The Manueline (Portuguese: estilo manuelino, IPA: [ɨʃˈtilu mɐnweˈɫinu]), or Portuguese late Gothic, is the sumptuous, composite Portuguese style of architectural ornamentation of the first decades of the 16th century, incorporating maritime elements and representations of the discoveries brought from the voyages of Vasco da Gama and Pedro Álvares Cabral. This innovative style synthesizes aspects of Late Gothic architecture with influences of the Spanish Plateresque style, Mudéjar, Italian urban architecture, and Flemish elements. It marks the transition from Late Gothic to Renaissance. The construction of churches and monasteries in Manueline was largely financed by proceeds of the lucrative spice trade with Africa and India.

The style was given its name, many years later, by Francisco Adolfo de Varnhagen, Viscount of Porto Seguro, in his 1842 book, Noticia historica e descriptiva do Mosteiro de Belem, com um glossario de varios termos respectivos principalmente a architectura gothica, in his description of the Jerónimos Monastery. Varnhagen named the style after King Manuel I, whose reign (1495–1521) coincided with its development. The style was much influenced by the astonishing successes of the voyages of discovery of Portuguese navigators, from the coastal areas of Africa to the discovery of Brazil and the ocean routes to the Far East, drawing heavily on the style and decorations of East Indian temples.

Although the period of this style did not last long (from 1490 to 1520), it played an important part in the development of Portuguese art. The influence of the style outlived the king. Celebrating the newly maritime power, it manifested itself in architecture (churches, monasteries, palaces, castles) and extended into other arts such as sculpture, painting, works of art made of precious metals, faience and furniture.

The dominant characteristic of Manuelino is the exuberance of forms and a strong naturalist-symbolic interpretation of original, erudite or traditional themes. The window, in both religious and secular buildings, is one of the architectural elements where one can best observe this style. These motifs appear in buildings, pillories , tombs or even artistic pieces, as in goldsmithery , of which the Custody of Bethlehem is an example.

The decorative ensemble of a Manueline sculptural element almost always appears as a stone discourse, where various elements and references intersect ( pansemiosis – or ” all meanings “), such as Christian symbolism, alchemy , folk tradition, etc. . The context can be both moralizing and allegorical , jocular (when one points the finger at human defects or obscene details, such as the sexual reference in a gargoyle outside the chapel of St. Nicholas in Guimarães ), esoteric or simply propagandistic in relation to the imperial power of D. Manuel I. It should be noted that this symbolism is also closely linked to heraldry .

The most frequent motifs of the Manueline architecture are the armillary sphere , conferred as a motto by D. João II to his cousin and brother-in-law, future king D. Manuel I, later interpreted as a sign of a divine design for the reign of D. Manuel , the Cross of the Order of Christ and naturalistic elements: Corals , Algae , Artichokes , Pinhas , various animals and fantastic elements: Ouroboros , Mermaids , gargoyles .

This decorative style is characterized by virtuoso complex ornamentation in portals, windows, columns and arcades. In its end period it tended to become excessively exuberant as in Tomar.

Several elements appear regularly in these intricately carved stoneworks:

elements used on ships: the armillary sphere (a navigational instrument and the personal emblem of Manuel I and also symbol of the cosmos), spheres, anchors, anchor chains, ropes and cables.
elements from the sea, such as shells, pearls and strings of seaweed.
botanical motifs such as laurel branches, oak leaves, acorns, poppy capsules, corncobs, thistles.
symbols of Christianity such as the cross of the Order of Christ (former Templar knights), the military order that played a prominent role and helped finance the first voyages of discovery. The cross of this order decorated the sails of the Portuguese ships.
elements from newly discovered lands (such as the tracery in the Claustro Real in the Monastery of Batalha, suggesting Islamic filigree work, influenced by buildings in India)
columns carved like twisted strands of rope
semicircular arches (instead of Gothic pointed arches) of doors and windows, sometimes consisting of three or more convex curves
multiple pillars
eight-sided capitals
lack of symmetry
conical pinnacles
bevelled crenellations
ornate portals with niches or canopies.


The artistic ” discourse ” present in Manueline style, although it began to be constructed even before the reign of D. Manuel, had a considerable influence of the own personality of the monarch, of its aspirations in the world context, especially the project of a crusade which would unify the Christian world of the West with the mythical Eastern Christian kingdom of Prester John , making it the ” King of the Seas ” (and was in fact designated by so many foreign authors).

