General Information
Church of Saint Peter of Abragão   
See Map
  • Name: Church of Saint Peter of Abragão
  • Typology: Church
  • Classification: National Monument, by Decree 129/77, DR 226, of 29th September 1977
  • Municipality: Penafiel
  • Patron Saint´s Day: Saint Peter - 29th June   
  • Worship Hours: Saturday - 4 pm (winter) or 6 pm (summer); Sunday and festivity days - 7 am and 11 am.   
  • Visiting Hours: By appointment   
  • Support Services:
  • Telephone : +351 255 810 706 / +351 918 116 488 
  • Fax: +351 255 810 709 
  • E-Mail:  
  • Web: 
  • Location:
    Rua Paçal, Abragão, Penafiel, Porto.
  • Geographic Coordinates: 41° 9' 26.601" N / 8° 13' 20.889" W 

Church of Saint Peter of Abragão  The existence of the Church of Saint Peter of Abragão was already documented in 1105, year in which Paio Peres Romeu donated in his will the “fourth part of Sancto Petro de Auregam to the Monastery of the Saviour of Paço de Sousa”, although it has been totally remodelled in the 13th century by initiative of Princess D. Mafalda, daughter of King D. Sancho I, according to tradition.

In 1668, the Romanesque nave was demolished to allow for the construction of a new wider one.

In 1820, a bell tower was added to it. The chevet and its respective cross arch represent the only Romanesque elements preserved from the original construction.

Historical Figures
D. Mafalda 
D. Mafalda
Princess D. Mafalda (1195-1256) was the daughter of King D. Sancho I and of D. Dulce de Aragão and granddaughter of King D. Afonso Henriques. Offered in marriage to
Henrique I of Castile, who would die two years later, she returns to Portugal to settle in the Monastery of Arouca. Her uncorrupted corpse remains there still.

The connection of Princess D. Mafalda to the region of the Tâmega and Sousa comes from the trust that King D. Sancho had in the Ribadouro family, putting the education of his legitimate daughter in the hands of Urraca Viegas, a daughter of Egas Moniz.

D. Mafalda
D. Mafalda
Princess D. Mafalda was the daughter of Amadeu III, Count of Moriana and Savoy, and of his wife Mafalda (or Matilde) of Albon, and was born in 1125 and died between 1157 and 1159. She became the first Queen of Portugal by marrying King D. Afonso Henriques, in 1146. She is buried in the chancel of the Church of Santa Cruz of Coimbra, alongside the remains of D. Afonso Henriques.

Tradition attributes the foundation of the Church of Boelhe to Queen D. Mafalda, famous for founding inns and bridges, which was considered, in the Middle Ages, as a work of piety and penitence. The queen founded a hostelry in Canaveses, where poor travellers were taken in and cared for, tradition crediting her with the bridge over the Douro river, in Barqueiros, and another bridge, over the Tâmega, as well as the passage boats “for God” in Moledo and Porto de Rei.

The foundation of the Church of Saint Peter of Abragão is also awarded either to the Queen D. Mafalda or to Princess D. Mafalda, daughter of King D. Sancho I and granddaughter of King D. Afonso Henriques.

D. Sancho I
D. Sancho I
Sancho I (Coimbra, 11th November 1154 - Coimbra, 26th March 1211), was nicknamed o Povoador [the Populator], by the way he promoted the settlement of people in the territory, namely through the creation of the cities of Guarda (1199), Gouveia (1186), Covilhã (1186), Viseu (1187) e Bragança (1187), resorting to immigrants from Flanders and Burgundy.

Knighted by his father, King D. Afonso Henriques, he takes on the throne at 18 years of age, in 1172, after an accident which impaired the king during the Battle of Badajoz, in 1169.

He was the leader, while Prince, of an offensive military campaign in Andalusia (1178), that earned him the support of his father and of the Portuguese population. In a counter offensive, the Almohads made several incursions between 1179 and 1184, while the kingdom of Leon also resumed its hostilities against Portugal.

