It’s in the city’s historical center that one can find the major part of its historical buildings and monuments, such as its several churches and the St. Gonçalos’s bridge, a national monument. Music has pervaded these locations within the last few years, playing a major role in the rehabilitation and usage of these places, originally designed for praying and passage. More or less sporadically, these locations are chosen for the presentation of music performances that contemplate different music genres and audiences – from DJ sessions on St. Gonçalo’s Bridge to pipe organ concerts inside St. Gonçalo’s church.
St. Gonçalo Bridge
A national monument since 1910, its construction started in 1781, during the reign of D. Maria I, and was opened in 1790. A year later, its four stone pyramids were added. According to local legend, a previous bridge, built around 1250, was completed due to the efforts of Saint Gonçalo of Amarante. Indeed, his miracles are closely related to its construction, as it is said that he moved huge boulders with his hands, made water flow out of rocks to quench people’s thirst and even commanded fish to gather as food for the gentry.
St. Gonçalo’s Church and Monastery
Historical registers point to the existence of a prior chapel on the same location, built by Saint Gonçalo de Amarante, at the dawn of the XIIIth century. The construction of the current buildings (church and Dominican monastery) started in 1543, ordered by D. João III and D. Catarina of Austria. The church is equipped with a fixed and a portable Iberian pipe organ, and it is in this place that, since 2013, occurs Amarante’s Sacred Music Week, an event bringing the country’s best musicians in the fields of sacred music, choral music and pipe organ. St. Gonçalo’s Church also holds regularly concerts by the Orquestra do Norte.
Senhor dos Aflitos’s Church (St. Domingos’ Church)
Towering above St. Gonçalo’s Church, this building was commissioned by the Ordem Terceira de São Domingos and finished in 1725. A figure of Nosso Senhor dos Aflitos is kept on the main altar and in the adjacent building to the church one can find the Sacred Art Museum. St. Domingos’ church is also equipped with an Iberian pipe organ, which besides being used during mass is also employed in public performances that figure in the parish’s regular event programming.
St. Peter’s Church
This building was erected in 1727 with a baroque styled façade by the St. Peter’s Brotherhood, over the old St. Martinho’s chapel. Just like the St. Domingos’ and the St. Gonçalo’s churches, St. Peter’s has its own Iberian pipe organ, used for public performances, regularly scheduled by the parish.
The establishing of this church is directly related to the XVIth century expansion of the Misericórdias (Houses of Mercy) within Portuguese territory. Amarante’s House of Mercy managed the city shelter’s hospital and the leprosarium. The church itself endured modifications up until the XIXth century and very recently, in an adjacent space, the Centro Interpretativo de Memórias da Misericórdia de Amarante, opened for public.
Solar dos Magalhães (Magalhães’ Manor)
This XVIth century noble house, of which only the outer walls remain, belonged to the Magalhães family. It’s been in ruins since 1809, when it was burned down by French troops during their second invasion of Portugal, and it is said that during that time, for each day of Portuguese resistance to the French occupation, General Loison would retaliate by razing a nobleman’s house. The Magalhães’ Manor, contrary to many other cases in the city, was never rebuilt. It stands as witness to this historical episode and a symbol of the city’s resistance to the foreign invaders.
St. Clara’s Monastery
Its building was ordered in the XIIIth century by D. Mafalda (Infanta of Portugal) and started housing the St. Clara’s Order in 1272. The edifice suffered changes throughout the XVth and XVIth centuries, and was majorly reconstructed after a fire in April 1809, from which only the chapel and main gate remained. The monastery closed in 1834, as Portugal decreed the end of its religious orders, and was sold in public auction to be converted into a private property – the Casa da Cerca. In 1993 the Casa da Cerca was bought by the municipality to hold the City Library and the Municipal Archive. Nowadays, few elements remain of the original monastery complex.
A medieval round arch bridge made from granite, crossing the Ribeira de Padronelo (Padronelo stream) and whose name entitled the nearby Largo do Arquinho (Arquinho Square). The city’s growth hid the structure, which was re-discovered during some urban works in Conselheiro António Cláudio Square and António Carneiro Street.
Museu Municipal Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso
The current museum, once the Municipal Library-Museum, was established in 1947 by Dr. Albano Sardoeira, and aimed for the gathering of evidence, documents and material related to local history and to eminent artists and writers native to Amarante, such as Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso, António Carneiro, Acácio Lino or Manuel Monterroso. Located in St. Gonçalo’s Monastery, whose construction spans from the XVIth to the XVIIIth centuries, the museum gradually took over some of the monastic spaces, as rehabilitation works were being held, before a major requalification project in 1980, under the orientation of the architect Alcino Soutinho. By 1993, the city Library was transferred to Casa da Cerca and the two components of the original institution became independent. The now Municipal Museum Amadeo de Souza Cardoso created in 1997, with support from the City Hall, a biannual prize of the artist’s namesake, exalting his creative achievements. The Museum’s cloister is regularly place for concerts and performances.
Biblioteca Municipal Albano Sardoeira
Amarante’s Municipal Library was created in 1947, by initiative of Dr. Albano Sardoeira, professor and scholar of the city’s history, and by the 1960s it included one of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation’s Permanent Libraries, an important asset in the spreading of books and literacy in the community. Initially the Library was placed in one of the cloisters of the Monastery of St. Gonçalo de Amarante, but on the 1st of November 2003, after the Municipality had bought, in 1993, and rehabilitated the abandoned Casa da Cerca, the Library was transferred to that new location, alongside the Municipal Archive, and re-branded with its current name. Nowadays, this main Library branches into a smaller centre in Vila Meã.
The Albano Sardoeira Municipal Library is part of Portugal’s National Network of Public Readership and orients its managing and functioning principles under those expressed by the UNESCO Public Library Manifesto.