The Manueline style conveys in large part these messianic aspirations of a king whose ascension to power was at least unusual after death followed by other direct heirs to the throne (such as Prince D. Afonso and his brother D. Diogo, murdered ). However, from the interpretation given to the expression ” Spera Mundi “, in the armillary sphere, which was granted to him as a currency, until the interpretation of his own name, Emanuel (“God with us” in Hebrew), given by his mother when this was born after a long and painful labor that ended only when the Corpus Christi Procession passed by on the street, several were the “signs” that indicated that this king was God’s “Chosen One” for great deeds. The very political conception of this king, influenced by its perceiver Diogo Rebelo and the joaquinismo would make believe that it was destined to found the Fifth Empire of the Prophecy of Daniel .

These messianic and apocalyptic references are also present in painting (as in the frescoes of the ” Casa Pintadas ” in Évora and in the ” Apparition of Christ to the Virgin ” by Jorge Afonso ). A clear example also appears in the representation of the king and queen D. Maria, in the foreground, in the painting ” Fons Vitae “, belonging to the Mercy of Porto, an anonymous painter but according to some of Colijn de Coter , in a crucifixion scene and where the blood of Christ flows into a gigantic Grail .

Main authors
In northern Portugal, the main authors of this style, from Galicia or Biscay, were Tomé de Tolosa , Francisco Fial and Pêro Galego , who participated in the creation of the Mother Church of Caminha , as well as João de Vargas and João de Parmenes , who worked together with the Portuguese João Lopes in the Cathedral of Lamego . The Cantabrian João de Castilho , responsible for the galilee and the main chapel of the Cathedral of Braga , also left its mark in the Jeronimos Monastery, where the figure of Diogo Boitaca , creator of the Jesus Monastery of Setúbal . In addition to Boitaca, the center of Portugal also has the remarkable work of Mateus Fernandes , well represented in the portal of the Imperfect Chapels , in the Monastery of Batalha .

There is also talk of a ” second generation Manueline “, after the economic upsurge in Portugal, as a result of the Discoveries. Castilho, Boitaca and the brothers Francisco and Diogo de Arruda , who designed the Torre de Belém , are its main representatives.

There are also the names of Manuel Pires , João Favacho , Pêro and Filipe Rodrigues , Álvaro Rodrigues , André Pires , João Dias , Diogo Pires, Moço , among others.

The Manueline architecture
This artistic tendency was known at the time as the Portuguese variant of the ad modum Yspaniae architecture (in the Hispanic way) which, in turn, was included in the architectural current “to the modern” – an expression used for late Gothic where there was also the variant , for example, in the Tudesque or German way in the then new Nordic architecture. This chain was opposed to architecture in the old or Roman way .

As a whole, it changes little in relation to the formal structure of the German and Plateresque Gothic . The interior elevation of the churches is maintained through the east-west orientation, the plant , the support and coverage systems, and the calculation of proportions. The ships of the same height, influenced by the German church-hall , five sections, absence of transept and rectangular headwaters are the main differential characteristics. Although essentially ornamental, the Manuelino is also characterized by the application of certain technical formulas of height, such as vaults with ribs polinervadas from corbels .

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In the civil component stand out the palaces , such as the Palace of D. Manuel in Évora , and rural plots , such as the Solar de Semper Noiva , in Arraiolos , all with a rectangular plan. And in the military typology it is greater reference the bastion of Restelo , the Tower of Belém . One of the first artillery bastions of the country, breaking the tradition of the towers of menagem, its rectangular plant overlaps to a polyhedral base, that penetrate Tejo in . The rectangularity of the plant opposes the curvilinear of the carved decoration.

Sculpture and Ornamental motifs
The most important motifs of Manueline architecture are:

National symbols :
The armillary sphere (” the sphere of mathematicians ” conferred as a motto by D. João II to his cousin and brother-in-law, D. Manuel (future king D. Manuel I), who, having written in the meridian ” Spera Mundi ” – Sphere of the World – was later interpreted as a sign of a divine design for the reign of King Manuel that presents itself in the artistic motifs of the style as ” Hope of the World “, as could also be interpreted the expression inscribed therein). Sometimes he also had the Latin acronym for this king’s personal motto : Manuel Orbis Rex Est ( MORE ) or Manuel Rex Orbis Est ( MROE ).
The Cross of the Order of Christ ;
National shield;