Proclaimed king on 9th December 1185, King D. Sancho takes advantage of the death of the king of Leon, the absence of the sultan of Morocco in Africa and the support of an army of Crusades to plan a new attack against the Almohads. Once the Algarve was conquered, he takes on the title of King of Portugal and of the Algarve.

The Portuguese king was responsible for the restoration of the finances of the Kingdom and the promotion of the culture in Portugal and abroad.

Urraca Viegas
She was born around 1130, and was a daughter of Egas Moniz and Teresa Afonso, of the family of the Ribadouros.  Patron of the Monastery of Saint Saviour of Tuías, in Marco de Canaveses, she was a maid of Princess D. Mafalda, daughter of King  Sancho I and granddaughter of King  Afonso Henriques, who raised her as his own daughter, leaving her, in 1199, a considerable portion of his property.


11th-12th Centuries – Original edification (now gone);

13th century – Romanesque edification;

17th Century (1668) - Reconstruction of the nave;

1820 – Inclusion of the bell tower;

1975 – Suspension of the pavement’s removal and preservation of the original pavement;

1991 – Replacement of the exterior doors;

1993 – Restoration of the gilding in the main altar;

1998 – The Church of Saint Peter of Abragão is included in the Route of the Romanesque of Vale do Sousa;

2004 – Works of general preservation of the Church in the scope of the Route of the Romanesque of Vale de Sousa project: cleaning, reinforcement and painting of the exterior spans, replacement of some casements and electric installation; preservation and restoration of the Calvary painting in the sacristy;

2005 – Preservation of the portiere, interior spaces and sacristy, and urban works of the surroundings in the scope of the Route of the Romanesque of Vale de Sousa project.


The monument is an example of religious architecture, Romanesque and Baroque, with its longitudinal plant, a 18th century nave and adjacent bell tower and rectangular chancel, vaulted in late Tâmega and Sousa Romanesque, with its adjoining sacristy.

The Church features a Romanesque chevet and cross arch of the Romanesque period, single remnants of this architectonic period. Outside, a frieze comprising geometric motifs evokes to the church decorating style of the Visigothic and Mozarabic Ages, a peculiar characteristic of the Portuguese Romanesque, which revives those styles in the architecture of this period.

Plan of the Church of Saint Peter of Abragão

The rectangular chevet consists of two rhythmic flights and, outside, of stepped buttresses in order to reduce rainwater infiltration. The main façade and the nave correspond to a re-building in the second half of the 17th century.

Inside, the stone vault of broken arch covers the entire structure of the chevet, sheltering a Baroque altarpiece. The decoration of the chancel features a botanical theme, namely the triumphal arch topped by a five-pointed star rosette, whose bevelled decoration reports back to the traditional themes of the flaming swastika, the six-leaved rosettes and the palm trees.

Also worth noticing are the bulbiformes bases, addorsed columns and capitals, bulky when compared to the humble height of the chevet, whose decorative themes resemble those of the main entrance of another building in the region.

The sculpture of the Romanesque period is particularly characterized by the method used for carving the capitals. In this Church, one of them presents atlantes in the edge, supported by leaves. The other features birds entwined by the neck. The distribution of the sculpture is also an identifier of the Romanesque period.

Plan of the Church of Saint Peter of Abragão

Here, the sculpture is well framed in the capitals’ echinus: in the left capital, the atlantic-figures, whose heads are at the edge of the echinus, accentuate the supporting function of the column, and, in the right capital, the birds confront themselves in the edge, while the echinus’ central face is occupied by an animal head snatching at the birds’ tails.

The main façade and nave date from the 17th century, as stated by the inscriptions in the masonry, inscribing in the mannerist style, within an austere and refined taste. The retable structures of the lateral altars and the main altar, inside the church as well as the polychromatic painting on the stone wall adjacent to the triumphal arch and on the walls and ceiling of the chancel are clearly elements of Baroque influence.


Several architectural elements from the Romanesque period were found during the work of the urban re-qualification of the Civic Centre of Abragão, held in the scope of the Romanesque Route of Vale do Sousa project.

