The Iberian Peninsula from the periphery
Architecture and Identity
Universidade do Porto and Centro de Estudos da População, Economia e Sociedade (CEPESE)
The city of Coimbra has played an important role in the processes of both the formation and the affirmation of the realm, already a quite studied aspect in Portuguese medieval historiography. It was in Coimbra that the Portuguese Romanesque assumed one of its most luminary expressions, being also one of the places where the Romanesque architecture implanted itself the soonest. The dynamism of the city is well represented in the multiplied architecture of the 12th century, reflecting both the richness and political stability of the time. In fact, the expansion of the Romanesque architecture in Portugal coincides with the kingdom of D. Afonso Henriques (1143-1185). It was in this period that the Romanesque works on Lisbon’s, Coimbra’s and Oporto’s Sees were initiated and the Monastery of the Holy Cross of Coimbra, of Saint Augustine’s Regular Canons, was built, becoming the pantheon of the first kings of the 1st Dynasty.
The Church of the Monastery of the Holy Cross of Coimbra, founded in 1131, presented a completely new architecture within the context of the Romanesque that was spreading throughout Portugal at that time. Its building was well adjusted to the spirit of the community which had the choir service as the center of its life. Although profoundly altered in the 16th century1, one knows some aspects of the original temple described both by documentation from the...
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