Naturalistic elements :
Corals ;
Algae ;
Dry trees. They also appear in the final Gothic of Central Europe, using the term ” astwerk ” to describe their use – they are therefore a characteristic feature of the Late Gothic and refer to the Franciscan aesthetic, with a markedly naturalistic and austere character. On the other hand, it is an element that was used by Gothic detractors who considered the barbaric and primitive style – barren as a dry tree. Its knobbly roots and trunks have a remarkable presence in the Monastery of Alcobaça, in the window of the Chapter of Tomar, on the bust of the founder; in the Church of Vilar de Frades or in the Paço de Sintra .
Artichokes (symbol of regeneration and resurrection – being therefore burned in the festivities of St. John, hoping that it will grow again);
Laurel leaves, as in the Cloister of D. João I, in the Monastery of Batalha;
Pomegranates (as in the lateral doors of the Mother Church of Golegã – symbol of fertility, by the extraordinary quantity of seeds that contain)
Ivy leaves;
Pinhas (fertility and / or immortality – sometimes interpreted as being ears of corn or cobs) – are visible, for example, on the portal of the Mother Church of Golegã;
Snails or nautilus shells (as in the Vestiaria Church , in Alcobaça , or at the entrance of the Imperfect Chapels , in the Batalha Monastery , perhaps symbolizing the slowness of the work);
Various animals
Putti (children)

Fantastic elements :
Ouroboros (the serpent that bites its own tail: symbol of the Universe: the union of the beginning and the end)
Mermaids (a motif of profane art, perhaps they were a reference to several similar words and to the associated symbolism: they will be , or the time when the productive cycle of cardar of wool would be fulfilled, serenade , ritual of courtship linked to the sin of the flesh, in seraglio , etc);
Monsters (mainly the gargoyles , but also others, like dragons and animals of open mouth, devouring its own body)
Earwigs (heads with oversized ears, as in the Santa Cruz de Coimbra chair);
Animals performing human actions in a carnival perspective, such as playing musical instruments.

Christian Symbolism :
Bunches of grapes and branches (related to the ” Vine of the Lord ” and the Eucharist ), as in Luz de Tavira;
Agnus Dei

Other reasons :
The intertwined ropes and cables, often doing us , as in the Cathedral of Viseu, the Tower of Belém or the House of Alpoins , in Coimbra.
Belts with large buckles, as in the Chorus of the Convent of Christ, in Tomar;
Half spheres, as in the Church of the Conception , in Beja;
Tapered pinnacles with different shape beads ;
Torsal columns (as in the portal of the Mother Church of Golegã or in the Cathedral of Guarda)
Chains, as in the archivolt of the main portal of the House of Sub-Ripas, in Coimbra;
Busts of historical characters;
Head of infants (children)
Fine drawings, similar to those of the Spanish silver , their contemporaries.
Basketwork references;

When King Manuel I died in 1521, he had funded 62 construction projects. However, much original Manueline architecture in Portugal was lost or damaged beyond restoration in the 1755 Lisbon earthquake and subsequent tsunami. In Lisbon, the Ribeira Palace, residence of King Manuel I, and the Hospital Real de Todos os Santos (All-Saints Hospital) were destroyed, along with several churches. The city, however, still has outstanding examples of the style in the Jerónimos Monastery (mainly designed by Diogo Boitac and João de Castilho) and in the small fortress of the Belém Tower (designed by Francisco de Arruda). Both are located close to each other in the Belém neighbourhood. The portal of the Church of Nossa Senhora da Conceição Velha, in downtown Lisbon, has also survived destruction.

Outside Lisbon, the church and chapter house of the Convent of the Order of Christ at Tomar (designed by Diogo de Arruda) is a major Manueline monument. In particular, the large window of the chapter house, with its fantastic sculptured organic and twisted rope forms, is one of the most extraordinary achievements of the Manueline style.

Other major Manueline monuments include the arcade screens of the Royal Cloister (designed by Diogo Boitac) and the Unfinished Chapels (designed by Mateus Fernandes) at the Monastery of Batalha and the Royal Palace of Sintra.

Other remarkable Manueline buildings include the church of the Monastery of Jesus of Setúbal (one of the earliest Manueline churches, also designed by Diogo Boitac), the Santa Cruz Monastery in Coimbra, the main churches in Golegã, Vila do Conde, Moura, Caminha, Olivença and portions of the cathedrals of Braga (main chapel), Viseu (rib vaulting of the nave) and Guarda (main portal, pillars, vaulting). Civil buildings in Manueline style exist in Évora (home to the Évora Royal Palace of 1525, by Pedro de Trillo, Diogo de Arruda and Francisco de Arruda) and the Castle of Évoramonte of 1531), Viana do Castelo, Guimarães and some other towns.

The style was extended to the decorative arts and spread throughout the Portuguese Empire, to the islands of the Azores, Madeira, enclaves in North Africa, Brazil, Goa in Portuguese India and even Macau, China. Its influence is apparent in southern Spain, the Canary Islands, North Africa and the former Spanish colonies of Peru and Mexico.

