Within the Portuguese Romanesque, the Romanesque architecture of the Tâmega and Sousa has very peculiar and regionalized characteristics.
The sculpture shows a very particular personality presenting, almost systematically, vegetal elements. Its uniqueness lies in the themes and techniques. On the capitals and long friezes, the sculpture is very well designed and flat, using the bevel technique, widely used in the Visigothic and Mozarabic Times.
Almost always coinciding with Romanesque renovations of previously existing churches , the new constructions used models from the former Pre-Romanesque churches that were then being renovated and were inspired by the decorative repertoires of the Old See of Coimbra, the See of Porto and the See of Braga/Saint Peter of Rates, thus forming a new syntax, very peculiar and regionalized.
In the churches of the Tâmega and Sousa rarely does the human figure appear. The animalism themes emerge supporting the tympana of the portals, clearly having the function of defending the entrances to the temple.
The architecture of this region adopts, most of the times, rectangular chevets, although there are more academic specimens using semicircular apses, like and façades where rather deep portals are fitted. In most of the cases, these portals bear no figurative programmes, but the detail in their arrangement and the profusion of sculpture they bear demonstrate the will to ennoble and defend.
The Church of the Monastery of the Saviour of Paço de Sousa, in Penafiel, is a nuclear monument in the context of the Romanesque architecture of Tâmega and Sousa. Paço de Sousa was the birthplace of a trend based on the pre-Romanesque tradition and influenced by Romanesque themes from Porto and Coimbra, giving rise to what was known as “românico nacionalizado” ["nationalised Romanesque"]. This trend privileges the botanical decoration applied in capitals, friezes or even impost blocks, usually plain, beveled and of clear design.
One of the most significant and peculiar aspects of the Romanesque architecture of the Tâmega and Sousa lays, precisely, in the long acceptance of the building models and decorative solutions of the Romanesque period.