General Information
Church of Saint Michael of Entre-os-Rios 
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  • Name: Church of Saint Michael of Entre-os-Rios
  • Typology: Church
  • Classification: National Monument, by Decree 14 425, DG 228 of 15th October 1927
  • Municipality: Penafiel
  • Patron Saint´s Day: Our Lady of Eja - Sunday following 29th September   
  • Worship Hours: Saturday - 6 pm   
  • Visiting Hours: By appointment   
  • Support Services:
  • Telephone : +351 255 810 706 / +351 918 116 488 
  • Fax: +351 255 810 709 
  • E-Mail: rotadoromanico@valsousa.pt  
  • Web: www.rotadoromanico.com 
  • Location:
    Lugar de Entre-os-Rios, Eja, Penafiel, Porto.
  • Geographic Coordinates: 41° 5' 0.12" N / 8° 17' 57.94" W 
History
History
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Church of Saint Michael of Entre-os-RiosThe territory of Tâmega and Sousa assumes strategic importance during the Christian Reconquest of King D. Alfonso III of Asturias.

 The domain upon the river Douro constituted, from the proto-history, a feature that made Entre-os-Rios a prime location for deployment of housing.  Traces of a fortified wall and records the discovery of late Roman pottery are evidence of the occupation of territory.

The Church of Saint Michael stands on a small plateau, illustrating the strategic importance of the site chosen to build this monument late Romanesque.

The first time that the Church is referenced in the documents is in the “Livro de Testamentos de Paço de Sousa” [Book of Testaments of Paço de Sousa], dated 1095, which mentions a donation of part of the Monastery Church.  Another document from 1120 gives notice of a new donation of part of the same Church Monastery.

The late Romanesque architecture dates it erection after the fourteenth century, i.e., the original building would have undergone profound remodelling over time.

Experts believe that when the building was erected, the centre of regional decision-making had long left Eja, fact explained by the modesty of the building:  temple of single nave and quadrangular chancel, narrower and  lower than the body; sparsely fenestrated elevations and devoid of relevant decorative details; the main façade of humble volume, torn by the pointed arch portal that overlaps a small opening; also pointed triumphal arch, summarily decorated with geometric and vegetal motifs.

The Low Middle Ages and Modernity left few marks on the Church, which was not verified in the baroque period, during which the altar was renewed, with placement of gold leaf gild, of national style, cut by three round arches.

In the following century, the works of aesthetic upgrade continued, erecting the choir and introducing the side altars.

Legends and Curiosities
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Church of Saint Michael of Entre-os-RiosThe parish of Eja was, in the eighteenth century, a small village comprising 30 dwellings and about one hundred inhabitants, spread over five villages or small hamlets. The parish Church was isolated at the top of a hill overlooking the Douro.
  
There are testimonies of this isolation already in 1758. Despite this circumstance, the Church was attended every Saturday due to the religious services regularly performed there. According to historians, it was through this systematic religious gathering that the collective spirit of unity was practised.

Chronology
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11th century - Original Edification (now gone);

13th or 14th century – Edification of the Church;

18th century - Extension and heightening of the chevet and placement of the main altar;

19th century - Placement of the side altars and the pulpit;

20th century – Placing the lining of glazed tiles;

1936 – Conservation and restoration works;

1964 – Restoration works carried out by the priest;

1980 – Cleaning the surrounding vegetation;

1981 – Repairing the covering and carpentry;

1982 – General conservation and repair works;

1998 – The Church of Saint Michael of Entre-os-Rios is included in the Route of the Romanesque of Vale do Sousa;

2003 – Works for the general preservation of roofing, batters and exterior spans;

2004 – Works for the general preservation of pavements, batters and ceilings;

2005 – Works for the general preservation of roofing, batters and exterior spans carried out in the scope of the project Route of the Romanesque of Vale do Sousa.

Specialities
Architecture
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The property is an example of religious, Romanesque, Baroque and neoclassical architecture comprised of a Church with a longitudinal plant and single nave, with the main façade in gable, with side bell, and refurbished interior with Baroque altarpiece and neoclassical nave laterals.

Plan of the Church of Saint Michael of Entre-os-Rios

This Church's architecture presents portals bare of columns and tympani, where the arches are systematically broken. There are many indicators of a chronology close to the Gothic period, despite numerous references to the Romanesque.

