Mosteiro de Arouca

Mosteiro de Arouca


This religious community was originally a double one, housing both monks and nuns It eventually became a nun's convent and adopted the Rules of St. Benedict at the end of the 11th century. In the 13th century, it joined the Cistercian Order and immediately became associated with the figure of the Infanta D. Mafalda, the daughter of D. Sancho I, who, in 1220, decided to incorporate the nuns into the new Order. Endowed with a vast estate, it was gradually to become one of the most important Portuguese convents.

Living in retreat there, D. Mafalda gained the reputation of a saint, further enhanced by the discovery of her body in an uncorrupted state. D. Mafalda was finally beatified in the 18th century. The convent was definitively suppressed in 1886, on the death of the last abbess.

The convent buildings are integrated into the urban fabric of the town of Arouca and, despite being mediaeval in origin, reflect the great changes that took place in the 18th century. A 14th-century rose-window and a 10th-century inscription are all that now remain to testify to its antiquity.

Inside the church, attention is drawn to the harmonious combination between its architecture and its baroque decoration, with beautiful carved and gilded wooden altarpieces by Carlos Gimac. On the right of the nave, above an altar, is the tomb of D. Mafalda, dated 1793. In the choir, the special highlights are the 18th-century organ and the remarkable stalls, with canvas paintings depicting scenes from the lives of the saints, the Virgin Mary, Christ and St. Mafalda.

To know more about the life and buildings of the former convent, you should visit the Museum of Sacred Art, which still conserves a significant part of its original furnishings and contents. In this way, you can discover the chapter house, with its panels of 18th-century azulejos and the stories that they tell, the spacious kitchen with its chimney, as well as the refectory and the cloister from the last quarter of the 18th century.

Av. 25 de Abril / Largo de Santa Mafalda 
4540-108 Arouca
+351 256 943 321

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