Santa Maria da Feira, Portugal-Rosto Solidario

Castle of Santa Maria da Feira

Castle of Santa Maria da Feira Land of Santa Maria had as its administrative headquarters a castle strategically located, next to the old Roman road that connected Porto and Coimbra. This castle, called Castle of Santa Maria and, later, Castelo of Feira, will have played an important role in the origin of the nationality of Portugal. Some of its main functions over the centuries are thought to have been military fortification, operations planning, protection of the royal and residential family. Until the 11th century, it is thought that the castle was a fort inhabited by Lusitanians, Romans, Visigoths, and Moors, according to some legends and traces found in the place. The name of “Land of Santa Maria” will have been given by King Afonso III de Leão (866-911), responsible for the creation of this administrative region, centering its defense on an existing military fortress. The reasons for this name are unknown, but it seems to affirm a devotion to the Catholic faith, in an important place in the fight against the “enemies” of the faith. At this time, the Land of Santa Maria was bounded to the north by the Douro River, to the West by the Ocean, to the East by the Arda River and Freita and Arada mountains, and to the South by the Vouga River. Over time, these boundaries have evolved. In 1114, after the death of Count D. Henrique, D. Teresa, his widow, fell in love with Fernando Peres de Trava, a Galician nobleman working for D. Diogo Gelmirez, archbishop of Santiago de Compostela. This was intended to occupy the portucalense county for Galicia. In this context, many powerful families were afraid that they would lose their power, namely, the Moniz from Riba Douro (Ermígio, Mendo, and Egas), Sousa (from Maia), Nuno Soares (from Grijó) and Pero Gonçalves (de Marnel) families. As such, these families decided to support D. Afonso Henriques against his mother, D. Teresa. Due to the geographic location of the residence of these families and the strategic position of Castle of Santa Maria da Feira, it is believed that the battle of S. Mamede, in 1128, which contributed to the autonomy of the kingdom of Portugal, was planned in this place. This castle should have been considered a safe fortress, since, in 1188, D. Sancho I will have made available to Queen D. Dulce and her daughters as a shelter. In 1251, D. Afonso III orders the inquiries, which establish people’s obligations to the castle and, 50 years later, D. Dinis includes the castle in the dowry granted to his wife, Queen Santa Isabel. At the end of the 14th century, for the valuable services rendered to the king, D. João I gave the Land of Santa Maria to Álvaro Pereira, marshal of the kingdom. Álvaro Pereira was the uncle-cousin of Nuno Álvares Pereira, known as the Holy Constable. For several years, the castle fell into disrepair until, in 1448, D. Afonso V donated the castle to Fernão Pereira, grandson of Álvaro Pereira, who at his expense, recovered the castle. Rui Pereira, son of Fernão Pereira, was the 1st Count of Feira. The castle lost its military functions and the Keep became the residence of the Counts of Feira. Over time, the space of the Keep proved to be insufficient and, in the 17th century, the Palace of the Counts was built, whose construction ended in 1652. Also in the 17th century, the Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Encarnação was built, attached to the castle. This family had the castle until 1700, when D. Fernando, the 8th Count of Feira died without descendants. In 1722, the Palace of the Counts was destroyed by a strong fire followed by a long period of decline. Its ruins were demolished in 1929. Between 1935 and 1940 the castle underwent repair works that give the castle its current appearance, similar to what it would have in the 17th century.

Bibliography: Agrupamento n.º 640 do Corpo Nacional de Escutas de Santa Maria da Feira (198-). Guia do Visitante do Castelo da Feira. 2ª Edição. Agrupamento n.º 640 do Corpo Nacional de Escutas, Santa Maria da Feira. Guimarães, S. (2008). Castelo de Santa Maria da Feira. 1ª Edição. Comissão de Vigilância do Castelo de Santa Maria da Feira. Mattoso, J. (1993). A Terra de Santa Maria na Idade Média: Limites Geográficos e Identidade Peculiar. Comissão de Vigilância do Castelo de Santa Maria da Feira.