Ornamented pieces, some carved, others formerly belonging to the old nave of the Church rebuilt in the second half of the 17th century, were included in the construction of the walls of the building that stood as a blacksmith shop.

Archaeological remains of the Church of Saint Peter of Abragão

Capitals, bases, voussoirs and frustums were found which had belonged to a portal that, by the size and quantity, allow experts to consider it to be the main portal of the Church.

The carvings and sculptures found - capitals with affronted animals, beveled palmettes, voussoirs carved with secant circles - are close to those that can be observed in the Churches of Saint Genesius of Boelhe and of the Saviour of Paço de Sousa, both in Penafiel.

Archaeological remains of the Church of Saint Peter of Abragão

For those responsible for the archaeological work carried out in Abragão, the biggest surprise is the size and sculptural quality of the rosette that several elements testify.

This discovery allows us to evaluate the rosettes of other Romanesque churches in the region that were subject to changes, and that the size of rosette indicates that the nave of the Church would be quite larger than the chevet, thus revealing a church of great monumentality.

The chevet and the respective arch formed, to date of these findings, the only remaining Romanesque elements of the original construction.

Archaeological remains of the Church of Saint Peter of Abragão

Thus, this new discovery enriched the heritage value of the Church and its study will contribute to raise awareness towards the monument, in particular, and towards Romanesque buildings of the Tâmega and Sousa in general.


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 Peter of Abragão

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.

Regarding this property, the Study indicates as priorities the cleaning of the banks of the Sardoal brook, the overall improvement and ranking of the three squares, the enhancement of vacant buildings constructed on site, the landscaping of the allotment to the north of the Chapel of Our Lady of Health and the territory planning to the east of the Church.

Restoration and Enhancement

The Church was classified as “valor concelhio” [municipal patrimony] in 1975, having received modification works in the pavement of the surrounding churchyard, including the spread of gravel to accommodate the quartered screed finishing.

However, its classification changed to National Monument, thus suspending the intervention and replacing the original pavement. The coating of the nave was varnished in 1977 by the parish.

In 1991, the exterior doors of the Church are replaced and, two years later, the parish engages in the restoration of the main altar.

Restoration and Enhancement of the Church of Saint Peter of Abragão

The most significant intervention took place in 2004, envisaging the general preservation of the property, and included interventions involving the roofing, the outer spans, the ceiling of the nave, the batters of the two lateral chapels, the chapel of the Baptistery, the execution of three interior doors with iron railing, the heads, the recommissioning of the bells and recasting of the electrical wiring of the Church.

On the roof of the chancel the existing tiles were removed, the structure, with the replacement of decaying woodwork, was repaired and reinforced, the crowning of the batters was repaired and regulated in the joints of the roofing structure, with the occasional replacement of granite masonry and jointwork with lime mortar and sand at 1:3, among other interventions, namely the curative and preventive disinfection of all woodwork against xylophagous insects and fungi. Similar interventions were performed on the roofing of the nave and the sacristy.

In the exterior spans, we proceeded to the removal of the paint coating on doors and windows. In the former, the woodwork was repaired and those that were rotting or somehow damaged were replaced with other identical to the original, the casings were adjusted and reinforced, before proceeding to the general polishing of the woodwork, which also happened in the case of the windows. For the finishing, matt-glossed oil paint was used.

Restoration and Enhancement of the Church of Saint Peter of Abragão

The glass was removed from the rosette and replaced by other simple and colourless.

The varnish of the wood work in the ceiling and coves of the nave were removed before the preparation and trowelling of the surfaces with liquefied beeswax, after the uniformisation of the colour of the reintegrated areas by using aniline diluted in water.

For the interior batters of the two side chapels, the joints were carefully cleaned by removing all the cement mortar in order to reclose them with mortar of lime and sand at 1:3, to which a water repellent product was added.

