General Information
Ponte da Veiga  
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  • Name: Bridge of Veiga
  • Typology: Bridge
  • Classification: Submitted to classification
  • Municipality: Lousada
  • Visiting Hours: Free 
  • Entrance Fee: Free 
  • Support Services:
  • Telephone : 255 810 706 / 918 116 488 
  • Fax: 255 810 709 
  • E-Mail: rotadoromanico@valsousa.pt  
  • Web: www.rotadoromanico.com 
  • Location:
    Rua da Ponte da Veiga, Torno, Lousada,Porto.
  • Geographic Coordinates: 41° 17' 57.72" N / 8° 13' 3.55" O 
History
History
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Bridge of Veiga (Photo: © SIPA – IHRU)Located in the parish of Torno, municipality of Lousada, the Bridge of Veiga joins the banks of the Sousa river between the places of Rio and Cachada. This Bridge was probably built during the first half of the 15th century.

Its foundation can be linked to the Monastery of Pombeiro (Felgeiras) considering that São Fins de Torno had belonged to the patronage of that monastic house. In other words, the construction of the Bridge was probably the result of an intervention from the abbots of Pombeiro, aiming to ensure local or regional traffic over the river Sousa.

Besides, friar Amaro - the commendatory abbot of Pombeiro - arrived in Torno in 1427 fleeing from the plague and he could have commissioned this work.

This was the ancient route that headed from the old Marian sanctuary of Our Lady Appeared towards Unhão - the municipality into which this Bridge was integrated until the 19th century and that, currently, is one of the parishes of the Felgueiras municipality.

In that sense, more than being a symbol of national or trans-regional routes - often associated with pilgrimage routes -, the Bridge of Veiga falls within the parish or municipal crossing category, serving ecclesiastical, feudal or secular interests by ensuring the circulation and flow across the meadows of the Sousa river.

Historical Figures
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D. Friar Amaro
He was the first commendatory abbot of the Monastery of Pombeiro and the confessor of Queen Philippa of Lancaster (1359-1415), the queen consort of Portugal by marriage to King João I (1357-1433).


Gonçalo Mendes de SousaGonçalo Mendes de Sousa
Gonçalo Mendes de Sousa, the Good (1120-1190), participated together with King D. Afonso Henriques, first king of Portugal, in the Battle of Ourique (July 25th, 1139) against the Muslim troops, which were considerably larger in number.

He was the son of D. Mem Viegas de Sousa and of D. Teresa Fernandes de Marnel and got married several times. D. Mendo de Sousa, the Sousão, was born from his first marriage to D. Urraca Sanches de Celanova.  His second marriage was to Dórdia Viegas, the daughter of Egas Moniz - the Schoolmaster and Governor of King D. Afonso Henriques - and Teresa Afonso.

The parish of São Fins do Torno and its church are already documented in the 12th century as being part of the assets of the Monastery of Pombeiro, something that local people did not understand, because this land had belonged to the Sousões family during the 11th century.

Based on this fact, at the turn of the 12th to the 13th century, Gonçalo Mendes de Sousa unlawfully seized these lands and church in a desperate attempt to pay existing debts and enforce his family rights. But this usurpation was quickly remedied with the restitution of the assets to the Monastery of Pombeiro by the nobleman Sousão, possibly because he feared the "Last Judgement".

Legends and Curiosities
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The Legend of Our Lady Appeared
This legend is closely related to the pilgrimage which takes place every year in the parish of Torno on August 13th, 14th and 15th. By all accounts, in 1823, it is not exactly known how someone discovered the image of the Our Lady Appeared on the existing churchyard of the Church of Our Lady of Conception.

This discovery was apparently preceded by strange signs that kept coming from the sky towards the entrance of an old dry mine that was located right on the churchyard's spot.

According to the legend, this mine worked as a shelter to a hermit, whose origins were unknown, but who was held in high esteem by everyone and had a small shrine with the image of the Virgin Mary in his shelter. Animals and children would get together in the shelter to hear his stories.

The fact is that, one day the hermit disappeared without any apparent explanation. Until the time when the signs, lightnings and stars, began falling in the mouth of the mine where he had lived. The situation encouraged the inhabitants to excavate the site and the rags of the hermit appeared immediately, together with the image of the Virgin Mary... Appeared!

Chronology
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1427 - Fleeing the plague, Friar Amaro - the commander of Pombeiro - takes refuge in São Fins de Torno, which was the abbey's church;

15th century (1st half) - Construction of the Bridge of Veiga;

17th-18th centuries - Conduction of conservation and strengthening works;

1726 - Francisco Craesbeeck mentions the existence of parapets on the Bridge;

1758 - The Vicar of Torno, Félix Borges, points out that within the limits of his parish there was only one masonry Bridge, which had a single arch;

20th century - Subject to motor-vehicle traffic, the Bridge of Veiga degrades and is replaced by a concrete pontoon;

2010 – Integration of the Bridge of Veiga in the Route of the Romanesque.

Specialities
Architecture
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The stone Bridge of Veiga features a single arch, which is slightly broken, with narrow and long voussoirs that show stonemason initials.

The arch begins at ground level giving little expression to the trestle-shaped deck. Considering that it had a single arch and that the river's current did not justify it, they chose not to provide the Bridge with cut-waters (which would allow cutting the current and preventing the structure from being continually under pressure or struck by debris) or buttresses (used to sustain the current's thrust and pressure).

Although, in 1726, Francisco da Serra Craesbeeck describes the Bridge of Veiga with parapets around it, these no longer exist nowadays and the original pavement was substantially modified.

The parapets, with two rows of ashlars on each side of the road, protected the pedestrians or cars against falls, defining the Bridge's circulation space.

Restoration and Enhancement
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Due to the deterioration caused by natural elements - a more abundant river flow in flood seasons - and civilization elements - the motor-vehicle traffic that used it and even caused the collapse of its arch -, the Bridge of Veiga underwent several restoration works over the centuries aiming to strengthen its structure, as evidenced by the existence of stones with different types of faces and textures.

In the mid-20th century, it was replaced by a new concrete crossing, leaving the medieval Bridge in ruins and abandoned. However, its integration in the Route of the Romanesque will enable the design of a project that will bring back the medieval elegance and dignity it showed for so many centuries.

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Bibliography

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