Church and Convent of Lóios

The Parish Church of Santa Maria da Feira and the Convent of Lóios belonged to the Congregation of São João Evangelista, also known as Friars Lóios or, popularly, as the Friars Azúis (“blue”), the color of their habit. The name of this Congregation comes from Santo Elói, which gave the name to a hospital in Lisbon, and was founded in the first half of the 15th century by Portuguese founders. This Congregation developed its work mainly in the assistance field and took over the administration of several hospitals across the country. The Convent in Santa Maria da Feira was the ninth and last of the Congregation and is the result of the will of the 3rd Count of Feira, D. Manuel Pereira and his wife D. Isabel de Castro and, subsequently, built by his firstborn, the 4th Count of Feira, D. Diogo Forjaz Pereira and his wife D. Ana de Meneses. In 1560 they laid the first stone and, in 1566, the Convent was already in conditions to be inhabited. The Church was built later in the 17th century in different stages. In the first phase, the main chapel and the cruise were built (first stone laid in 1625) and, later, in the second phase, the rest of the church and the cloister were built, completed in 1743. The monumental staircase is dated as completed in 1746. Currently, the Church and Convent of Lóios, including the monumental staircase, is classified as a Monument of Public Interest in the Religious Architecture / Convent category. Located in the historic center of Santa Maria da Feira, it is a Mannerist Convent with a church, which maintains a parochial use, with a latin cross plan, a single nave, and a two-storeys cloister. This monument is inserted in the typology of the monumental seventeenth-century churches, with a classicist feature of Porto region, which places it in the Tridentine model of transition. After the extinction of religious orders, the Convent was handed over to the Municipal Chamber of Santa Maria da Feira in 1834 and, since then, it has had several functions as public equipment. This Convent was used as a Court and Conservatories; in 1878 the D. Fernando II Theater opened in one of the parts of the Convent; in 1992, the Convent of Lóios hosts the Museum and; from 2000 onwards it became known as Museum Convent of Lóios. Currently, this is a space dedicated to safeguarding, valuing, and disseminating the Region’s History and Heritage with exhibitions of archeology, history, and ethnography on the Origin of Humanity, the evolution, and the development of the region. Many of the other buildings that once belonged to the Congregation of São Soão Evangelista are currently dedicated to the hotel and tourism sector and are very well preserved. The fact that this Convent in Santa Maria da Feira has been transformed into a museum is also a way of showing the history and work of this Congregation, little known in Portugal.

Bibliography: Tavares, Pedro Vilas Boas (2009). Os Lóios em Terras de Santa Maria – do Convento da Feira à realidade nacional da congregação. Câmara Municipal, Santa Maria da Feira

Café Castelo – Fogaça da Feira

Café Castelo is a historic café in the city founded in 1943 and makes the typical Fogaça da Feira IGP. This manufacture is distinguished by its traditional preparation and the way it is baked in the oven, which is heated with wood. The Fogaça da Feira IGP (IGP – Protected Geographical Indication) is a sweet bread with a flavor and aroma of lemon and cinnamon, with a brownish hue and a conical shape, styling at the top four spouts. Its specificities are its conical shape that results from a strong connection to the region and a preparation process that results from local know-how. The four spouts at the top of the fogaça, called “coruchéus”, represent the four towers of the Castle of Feira and is a distinguishing feature of this sweet bread. The production of Fogaça da Feira IGP is limited to the municipality of Santa Maria da Feira. The origins of Fogaça da Feira IGP comes from the year 1220, due to its references as a forum and taxes that the peasants should pay, inquiries ordered by D. Afonso II, in Land of Santa Maria. Fogaça da Feira IGP is the main character in the Fogaceiras Festival, the popular name of the party that takes place annually on January 20th. This is the most emblematic festival in the city, it is a tradition with more than five hundred years and represents the devotion of the people of the Land of Santa Maria. In 1505, part of the population was decimated due to an outbreak of plague that devastated the region. To obtain protection, these people made a vow to S. Sebastião, the patron saint of this region, and promised the offer of sweet bread, Fogaça. Between 1749 and 1753, the people of Santa Maria da Feira fail to keep their promise, and the inhabitants were plagued again by the plague. Faced with this scourge, the tradition is resumed in 1753. Fogaceiras Festival opens with a civic procession from the Council Chambers to the Parish Church, in which three girls participate, dressed in white with bands of different colors around the waist. Each of the girls takes a fogaça of the vow and is accompanied by other fogaceiras, one with the board with the candles and the other with the miniature castle of Feira. Next, there are dozens of girls, dressed in the same way, carrying fogaças that are blessed during solemn mass, celebrated after the procession. In the afternoon, a procession goes through the streets of the city. At the end of the procession, the fogaças are distributed by the religious, military, and administrative entities of the city. In the past, fogaças were distributed to the Counts of Feira, to patients in the hospital and prisoners.

