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Convento Vila Viçosa Pousada

Corredor com mural pintado na pousada convento Vila Viçosa

It’s been a pantheon. A convent. A seminary. Over five centuries, the building that now houses the Convento Vila Viçosa Pousada has served many purposes. All of them have left their mark, creating a balance between new and old, like a history book made of wood and stone. 

Built in 16th century, on the orders of Jaime, IV Duke of Bragança, to serve as a pantheon for the ladies of the House of Braganza, the place’s purpose soon changed. In 1535, it welcomed the Poor Clares of Beja, who remained for the next three centuries, during which time they lived cloistered. Vestiges of those times are visible everywhere, particularly in the convent’s old “entrance” – not an actual walkway, but rather an oratory that facilitated communication with the outside world. It included a wooden wheel that allowed food to pass, and supposedly abandoned babies that were left in the nuns’ care.

Although the ecclesiastical reforms of 1834 saw the dissolution of the monasteries, the then Chagas de Cristo convent was allowed to continue until the last nun died, which only occurred in 1905. In the 20th century, the place functioned as the archdiocese’s minor seminary, before eventually falling into decline. In the 1990s, the House of Braganza Foundation ceded the building to Enatur, which opened it as a historic pousada in 1997.

Designed around a quadrangular cloister, the pousada possesses countless rooms, chapels and altars distributed over two floors. On the lower level, highlights include the Salão dos Duques (Dukes Hall) and Sala do Capítulo (chapter house), which are covered with tiles and fine frescoes. There is also the room occupied by the Dom Carlos restaurant, which enjoys two wonderful views: the cloister garden opposite, and the ceiling above, where a painting dating back to 1738 depicts the Last Supper. On the upper floors, which have 39 rooms between them, guests can also visit the Sala do Beija-Mão, a room covered with frescoes from 1820, which would give anyone a crick in the neck, given there’s so much to contemplate and admire.

The rooms created during the 1990s extension face the garden and pool. Similar to one another, they have balconies almost the big as the spacious rooms. The older rooms inside the main pousada building are adapted nuns’ quarters, which is why they differ in size and style. Each has a special detail as a reminder of the convent, from painting to tiles, including some more unusual features, such as a small cage. Who knows? Perhaps, sacrifices were made in the name of faith.

Claustro da Pousada de Vila Viçosa

Convento Vila Viçosa
Pousada

A balance between new and old, as if we were looking at a history book made of wood and stone.

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