The Church does not make use of capitals and the resort to lines of ashlars as support for the arches, as well as the use of decorative elements of bezel geometrized foliage, are evidence of that later construction.

The plan follows the rules of the Romanesque, with a single nave and rectangular chevet, although the original chevet has been stretched and changed in the eighteenth century.

Plans of the Church of Saint Michael of Entre-os-Rios

The construction of the Church resorted to granite blocks prepared, in pseudo-isodome arrays, mostly without abbreviations, contrasting with what was usual at this time.

The simplified main façade is finished by a pointed arch sitting on lines of ashlars and the upper finishing is made of pediment with cross in the vortex, crowned in the flanks by two pinnacles from the 18th century.

The medieval belfry would have been located in this pediment, as demonstrate the traces of the rope or chain to ring the bell over the main portal.

Memories of the Romanesque persist in the lateral façades, particularly in the corbels that support the roof drip due to its shape, size and absence of sculpture.

The north portal, in broken arch, was more richly decorated, being framed by an archivolt decorated with diamond-tipped motifs and bezel geometrized eight-petal leaves, like the arch of the cross inside.

Here outstands the wooden coverage of the nave, separated from the chevet by cross arch with broken span, based on lines of ashlars, without columns and decorated with botanic elements.

In the chancel’s North wall there is an arcosolium from the time of the medieval Church, destined to house a tomb, which was partially cut by the placement of a door, in the Modern Period’s restoration campaign. The altars, pulpit, and the lighting spans are the result of interventions in the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Surroundings
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In the scope of the Study for the Enhancement and Protection of the Monuments of the  Route of the Romanesque of the Vale do Sousa, in which the guidelines and framework of the subsequent development of technical projects for implementation and respective works for the enhancement and protection of the surroundings were defined, the conditions considered most relevant for the preservation and requalification of the surroundings were described.

The aim of this Study is to preserve the context in which these are integrated, namely the integration of constraints on legal provisions - such as Special Protection Areas - restricting urban interventions that may endanger the integrity of the surroundings.

Surroundings of the Church of Saint Michael of Entre-os-Rios

We also proceeded to the definition of areas and interventions of general nature to take into account in the surroundings, in order to extend the planning to a wider area and allow better circulation of tourists in the region.

Finally, the Study defined the priority interventions to be carried out in the surroundings, to allow the stabilization of the territories and, simultaneously, correct and/or create structures and supporting infrastructures.

According to the Study, the surroundings consolidated around this property should be subject to maintenance, with particular emphasis on the conservation and replacement of the pavement in the path which leads to the Church.

Taking advantage of this intervention, the air wirings should become underground, at the same time that specific lighting of the monument and the road should be designed.

According to this Study, the nuclei of forest adjacent to the road leading to the Church should be subject to a general enhancement, through a clearing in a 15-meter wide range, with removal of dry branches, dead trees and ivy that climb the trees. The public restrooms should also be a priority.

Restoration and Enhancement
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The works of conservation and restoration in this monument were carried out in 2005 between July and September, including the altarpiece, the painting on the ceiling, the paintings and plaster on the joints of the chancel windows and the painting of the door to the sacristy.

Restoration and Enhancement of the Church of Saint Michael of Entre-os-Rios

The altarpiece, dating from the first quarter of the eighteenth century in national Baroque style, was executed in gilt on chestnut wood.

The painting on the ceiling was prepared on chestnut according to a configuration called "caixotones" (cases). The first row next to the altar would be from the same period as the altarpiece, however the rest of the ceiling would be from the nineteenth century.

The painting on the door of the sacristy would be probably from the nineteenth century, having been carried out on chestnut with an undefined artistic style, much like the one in the windows of the chancel. These polychrome paintings on granite stone would also be from the same period, but with poor artistic value.

The treatments made to fix the polychrome and gilded surfaces included the adherence of the detachments of the work layers through the use of an adhesive applied with a metal spatula.

Then, an acrylic-type copolymer of ethyl methacrylate diluted to 10 percent with aromatic hydrocarbons was applied.