Bibliography: Modesto, M. L., Praça, A.E. (1999). Festas e comeres do povo português. Verbo. Lisboa

Sculpture Diorama Cork Factory

Street Art This Sculpture represents several dimensions of the identity of Santa Maria da Feira. On the one hand, this piece was built in cork, with Santa Maria da Feira being the main industrial hub for the transformation of this product. On the other hand, it is a piece of urban art that appears within the scope of Imaginarius, Street Arts Festival. Cork corresponds to the bark of the cork oak that gives rise to the cork stopper, which is the product of excellence of this material. However, cork has great versatility and can be used in very diverse industries such as aerospace, automotive, construction, consumer goods, flooring, footwear, furniture, panels and composites, electrical industry, joints and seals, and sports surfaces. This cork sculpture, called “Diorama Cork Factory”, is seven meters high and was produced by the urban art artist Alexandre Farto, better known as Vhils. This sculpture expresses the close relationship between the human being and the environment where he works, that is, he explores the social and cultural identity of the individual and the industrial environment where he carries out his activity. This piece also reflects the role of industry in the economy and the lack of investment that the secondary sector has suffered in recent decades. This piece was created at the invitation of Imaginarius, the International Street Theater Festival of Santa Maria da Feira. This Festival is the largest Street Arts event held in Portugal and a national and international reference. Since 2001, it has invested in large international productions and the development of original creations, thus supporting local creators. This Festival includes several sections, namely Mais Imaginarius to promote projects by emerging artists and Imaginarius Infantil with workshops and experiences dedicated to children from 3 to 12 years old. Imaginarius is present in the Circostrada Network and has several partnerships with other festivals and creative projects, which is why it currently integrates the European Street Arts route. In this Festival have passed some world companies that have left their mark on the territory, such as La Fura dels Baus, Royal de Luxe, Titanick Theater, Pippo Delbono, Xarxa Teatre, Transe Express, Leo Bassi, Strange Fruit, Cacahuète, Gran Reyneta, CirkVOST, Hortzmuga Teatroa, KTO Theater, Odin Teatret, Pan Optikum and Antagon Theater AKTion. In addition to these companies, the Festival has counted on the participation of creators such as the Nobel Prize for Literature Dario Fo, photographers Spencer Tunick and Oliviero Toscani, filmmaker Manoel de Oliveira, artist Joana Vasconcelos and master in the art of urban masking Donato Sartori , which involved the community and the public space of the city in their artistic interventions. Some of the most striking creations were the “Entrado”, which involved the participation of 30 prisoners from the Porto Prison, and “The Ghost Train of Santa Maria da Feira”, by Lee Beagley with local artistic structures. Community theater projects, such as “Baralha”, developed with the local gypsy community, “Texturas”, which honored the cork industry, or “EXPANDE”, which explored the traditions surrounding the paper industry, also assume a space of great importance at the Festival.