Among the most remarkable works of the Manueline, we have to mention:

In the north of Portugal , where it is present from the beginning of the 16th century and where the ” flaming ” decoration and the churches are divided into three naves :
Pelourinho of Arcos de Valdevez ;
Mother Church of Caminha ;
Main Chapel of the Cathedral of Braga ;
House and Coimbra Chapel , in Braga ;
Mother Church of Vila do Conde ;
Mother Church of Freixo de Espada à Cinta ;
Monastery of Leça do Balio (baptismal font);
In the Center of Portugal :
Church of the Monastery of Santa Cruz de Coimbra ; (tombs, church, cloister);
New Cathedral of Coimbra , ( baptismal font );
São Miguel Chapel, University of Coimbra ;
Cathedral of Guarda , torsos pillars in the interior and lateral entrance;
Convent of Christ of Tomar , where stands the magnificent window of the Chapter;
Church of St. John the Baptist of Tomar ;
Mother Church of Golegã ;
Cartaxo Cruise ;
Certain parts of the Monastery of Santa Maria da Vitória (or of Batalha ) (UNESCO World Heritage)
The triumphal arch of the Church of Our Lady of Pópulo , in Caldas da Rainha;
The room of the coats and windows in the Royal Palace of Sintra ;
Quinta de Ribafria , in Sintra;
Jeronimos Monastery in Lisbon (UNESCO World Heritage)
Torre de Belém , Lisbon (UNESCO World Heritage)
Convent of the Mother of God , Lisbon ;
Conceição Velha Church , Lisbon;
Portal of the Church of the Madalena , Lisbon;
Jeronimos Chapel , Lisbon;
Royal Hospital of All Saints , Lisbon (destroyed in the 1755 earthquake );
Church of the old Jesus Monastery in Setúbal;
lateral entrance of the Church of S. Julião , Setúbal
In the South of Portugal :
Church of St. Francis , in Évora ;
Convent of the Loios , Évora;
Palace of D. Manuel I , Évora;
Castle of Évora-monte , municipality of Estremoz ;
Mother Church of Viana do Alentejo ;
Igreja Matriz do Torrão , Alcácer do Sal ;
Chapel of Nossa Senhora das Salvas , Sines ;
Mother Church of Moura ;
Igreja Matriz de Monchique , in one of the most characteristic local variants of the style.
Matriz da Luz Church of Tavira – Tavira, Algarve;
Mother Church of Odiáxere , very characteristic of the Manuelino call of Lagos .
Church of the Mercy of Loulé ;
In the Autonomous Regions :
Funchal Cathedral in Funchal ( Madeira )
Quinta das Cruzes in Funchal ( Madeira )
Mother Church of Ponta Delgada ( Azores )
A window of the City Hall of Ribeira Grande , São Miguel, Azores
The style is still noticeable outside of Portugal , in old colonies and strong squares:
In Morocco :
Portuguese Cistern and Church of the Assumption of Mazagão (present El-Jadida ) (UNESCO World Heritage)
ancient Cathedral of Safim (now Safi )
In Cape Verde :
Pelourinho and other elements of the old Ribeira Grande (UNESCO World Heritage)
In Mozambique :
Chapel of Our Lady of the Baluarte , in Ilha de Moçambique (UNESCO World Heritage)
Palace of São Paulo, on the Island of Mozambique (UNESCO World Heritage)
In India :
Church of the Priory of the Rosary in Goa (UNESCO World Heritage)
Church of St. Francis in Goa (UNESCO World Heritage)
Diu Fortress
In Oman :
parts of the Al-Jalali Fortress in Muscat
Fort of Caçapo , in the peninsula of Moçandão
In Iran :
cisterns of the fortress of ancient Hormuz
Fortress of Queixome
In Bahrain
ruins of Qala’at al-Bahrain fort chapel
More sporadically, it also appears in parts of Spain and in former Spanish colonies where Portuguese friars-architects exert themselves, as in the case of Mexico:
In Spain :
Church of Santa Maria Magdalena and Paços do Concelho, in Olivença , a city that was Portuguese territory until the beginning of the 19th century. (Currently the territory is the subject of litigation between Portugal and Spain).
Church of Almonaster la Real
Pillory of Ceclavín
Chapel of the Vélez, in the Cathedral of Murcia
Church of Santa Maria Maior in Pontevedra
Mansion of Espriella, in Llanes
interior of the Cathedral of Las Palmas
In Mexico ] :
Church of the Conception, in Texcoco
north door of the church of the Convent of San Miguel in Huejotzingo .

Famous Manueline artists

Diogo Boitac
Mateus Fernandes
Diogo de Arruda
Francisco de Arruda
João de Castilho

Vasco Fernandes
Jorge Afonso
Cristóvão de Figueiredo
Garcia Fernandes
Gregório Lopes

Source From Wikipedia