Saint Mary of Pombeiro was one of the most important Benedictine monasteries in the area between the Douro and Minho rivers, and was founded by D. Gomes Echiegues and his wife Gontroda in 1102. The Church, built between the 12th and 13th centuries, features three naves, divided by diaphragm-arches with painted wooden ceilings on the lateral naves.
The original plant of the chancel, rebuilt in the 18th century, was semi-circular, typical of the Romanesque style, as were the still existing apses [secondary chapels]. The main portal capitals are a remarkable example of Romanesque sculpture.
The two tombs with sculpture were part of the funerary centre sheltered in the now vanished galilee, which was linked to the nobility of this territory, including families such as the Sousas or Sousões and the Ribavizelas. In the apses there are two themes of mural painting: one probably representing Saint Blaise and another representing Saint Amarus and Saint Placidus.
The image of the Patron featured in the main retable (the main altar) is possibly a Gothic-style work from between the 14th and 15th centuries. Much was altered between the 16th to 20th centuries: the Church received a set of rococo-style gilded wood, which was worked by the renowned friar José de Santo António Ferreira Vilaça.
Classification: National Monument - 1910
Route: Sousa Valley
1059 – Foundation of the Monastery, according to tradition;
1099 – The oldest documented reference to the Monastery;
1102 – D. Gomes Echiegues and his wife Gontroda sign a donation charter in favour of the Monastery;
1112 – The Monastery of Saint Mary of Pombeiro is bestowed with a Land Charter [place of privileges];
1199 – Date engraved in an embedded panel by the Epistle, next to the cloister’s access door. It is an inscription of a funerary character that refers to D. Gonçalo, an abbot who played an important role in the Monastery of Pombeiro, by founding something ("Qui Fundavit ..."). This epitaph may indicate the commissioning of the Romanesque factory of Pombeiro;
1252-1276 – Ruling of the Abbot Rodrigo, marking the architectonic peek of the Monastery’s medieval structure;
1427 – Commendatory abbots become responsible for the monasterial management;
1526-1556 – Abbacy of D. António de Melo;
1500-1530 - Approximate date of the mural painting program that covered part of the interior of the Church. Of this campaign only a few fragments remain, reflected in the apses and also in an uncovered arch on the wall of the nave on the south side;
1566 – The Congregation of the Black Monks of Saint Benedict of Portugal is created;
1568 – The main structures of the Monastery of Saint Mary were severely ruined. Only the Church featured a certain artistic nobilitation;
1569 – On September 14th the Monastery is integrated in the Benedictine Congregation;
1584 – The 5th General Chapter of the Benedictine Congregation is held in Pombeiro;
1589 – A visit to the building is conducted, by order of Filipe II, leading to the renovation of the Monastery of Pombeiro;
1589 – Friar Bernardo de Braga is elected as the triennial abbot of the Monastery of Saint Mary of Pombeiro, a nomination which gave rise to the triennial abbacy election system;
1629 – According to documentation, the towers of the façade were already built;
1719 – In March this year, the first stone to build the Chapel of Saint Quiteria is laid, constructed the Chapel of Saint Peter, and depending on the Monastery of Saint Mary of Pombeiro;
1719-1722 – Friar Bento da Ascenção begins the process of the Baroque modernization of the Monastery. Works take place in the main façade and also in the chevet of the Church of the Monastery;
1760s – Beginning of the Church’s maintenance works that would grant a Rococo ambiance to it;
1770-1773 – The main chapel is totally rebuilt, and the altarpiece ensemble corresponding to the main altar is also executed in this period. According to documentation, the box for the Church organ was made in 1770, as the latter was at that time being finished in Guimarães; Intervention of the artist Friar José de Santo António Ferreira Vilaça;
1776 – The Church transformation ensues. The side altars are sold. The execution of the pulpits began, placed face to face in the Church’s central nave, being completed in the following year;
1777/1780 – New structures replace the former retables. Two other lateral retables are made during this period;
1783 – The Church organ of the Monastery was already in place, being considered as “one of the best in the Order”. It was built by Francisco António Solha (1758-1785);
1809 – On May 13th, a great fire would destroy a large part of the Monastery of Saint Mary of Pombeiro’s community area, the Church being the sole building untouched by calamity;
1819 – In this year, and following the campaign initiated after the catastrophe that had hit the Monastery years earlier, the reconstruction of the Monastery’s community area takes place: the Chapter Room, the library, the hostelry, the barns, among others, are built; Purchase of new furnishings for the sacristy;
1822 – Continuation of works in the cloister, which would never come to be completed;
1834 – Beginning of the process of extinction of the religious orders in Portugal;
1910 – On June 23rd, the Monastery of Saint Mary of Pombeiro is classified as National Monument;
1958-1987 – During this period, the works were under the guidance of the DGEMN – Direção Geral dos Edifícios e Monumentos Nacionais [General Directorate for Buildings and National Monuments], aiming for the restoration of the several components of the complex, which focused mostly on the Church.
1993-2006 – Executions of the rehabilitation and recovery works on various structures, under the direction of IPPAR - Instituto Português do Património Arquitetónico [Portuguese Institute of Architectural Heritage];
1998 – The Monastery of Saint Mary of Pombeiro is included in the Route of the Romanesque of Vale do Sousa;
2009 – Opening of the Tourist Information Centre of the Route of the Romanesque;
2015 – Conservation and restoration works, under the scope of the Route of the Romanesque, of the organ pipes located in the high-choir of the Church, dormant for two centuries; Development and introduction in the cloister, by the municipality of Felgueiras, a replica of the eighteenth-century fountain (1702) that remained in the Monastery until 1896 and is currently in the garden of Quinta da Boavista, in Castelo de Paiva.
2020-2021 – Conservation and restoration works, promoted by the Regional Directorate for Culture of Northern Portugal, of two nave altarpieces (Our Lady of Pain and Saint Anthony) and rehabilitation of the ground floor of the cloister gallery, the rose window and the church tower.
Saint Mary Major – 15th August
Wednesday to Sunday: 10 am - 6 pm.
Sunday, public holidays and Festivity Days - 9 am
2€. 50% Discount: Visitors aged 65 or over, Students, Youth Card, Large Families, Family Ticket. Admission is provided by the services of the Direção Regional de Cultura do Norte [North Regional Directorate for Culture], the entity that oversees the Monastery of Pombeiro.
Monument not accessible to visitors with reduced mobility.
+351 255 810 706
+351 918 116 488
How to get here:
Rua do Mosteiro, Pombeiro de Ribavizela, Felgueiras, Porto
Northern Portugal: A28/A3/A7/A24/A4 » A11 (Felgueiras) » Felgueiras Oeste » Rota do Românico/Mosteiro de Pombeiro.
Porto: A3 » A41 CREP (Paços de Ferreira), A42 (Felgueiras) » A11 (Felgueiras) » Felgueiras » Rota do Românico/Mosteiro de Pombeiro.
Central/Southern Portugal: A1/A29 » A41 CREP (Vila Real) » A42 (Felgueiras) » A11 (Felgueiras) » Felgueiras » Rota do Românico/Mosteiro de Pombeiro.
Felgueiras: N101 (Guimarães) » Rota do Românico/Mosteiro de Pombeiro