Church of Misericordia

The Church of Misericórdia of Santa Maria da Feira is classified as a Monument of Public Interest in the Mixed Architecture category since 2012 and is related to the Brotherhood of Misericórdia of Santa Maria da Feira. The foundation of Santa Casa da Misericórdia in Portugal dates from the reign of D. Manuel I (1469-1521), due to the desire to support and help the people in need. Between 1498 and 1525 many Misericórdias were founded across the country. It is expected that Santa Casa da Misericórdia of Santa Maria da Feira was founded in 1594, however some records seem to indicate that this Misericórdia already existed before this date. This Brotherhood was installed in the Chapel of São Francisco, reformed by the community of the Convent of Lóios from 1581 to 1591. Due to the need to expand this space, in 1690 the Brotherhood of Misericórdia started the construction of a new church, where it would have once existed a church dedicated to S. Nicolau. D. Joana Forjaz Pereira Meneses e Silva, 6th Countess of Feira, played an essential role in this initiative, she was also responsible for the reconstruction of the chapel of Nossa Senhora da Encarnação outside the castle walls (1656). In 1632, she was the Director of Santa Casa da Misericórdia for several years. Here we highlight the pioneering spirit of an elected women director in the 17th century, which is a unique and curious case in Portugal. Although the project was carried out at the end of the 17th century, in the middle of the Baroque period, this church has a Mannerist inspiration, above all due to the decorative structure of the main façade. A possible justification may be the influence of the construction of the Church and Convent of Lóios since the beginning of the construction of the Church of Misericórdia will have coincided with the final phase of construction of the Church and Convent of Lóios. The Church of Misericórdia was built in the upper part of the urban center. This is arranged symmetrically in three panels, the center of which is flanked by two bell towers and presents to the portal center, flanked by pilasters topped by pinnacles, and over which a high choir lighting window, topped by an interrupted pediment, was opened by a nicely decorated niche, in a structure that is inspired by the altarpiece façades of the second half of the 16th century. The interior, of a single nave, features a high choir resting on a lowered arch, a tribune of the brotherhood, opened on the wall on the side of the Epistle, and two arches, facing the tribune, which houses the lateral altarpieces. Space is covered by a wooden coffered vault. Opening to the main chappel, the triumphal arch rests on Tuscan pilasters. The main chapel space was built on an elevated platform, accessed by four steps, and is covered by a wooden vault, similar to the nave, decorated and polychrome. The altarpiece was made in the first quarter of the 18th century, in gilded baroque carving. The main altarpiece features images of S. Francisco, S. Sebastião, Nossa Senhora de Campos, and S. Nicolau. The latter must belong to the old parish church of São Nicolau where the Brotherhood of Misericordia was later installed. The wooden image of S. Sebastião is from the 15th century and its particularity is that it represents S. Sebastião wearing underpants. The image of S. Francisco was restored in 1638 so it is necessarily before this date and the wooden image of Nossa Senhora de Campos is probably from the 17th century. In 1755, the great earthquake caused great damage to the central structure of the Church, mainly due to the fall of the nave’s vault, which was later rebuilt in the second half of the 18th century. The interior of the church was to be restored in the 80s of the 20th century. Bibliography Rodrigues, D. S. (2008). Igreja da Misericórdia, História – Segredos e Mistérios. Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Santa Maria da Feira. Santa Maria da Feira.

