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Mosteiro Amares Pousada

Exterior da Pousada Amares.

Testimony to the ingenuity of renowned architect Eduardo Souto Moura, the Mosteiro Amares Pousada is a veritable feast for architecture lovers and those with an eye for detail. It was initially constructed in the 12th century as a Cistercian monastery, before undergoing various alterations and additions over the years. After the dissolution of the religious orders in 1834, the monks were expelled, while the monastery – known as the Santa Maria do Bouro convent – was sold at auction and left to rack and ruin. Souto Moura himself discovered the place as a ruin when he was a boy and never forgot it: “I loved the trees growing out of the walls.”

At the end of the 1980s, after having been invited to present a project to restore the Amares monastery, the architect had a radical idea: “When it comes to the project, the ruins are more important than the convent.” This concept was applied throughout the rebuilding and refurbishment, with the pousada eventually opening its doors in 1997. The special approach is conveyed in many ways, from the broken steps leading to the entrance to the roof covered with flowers and vegetation; from the moss-covered flagstones in the cloisters to the 18th-century doors hanging on the walls like works of art.

The rest is an extraordinary mix of the stripped-down and minimalist: new coffered ceilings made from copper-coloured steel, which simulate the old wooden ones; an enormous modern chimney, reconstructed in the old kitchen using terracotta bricks; the plain, broad corridors; the super-elegant doors of the rooms, which pay tribute to the old monks’ cells; the rooms themselves with everything you need and nothing you don’t; the white marble of the bathrooms; the orange grove courtyard with dirt floor; the mountain water that traverses the cloisters; the stone steps plunging into the pool; and granite, lots of granite, granite everywhere. We might call it luxurious austerity.

Those looking for the perfect place to organise a memorable party, look no further. The large terrace overlooking the garden and Gerês mountains is wonderful, as is the banqueting room, which boasts two chandeliers by Álvaro Siza Vieira, the man responsible for choosing (as well as designing) much of the furniture. That makes two Pritzker prize winners playing with 7,000 square metres of monastery. That doesn’t happen every day.

Piscina da Pousada Amares.

Mosteiro Amares Pousada

Mosteiro Amares Pousada is a feast for architecture lovers.

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