Southern-most region of mainland Portugal. Its name is derived from ‘the West’ in Arabic. This region has relatively few medieval buildings: devastating earthquakes in 1722 and 1755 contributed to these losses, though many buildings were deliberately destroyed during the Middle Ages. For example, in the 12th century the Almoravids likely razed a pilgrimage church, described in Arabic sources, at the tip of the cape of S Vicente. Mosques at Faro, Silves and Tavira, among others, appear to have been levelled to make room for church construction after the Reconquest of the region, completed in ...
Situated at the end of the Esquiline Hill and formerly known as S Maria ad Praesepem, S Maria Maggiore was traditionally founded by Pope Liberius (reg 352–66) and financed by Johannes, a rich citizen, after a miraculous summer snowfall. It is more likely, however, that it was founded in the early 5th century by Sixtus III, whose name appears in the mosaics of the triumphal arch in front of the apse. The church had a nave and aisles, the nave more than twice as wide as the aisles, and there was a single apse. Monolithic Ionic columns supporting a continuous entablature divided the nave from the aisles; above these, clerestory windows corresponded to the intercolumniations below. The windows were flanked by Corinthian pilasters aligned over the Ionic columns of the colonnade, and these were inset with a double tier of stucco colonnettes with fluting that spiralled right and left. Beneath each window was an aedicule encasing a mosaic panel....