Municipal Market

The Municipal Market of Santa Maria da Feira has been classified as a Monument of Public Interest since 2012 in the Civil Architecture / Market category. This is a reference work for Portuguese and international architecture from the 50s by architect Fernando Távora. This Market is one of the most studied buildings in architecture courses in Portugal. Fernando Luís Cardoso Meneses de Tavares e Távora was one of the most recognized architects in Portugal and was born in Porto on August 25, 1923. He graduated in Architecture at the School of Fine Arts of Porto in 1946. He worked as a teacher at this school and as an architect is the author of several theoretical works on subjects of his studies. Its importance for architecture in Portugal was recognized with the award of the Ph.D. Honoris Causa by the University of Coimbra, in 1993, and by the award of several architectural prizes. Fernando Távora dies, in Matosinhos, on September 3, 2005. The Feira Municipal Market was one of his first works, which marked his growth as a professional. His project started in 1953 and was later opened in 1959, a request that Santa Maria da Feira City Council made directly to the author. This building was built on a square plot of 50 meters by 50 meters and consists of four pavilions arranged orthogonally to each other, organized on two platforms connected by two stairs. In the inner courtyard on the lower platform, there is a fountain and an octagonal bench. The entire enclosure is organized from a 1m x 1m square module. The covers were designed as a “butterfly cover”. It has reinforced concrete (pillars and roofing slabs), granite (supporting walls and walls), blue and white tiles (coverings), and screed with cobbles (on the floor). This market also has mosaics by Gouvêa Portuense and Álvaro Siza Vieira with figures of traditional products that were sold here. Located in the historic center of the city, this market reflects the surrounding environment. In the design of this work, the author concerned to study the place beforehand in terms of climate, sun exposure, and the materials of the region. In addition to its functionality as a market, the author also recognizes this space as a meeting place for people and therefore the design and construction of this building also consider this dimension. Currently, in addition to its function as a market, this space is also the stage for various cultural activities in the city throughout the year, such as the Christmas Market, which emerged as a complement to the theme park program “Perlim”.

Bibliography: Riso, V. (2018). Reclaiming the use of Fernando Távora’s Municipal Market of Santa Maria da Feira.


Granary and Popular Traditions

The granaries, also known as caniço or canastro are structures where corn is stored, easily found in regions where this cereal is produced. This structure has the function of protecting and storing the harvests from unfavorable weather conditions, to guarantee good conditions of aeration and ventilation and, to guarantee the subsistence of the populations until the next harvest. This is a tall and narrow agricultural structure with wooden slatted walls to facilitate air circulation and protect ears from soil moisture and access to animals such as rodents and birds. The granaries are mainly found in the North of Portugal and Galicia region, in Spain, and can have different construction materials, according to the environment where it is inserted. The granaries are simple constructions made up of two parts: the body – narrow and ventilated inner chamber where the ears are stored; and the seat – structure where the body is placed. The seat is usually built of stone or masonry and consists of four parts: the soco, the feet, the millstones or tables. The soco is built when the terrain is uneven and it is the structure where feet are laid; the feet can be single feet (stone, plumb and in pairs), transverse feet (wide or small stones on parallel walls perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the granary) and massive feet (long wall on which the granary base rests). The millstones and tables are flat pieces of stone that finish off the granary’s feet, which are protruding to prevent the passage of rodent animals. The millstones are circular and are placed individually on each foot, the tables are rectangular and placed on each pair of feet. The granary’s body is another constituent of the construction, which consists of a base (ballast or grid with a floor that rests on the seat), skeleton (structural element of the wooden slat and openings), walls (wooden slat or stone) granite), doors, windows, shutters (openings with sliding hatches) and cover. These structures would have appeared in remote times, with similar functions in the region of Entre Douro e Minho until the 16th century to store other types of food such as wheat and legumes. Corn is a cereal originally from the American continent and it was introduced in Portugal in the 16th century. The granaries can represent the popular traditions of a people who, until the 1930s, were essentially dedicated to agriculture from which they extracted their livelihood. From this decade on, there was a strong industrial development throughout the region. Agricultural work involved dozens of people, men, and women of all ages that worked together and lived with a strong community spirit. In the case of works such as harvesting, mottling, flax crops, and stripping in the homes of wealthy farmers, were served abundant dinner and at the end of a job season, there was always a party with dances, singing, and viola players. In 1981 was created the first Folkloric Group organized in Santa Maria da Feira, called Grupo de Danças e Cantares Regionais do Orfeão da Feira, under the responsibility of Alberto Gilde and which still keep alive and preserved the main folk dances and songs of the people of Feira.

Bibliography Castro, A. L. R. (1991). Factos e Personalidades da Feira e do Concelho 1917 a 1950. Santa Maria da Feira Ribeiro, A. S. F. (2016). Património Vernacular Construído – O beiral, o espigueiro e a eira: formas, usos e contextos. Tese de Mestrado em História da Arte Portuguesa. Faculdade de Letras da Universidade do Porto. Porto.