In the review and structural reinforcement of the structure, the interior back surfaces of the altarpiece and the exterior surfaces  were attached with stainless steel screws. The broken elements were fixed and the joints and open cracks put together with polyvinyl acetate resin and mechanical grip and stainless steel screws.

Restoration and Enhancement of the Church of Saint Michael of Entre-os-Rios

The volumetric elements in the process of mechanical detachment were disassembled and fixed through stainless metal elements and put together with polyvinyl acetate resin and mechanical grip through wiretaps.

The tribune of the altarpiece was dismantled and reassembled with plywood panelling, thus fixing the gild fragments that came from the original ceiling of the chancel, but that were no longer complete, thus proceeding to the restoration of the central panel.

The woodwork received an immunization treatment against attacks by xylophagous insects and microorganisms through the application by spraying and injecting of insecticide / fungicide products. Aimed at consolidating and strengthening the weak areas of woodwork with vulnerable mechanical resistance, an acrylic-type copolymer of ethyl methacrylate, dissolved in solvent with medium volatility and in increasing concentrations of 8, 15 and 20 percent, was applied by injection and brush.

The metallic elements were the subject of mechanical removal of surface oxidation and stabilization of this process through the application of tannic acid dissolved in distilled water and ethanol, protected with antioxidant varnish.

The area of the sacrarium was completely removed and rebuilt using marine plywood attached with stainless steel screws. Also the throne niche of the altarpiece underwent reconstruction, including the first step, which had, in the middle, a round arch opening that was covered.

The polychrome surfaces were chemically cleaned with organic and inorganic solvents alone or mixed. The gaps were filled with acrylic plaster and smoothed with abrasive sandpaper of grain size between 100 and 150, while the chromatic reintegration of gold and polychrome gaps, interfering with the aesthetic reading of the altarpiece, was carried out using techniques of colour abstraction and mimicry, in the case of smaller gaps, and trateggio for the largest. In this sense, pigments bonded with acrylic resin were used.

The gilding was at the level of the predella, the area of the sacrarium, pediment and ceiling of the gallery, along with their reconstruction, using the mordant technique with 18-carat German gold. Finally, in the golden surfaces, an acrylic-type copolymer of ethyl methacrylate, dissolved in trichlorethylene, by brush and in a 7 percent concentration was applied to protect the golden surfaces.

Restoration and Enhancement of the Church of Saint Michael of Entre-os-Rios

The setting of the gold and polychrome surfaces on the painting of the chancel's ceiling was carried out resorting to an adhesive applied with a metal spatula, upon which an acrylic-type copolymer of ethyl methacrylate overlapped, diluted to 10 percent with aromatic hydrocarbon. The wooden planks of the ceiling were raised to provide access to the back surface, having removed the cases of the two transverse rows along the cross arch, due to their state of ruin.

We then proceeded to the review and strengthening of structures, including the fractured elements, to highlight or that have been highlighted, the union of cracks and open joints and the replacement of rotten wood. The volumetric elements in the process of mechanical detachment were disassembled and fixed through stainless metal elements and put together with polyvinyl acetate resin and mechanical grip through clamps. The reintegration of smaller volumetric gaps, namely in the finishing frame of the purlin in the ceiling were carried out with hardening adhesive.

The curative and preventive immunization treatment against xylophagous insects and microorganisms was carried out by spraying and injecting insecticide / fungicide, after which the consolidation and strengthening of weak woodwork and vulnerable mechanical strength was performed.

This was applied by injection and brush of an acrylic-type copolymer of ethyl methacrylate, dissolved in solvent with medium volatility and in increasing concentrations of 8, 15 and 20 percent, in the proportion indicated to the different degrees of degradation.

The surface oxidation in the existing metallic elements was removed mechanically by applying tannic acid dissolved in distilled water and ethanol, protected with antioxidant varnish.  

For the ceiling, there was the replacement and installation of ten new support beams in the supporting structure and the fixings were reinforced.

Two cases, totally degraded, were replaced by new ones, manufactured in maritime plywood and finished with a coating with pigments bonded with acrylic resin.

The closing of the opening giving access to the back surface was replaced and subject to thorough cleaning, by brushing and vacuuming of all non-adherent dirt and dust, through soft bristle brushes and controlled vacuum.