The finishing of the surfaces was plastered with lime painting and fixer. In the intervention for the preservation of the baptism side chapel a very similar process was used, to which the application of a floor pavement with the same colour and grain of the stone was applied, sitting on regularization screed including the joints, general review of the iron railing in the chapel, including the stripping of any existing paint, the application of a sub-layer of paint and repaint with plumbago, the removal of the varnish on the wooden cover of the baptismal font and the preparation of surfaces for wooden finishing with liquefied beeswax waxing, applied with trowel.

Restoration and Enhancement of the Church of Saint Peter of Abragão

The restoration work also implied the removal of the existing wooden doors in the access to the pulpit, the choir and the bell tower, replaced by iron gates with plumbago painted finishing.

Finally, we proceeded to the intervention for the preservation and restoration of the functioning of the bells, including the stripping of the paint from woodwork and metal parts, the repair of the woodwork of the of the bell heads and the replacement of those who were in a state of deterioration by other identical to the original, filling of cracks and gaps with inlaid woodwork identical and / or with the use of a mass composed of sawdust and carpenter glue, general polishing of all woodwork, application of a polishing machine in two crossed stages, oil paint finishing in the colour similar to the spans, of matt gloss, and the painting of metal elements with lackluster black oil paint.

  • +Mural painting of the Church of Abragão

    JPG - 218Kb

  • +Church of Abragão

    JPG - 300Kb

  • +Church of Abragão

    JPG - 270Kb

  • +Nave of the Church of Abragão

    JPG - 328Kb

  • +Capitals of the main chancel of the Church of Abragão

    JPG - 195Kb

  • +Capitals of the main chancel of the Church of Abragão

    JPG - 230Kb

  • +Chevet of the Church of Abragão

    JPG - 204Kb

  • +Frieze of the Church of Abragão

    JPG - 273Kb

  • +Chevet and north façade of the Church of Abragão

    JPG - 341Kb

  • +Archaeological finds of the Church of Abragão

    JPG - 407Kb

  • +Church of Abragão

    JPG - 77Kb

  • +Tomb of the Church of Abragão

    JPG - 412Kb

Know More

ALMEIDA, Carlos Alberto Ferreira de – A arquitectura românica de Entre-Douro-e-Minho. Porto: [s.n.], 1978. Tese de Doutoramento, apresentada à Faculdade de Letras da Universidade do Porto.

ALMEIDA, Carlos Alberto Ferreira de – História da Arte em Portugal: arte da Alta Idade Média. Lisboa: Publicações Alfa, 1986.

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

CARDOSO, Luiz, Pe. – Diccionario geografico, ou noticia historica de todas as cidades, villas, lugares, e aldeas, rios, ribeiras, e serras dos Reynos de Portugal e Algarve, com todas as cousas raras, que nelles se encontrão, assim antigas, como modernas. Lisboa: Regia Officina Sylviana e Academia Real, 1747-1751. Vol. I e II.

GRAF, Gerhard N. – Portugal Roman. Yonne: Zodiaque, 1986 – 1987.

MEIRELES, António da Assunção, Frei – Memórias do Mosteiro de Paço de Sousa & index dos documentos do Arquivo. Lisboa: Academia Portuguesa da História, 1942.

OLIVEIRA, A. de Sousa – “A abside românica de S. Pedro de Abragão”. Separata do Boletim da Associação Amigos do Porto. Porto: [s.n.]. N.º 4 (1966).

ROSAS, Lúcia – Monumentos pátrios: a arquitectura religiosa medieval: património e restauro: 1835-1928. Porto: Faculdade de Letras da Universidade do Porto, 1995. Vol. II.

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

SANTOS, M. J. F.; ROSAS, L.; MACHADO, R. – Igreja de S. Pedro de Abragão: redescobrir um templo românico. Penafiel: Museu Municipal de Penafiel - Câmara Municipal de Penafiel, 2008.

SOARES, Franquelim Neiva – “Ensino e arte na região de Guimarães através dos livros de visitações do século XVI”. Revista de Guimarães. Guimarães. Vol. 93 (Jan. – Dez 1983) p.350-384.

VIEIRA, José Augusto – O Minho pittoresco. Lisboa: Livraria António Maria Pereira - Editor, 1886. Vol. II, III e IV.