General Information
Torre dos Alcoforados  
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  • Name: Tower of the Alcoforados
  • Typology: Tower
  • Classification: Public Interest Building, by Decree 45/93, DR 280 of 30th November 1993
  • Municipality: Paredes
  • Visiting Hours: By appointment 
  • 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 Torre Alta, Lordelo, Paredes, Porto.
  • Geographic Coordinates: 41° 14' 55.95" N / 8° 24' 30.17" O 
History
History
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Tower of the Alcoforados (Photo: © SIPA – IHRU)In addition to the issue about the naming of the Tower - popularly known as "Tower of the Moors", "Tower of Lordelo" or "High Tower", and officially known as "Tower of the Alcoforados" -, there is also another discussion regarding the founders of this property.

Opinions are divided. While Felgueiras Gayo and Alão de Morais claim that this Tower was the manor house of the Alcoforados, A. de Almeida Fernandes ascribes its foundation to the clan of milites Brandão, from the lower nobility, who had assets in the area during a period that lasted between the 12th and 13th centuries.

It turns out that, regarding the centuries that comprise the Middle Ages, sources are inconclusive. We would have to wait until the 18th century to have access to more detailed information about its ownership.

According to Father António Carvalho da Costa, in 1706, the lord of the Tower was Pedro Vaz Cirne de Sousa, the son of Manuel Cirne Soares and Antónia de Sousa Alcoforado. He was a military man, a Porto City Councillor and a writer. He inherited the property from his mother, the granddaughter of Gonçalo Vaz Alcoforado and Margarida de Sousa who lived in the 15th century.

Margarida de Sousa descended from the house of Urrô due to her great-grandmother Inês Vasques (of Urrô), who probably lived in the second half of the 13th century. This family was linked to the Brandões, through the marriage of Teresa Fernandes, the daughter of Ximena Dias de Urrô, to Martim Brandão.

We should also add that D. Ximena was the sister of an ancestor of the aforementioned Margarida de Sousa, through whom the representation of the Alcoforados and the Tower's lordship persisted; the Tower may not even have been a work of the Brandões, but rather of individuals belonging to the Urrô family circle, which later diluted in the Brandões, who then diluted in the Alcoforados.

The Tower was surely built after 1258 and fits into the so-called domus fortis or fortified manorial residence typology. This type of residence follows the military architecture of the keeps, but uses them for civilian, namely housing, purposes.

However, by applying this military design, they associated to them and through them, a family, an image of power and a demonstration of strength. As a result, these residential towers were eventually used by noble families while they were in a full assertion and ascension period. In other words, the Tower of the Alcoforados represents the power of a family over a given territory in its surrounding area.

It was mainly second-line lineages, milites aspiring to become noblemen who adopted this architectural solution of the domus fortis in the first place, as a way to lead their domains.

However, as time went on and with the dispersion of its lords among families from Porto and from the Entre-Douro-e-Minho region - in other words, with the fading of a given manorial lineage -, this Tower lost its main function, and it was probably left uninhabited from a very early stage.

Once the idea of territorial control had been lost, the property eventually turned into an empty building, which was strongly affected by the constructions that were built around it over time.

Chronology
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14th century (first half) - Suggested chronology for the construction of the Tower of the Alcoforados;

1987 - The Paredes Town Council proposed the classification of the Tower of the Alcoforados;

1993 - The Tower of the Alcoforados is classified as a Public Interest Building;

2010 - Integration of the Tower of the Alcoforados in the Route of the Romanesque;

2014-2015 - Preservation and protection works conducted under the scope of the Route of the Romanesque.

Specialities
Architecture
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The Tower of the Alcoforados is built on a hill, resting on a granite outcrop that accentuates its verticality and grants robustness to its foundations. This positioning allows it to stand out from this agricultural valley fitted between the Agrela mountain range and the one of São Tiago.

Currently, it is about 8,60 metres high due to the absence of a few rows of ashlars on the top, as it surely had merlons and battlements once.

The Tower has walls with well-cut stones, despite the different sizes of their ashlars, which give rise to rows with various heights.

Plan of the ground floor of the Tower of the Alcoforados

The ground floor door shows itself delimited by a round arch, featuring a flattened arch lintel, composed of four voussoirs.

It is worth mentioning the existence, on the first floor, of a balcony that probably had machicolations, as evidenced by the cantilevers located just outside the door that, facing north-east, opens the central floor to the outside.

The corbels suggest that this balcony was equipped with a porch that would form a small roof. This would be the main floor of the building, the so-called piano nobile, taking into account the presence of this element that opens the building to its surrounding agricultural property.

Plan of the first floor of the Tower of the Alcoforados

Instead of narrow crevices, we find double windows, opened within the thickness of a deep wall, about 1,10 metres thick. These are internally framed by a slightly broken arch.

The pavements of the upper floors - like the stairs that allowed accessing them - were made of wood, as evidenced by the fittings of the beams that supported the wooden floor.
 
Probably, this building would include a series of supporting annexes such as the kitchen, the barns or the stables, of which there are currently no traces as they were built with perishable materials, such as wood.

Its chronology should be positioned in the first half of the 14th century because, in addition to the absence of evidences of its existence in the mid-14th century, its structure features a series of elements which contribute to this dating: windows of a Gothic flavour, with a mullion that delimits narrow broken arches.

However, the structure of this Tower undoubtedly finds its origin in the Romanesque keeps.

Archeology
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The need to valorise this property will promote the conduction of an archaeological intervention to protect all procedures involving subsoil removal or moving, resulting from valorisation works that may be carried out in the future.
Restoration and Enhancement
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Aware of its historical and artistic value, the Municipality of Paredes proposed, in late 1987, the classification of this property. We should highlight that the City Council and the Parish Council of Lordelo had already taken precautionary measures for the preservation and protection of this property.

The Instituto Português do Património Cultural [Portuguese Institute of Cultural Heritage], the entity responsible for the classification of built heritage at the time, approved the proposal for the classification of the Tower as Public Interest Building by decree no. 45, of November 30th, 1993.

With its integration in the Route of the Romanesque, there are plans to carry out conservation and restoration works (thus creating conditions for its use and interpretation; building the roof; closing the corresponding openings and recreating the floors on their primitive levels) and for the urban and landscape requalification of its surroundings, seeking to respect its original purpose of representing a manorial domain, which was clearly dedicated to agricultural activities.

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Bibliography

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