The polychrome was cleaned with the trichlorethylene solvent to remove purplish, and, in those areas more difficult to remove, we used a mixture of dimethylformamide with toluene at concentrations of 25 and 75, respectively.

Restoration and Enhancement of the Church of Saint Michael of Entre-os-Rios

The gold and polychrome gaps were filled and levered with acrylic plaster and abrasive sandpaper of grain size between 100 and 150, respectively.

To eliminate the interference in the aesthetic reading caused by the gold and polychrome gaps, a chromatic reintegration was carried out using abstraction of colour techniques and mimicry, for which pigments bonded with acrylic resin were applied.

With regard to the gilding, and since the golden area of the first row of the ceiling was quite damaged, it was necessary to re-gild, through the mordant technique with 18 carats-German gold, after cleaning the surfaces with preparation and bollus .

To harmonize the colour, the wear and patina of the surface were forced with scrapers and dark brown stains.

Finally, in the golden surfaces, an acrylic-type copolymer of ethyl methacrylate, dissolved in trichlorethylene, by brush and in a 3 percent concentration was applied. An acrylic matte varnish was applied in the polychrome surfaces.

In painting the door of the sacristy, the polychrome and gold surfaces were fixed with an adhesive applied with metal spatula, on which an acrylic-type copolymer of ethyl methacrylate, diluted to 10 percent with aromatic hydrocarbon was applied.

Restoration and Enhancement of the Church of Saint Michael of Entre-os-Rios

The woodwork received a curative and preventive immunization treatment against attacks by xylophagous insects and microorganisms through the application by spraying and injecting of insecticide / fungicide products.

The surface oxidation in the metallic elements was removed mechanically by applying tannic acid dissolved in distilled water and ethanol, protected with antioxidant varnish.  

The door was disassembled and reassembled for levelling gaps and joints, and subject to thorough cleaning, by brushing and vacuuming of all non-adherent dirt and dust, through soft bristle brushes and controlled vacuum.

The polychrome surfaces were cleaned with acetone, using cotton swabs and cotton patches soaked in the respective solvent. Polychrome and gold gaps and the levelling of fills were smoothed with acrylic plaster and abrasive sandpaper with particle size between 100 and 150, respectively. For protection, a layer of matte acrylic varnish was applied.

The mural paintings in the windows were the subject of an intervention that involved the removal of lime by scalpel, filling the joints of the south windows, superficial cleaning of dirt, chemical cleaning of polychrome surfaces, chromatic reintegration and the application of a protection.

Gallery
  • +Roof of the Church of Entre-os-Rios

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  • +Main chapel of the Church of Entre-os-Rios

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  • +Main altarpiece of the Church of Entre-os-Rios

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  • +Nave of the Church of Entre-os-Rios

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  • +Church of Entre-os-Rios

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  • +Church of Entre-os-Rios

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  • +Church of Entre-os-Rios

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  • +Church of Entre-os-Rios

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Know More
Bibliography

ALMEIDA, Carlos Alberto Ferreira de – História da Arte em Portugal: o Românico. Lisboa: Publicações Alfa, 1986.

ALMEIDA, C. A. Ferreira de; LOPES, Francisco Gaspar Almeida – “Eja: a Civitas e a Igreja de S.
Miguel”. Separata Portugália. Porto: Instituto de Arqueologia. Nova Série, vol. II/III (1981-1982).

COELHO, Manuel Ferreira – “O Concelho de Penafiel nas Memórias Paroquiais de 1758”. Penafiel – Boletim Municipal de Cultura. Penafiel: Câmara Municipal de Penafiel. Terceira Série, nº 4 e 5 (1987-88).

LIMA, António Manuel de Carvalho – “O território Anegia e a organização administrativa e militar do curso terminal do Douro: séculos IX-XII”. In BARROCA, Mário (coord.) – Carlos Alberto Ferreira de Almeida: in memoriam. Porto: Faculdade de Letras da Universidade do Porto, 1999. Vol. I.

MONTEIRO, Maria Teresa; SOUSA, J. Rigaud de – “Livro de Testamentos do Mosteiro de Paço
de Sousa”. Bracara Augusta. Braga. Vol. XXIV (1970).

ROSAS, Lúcia (coord.) – Românico do Vale do Sousa. Lousada: Comunidade Urbana do Vale do Sousa, 2008.

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