Categories: Architecture

Rococo architecture in Portugal

Rococo architecture entered Portugal through the north, while Lisbon, due to the court pomp, remained in the Baroque. It’s an architecture that follows the international taste in decoration, and, as a result of the contrast between dark granite and white walls, has a clearly Portuguese profile. The decoration is naturalist, based mainly in shells and leaves but also with architectural elements and sculpture. Pilgrimage places became fashionable, often built in places of rough prominence, allowing impressive staircases of big scenographic effect. André Soares worked in the region of Braga, and produced some of the main examples such as Falperra Sanctuary, Congregados Church, the Braga City Hall and Casa do Raio, among many others. The number of buildings and architects is large and, because the north of Portugal was spared from the ravages of the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, there is a large number of buildings.

In the south, as a result of the lower population density, the court taste and also of the consequence of the earthquake there are fewer rococo buildings. But there still remain many examples such as the Queluz Palace. Designed by Mateus Vincent de Oliveira, it became the residence of the royal family under the reign of Queen Maria I. Made according to the French taste for prince Dom Pedro, King José’s brother, it is characterized by good taste and elegance. It boasts rococo gardens and water games in a large park. The interior is decorated with paintings, sculptures, mirrors, tile, and gilded woodcarving. The chapel, as a result of the junction of carved wood, marble and coloured stones, reflects a classical taste unusual in the Portuguese Rococo. The building received subsequent extensions during the neoclassical period.

Lisbon’s main Rococo church, the Estrela Basilica, is the last major Rococo building in the city, showing the influence of Mafra Palace / Basilica/ Convent, but has also undeniable similarities with Pombaline style churches, particularly in the front. The elegant towers and dome can’t hide the Pombaline style vocabulary at the façade, despite the sculpture and relieves. The interior is covered with traditional Baroque coloured marbles.

The Rococo (from the French word rocaille, meaning “shell”), comes into Portugal from the north, while Lisbon, because of the pomp of the court, remains clinging to the Baroque. It is an architecture that follows the great international chain very decorated, and, due to the dark granite in contrast with the white walls, of clearly Portuguese profile. The decoration is naturalistic, mainly based on shells and acanthus leaves, but also architectural elements and sculpture. The places of pilgrimage, often built in places of rugged relief, are becoming fashionable, allowing imposing staircases with a great scenic effect like Our Lady of Remedies in Lamego. André Soaresit stands out in the region of Braga, being the main examples the Shrine of the Falperra, the Church of the Congregates, the Municipality of Braga and the House of the Ray, among many others. The number of works and architects is large and, as the north of Portugal was spared the earthquake, these buildings are numerous.

In the south, due to the lower population density, greater influence of the court and as a consequence of the earthquake are less frequent. But even so there are several examples of which stands out the Palace of Queluz. Run second draft Mateus Vicente de Oliveira becomes residence of the court during the reign of Maria I. Made according to the French taste for the prince D. Pedro, brother of D. José I, is characterized by great refinement and elegance. It develops around a boxwood garden with water games and a large park. The interiors are decorated with painting, sculpture, mirrors, tiles, stucco and carvinggilt following the French taste. The chapel, due to the junction of carving, colored marbles and semi-precious stones, reflects an unusual classic taste in the Portuguese Rococo. The building is receiving further enlargements during the Neoclassical period.

The main Rococo church of Lisbon, the Basilica of the Star, is the last great Rococo building in the city, reveals the influence of the Palace / Basilica / Convent of Mafra, but there is no denying similarities with the Pombaline churches,. The elegant bell towers and dome can not hide the Pombaline vocabulary on the facade, despite the sculpture and reliefs. The interior is covered with colorful marbles, trying to maintain a tradition opposite the Pombaline.

