Built on a slope facing the Douro river, the Church dedicated to the Apostle Saint Andrew, in Ancede, was the leading figure of an extensive religious, spiritual and economic heritage.
The charter of privileges, from 1141, defined the boundaries of a considerable area of influence from which the Canons Regular of Saint Augustine ran an important humanisation work.
But their area of influence was established way beyond the monastic fence and the "couto" [place with privileges] itself. Adding up the acquisition of real estate assets and of certain rights along the Douro valley, the monks knew, early on, how to take advantage of the exploitation of natural resources and, especially, of the handling of techniques to create an important trading post based on the production and export of wine and on the administration of the leases that were owed to them due to the ownership of a considerable number of properties to the north and south of the Douro.
Maybe this is the reason why the legend behind the explanation of the name "Ancede" and the hypothetical transfer of the monastic core - which would have initially been installed in Ermelo -, seem even less likely. The vox populi says that D. Afonso Henriques, first king of Portugal, authorised the relocation of the monks based on a complaint they filed themselves: "they were thirsty" [sede] because the place of Ermelo was scarce in waters.
So "if you are thirsty," said the monarch, "move". That was not the case, and even if it were, the techniques and monastic knowledge would have solved that and other issues, such as in the case of the current location of the Church and monastic complex, which underwent deep changes since the Middle Ages and is well served by canals and aqueducts that are able to ensure the supply of water to its inhabitants.
The traces left by the Medieval Period are scarce. The most significant elements are the late Romanesque rose window, which is preserved on the back wall of the Church's chancel, and a wall section from the chevet's north side elevation.
All the remaining ecclesial body, monastery and monastic premises are already the result of the artistic movements that marked the 16th to the 19th centuries.
Despite the fact that almost since its foundation until its extinction, in 1834, the Monastery of Ancede built a prosperous institution, there are two particularly remarkable periods in the building's history: the turn of the Middle Ages to the Modern Period (15th and 16th centuries) and the 18th century.
The first shows the approximation of the priors to the city of Porto, taking advantage of the fact that the city was closely located to sell out the wine and other products through Ancede. In the second moment - despite having been integrated into the heritage of the Convent of Saint Dominic of Lisbon in 1559 - there was the construction of a new Church after 1689, merging the monastic and parish temples, and the construction or reconstruction of various buildings around the Monastery.
Of all these works, the most important one was the construction of the Chapel of Our Lord of Good Deliverance, raised in the wide churchyard, adjoining the wall that supports the wine cellars area and other agricultural buildings.
This is a small temple, with an octangular plan, built in 1731, which expresses the somewhat extravagant Baroque artistic programme with scenes from the life of Mary, Christ's Childhood and the Passion of Christ; these are mostly related to the mysteries contained in the Rosary, being scenes that are much to the taste of the Dominican order that was responsible for all the iconographic programme of the Chapel.
Returning to the Church, we should highlight the 14th-century processional cross; the sculpture of Saint Lucy and the triptych of Saint Bartholomew, a couple of pieces of Flemish origin from the early 16th century; the series of paintings invoking the Way to the Cross and the Passion of Christ, all works from the second half of the 17th century; as well as the sculptural collection scattered across the Church and sacristy, with a Baroque matrix and manufactured between the mid-17th and the late 18th centuries.
We should also highlight the Holy Head of Ancede. A silver casing, without any ornaments, conceals part of a human skull, supposedly belonging to an ancient canon regular of Ermelo who, during his life, cured rabies; after his death, his relics maintained their miraculous reputation.
The monastic ensemble was emptied of its human capital in 1834, being acquired in the following year by José Henriques Soares - who later became the Baron of Ancede -, an important tradesman and Liberal politician.