for the Roots editorial in this magazine.

The Benedictine monastery was founded towards the end of the 11th century, and its feudal rights granted by Henry of Burgundy, Count of Portugal in 1110. During medieval times, the monastery became the owner of vast properties. In 1567 it became the mother house of the Order of St Benedict for Portugal and Brazil.

During the first half of the 17th century the monks began a radical rebuilding project that gave rise to the set of buildings that exist today. The early works followed the Mannerist style, but during the later 17th and 18th centuries, baroque and rococo influences dominated.

Of all the buildings, the church is most noteworthy as one of the country’s most grandiose temples and as one of the most important examples of baroque art in Portugal. With the extinction of the religious orders in 1834, all of their possessions were inventoried and then sold. In 1864 the monastery and its surroundings, with the exception of the church, sacristy and cemetery cloister, passed into private hands. Purchased by the Portuguese state in 1986, already in a condition of near ruin, work began to restore and revitalise it. In 1995 a project was launched to restore the monastery, work that was completed in 2010 when Tibães was returned to its former glory to become one of the most beautiful monuments in the north of the country.

It is a place that breathes time and history, and as such is well worth visiting.

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