The Pombalino
The Pombalino is again, like the Chã architecture, fruit of the need and the spirit of initiative of Portugal. It is named after the Marquis of Pombal, the powerful minister of D. José, the chief promoter of the rebuilding and the true ruler of the kingdom, without which such a great work would not have been possible. Also important is the reference to the architects Manuel da Maia and Carlos Mardel, true authors of the proposals presented.

It is a kind of intelligent and well-designed architecture, encompassing the first anti-seismic system and the first large-scale prefabricated construction method in the world. It consists of a flexible wooden structure inserted in the walls, floors and roofs, later covered by prefabricated building materials, which, as it was said at the time, “fires but does not fall”. Downtown Lisbon, the most affected area, is built in an unstable area, and it is necessary to strengthen the entire area. Another anti-seismic system is used, consisting of a real forest of buried piles. These, as they are exposed to salt water, do not run the risk of rotting while retaining their natural elasticity. It wascity in a revolutionary way and undoubtedly for the first time in the world on this scale.

The prefabricated system is completely innovative for the time. The building is entirely manufactured outside the city, transported in parts, and later assembled on site. For the first time a city is built on these terms. Although the reconstruction works of the city dragged on until the nineteenth century, a few years later, still in the king’s lifetime, the population was duly housed and with conditions that did not exist before the earthquake.

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The city is completely modified. The streets of medieval layout, with labyrinthine aspect, give place to an orthogonal rectilinear tracing, regularizing the area comprised between the old squares of the city, Rossio and Terreiro do Paço, also corrected and ordered. The spaces are ample, allowing illumination and aeration conditions that do not exist in the medieval city.

The Commerce Square, without the Royal Palace, transferred to Ajuda, is open to the river Tagus and is designed to receive the various ministries. It is dominated by two twin turrets, inspired by the old turret of the Royal Palace, monumented by a statue of King D. José, by Machado de Castro, and receives an arch of triumph, built only in the nineteenth century according to a project different from the original one, symbolizing triumph over the earthquake. It’s the square of power.

The Rossio loses the old and shattered Hospital of All Saints, and becomes the ” forum ” of the city, trying to maintain the popular character despite the elegant buildings. The streets are hierarchized conditioning the typology of buildings built.

The Pombalino building is a structure up to nine floors, with arcades for shops on the ground floor, balconies or balconies on the first floor and penthouse in stolen water. All the constructions follow the same typology, being added decorative details in the facade according to the importance of the place. The buildings are insulated by door breaks and respecting the maximum volumetry imposed – it was considered that the four floors were the ideal ones in case of a new catastrophe.

The building of the palaces is also regulated, forcing a sobriety without ostentation, very unpopular among the aristocracy, allowing decorative effects only in the portal and windows a little more elegant than the residential buildings.

The churches follow the spirit of the time. The number is drastically reduced, following the same constructive principles, some exterior architectural decoration and well-defined typologies. They are buildings of single nave with lateral altars, internal decoration following the forms of the Rococo, materials made in wood and stucco, some painting (stand out the works of Pedro Alexandrino de Carvalho ) and sculpture. The spaces are pleasant, soft, bright and, despite the prefabricated construction, well to Rococó taste. Of note are the churches of Santo António da Sé (where Santo António was born), the Incarnation, St. Dominic, Magdalene, Martyrs and many others. Maintaining the aesthetic vocabulary and prefabricated decorative elements there was the concern to individualize them. In less destroyed buildings it was tried to harmonize the pombaline forms with the existing decoration.

The Pombaline, despite being despotically imposed in Lisbon, pleased and was built elsewhere, the main example being Vila Real de Santo António in the Algarve.

Simplicity is total. This spirit of functionality, eliminating all that is superfluous, including decoration, imposing a rational sobriety, is no longer really Rococo. It reflects the spirit of Enlightenment and a strong neoclassical character, still without classical architectural orders, but subjecting the accessory to reason. This detail has been systematically forgotten by the history of art, desiring to see either French Rococo or traditional neoclassicism in a constructive program that is too modern and modern for its time.

Source from Wikipedia