Cistercian abbey in Portugal. The abbey, dedicated to S Maria, was founded as part of the policy of repopulation and territorial improvement of the first king of Portugal, Alfonso I (reg 1139–85), who in 1152 granted a large area of land to St Bernard of Clairvaux by a charter known as the Carta dos Coutos (Lisbon, Arquiv. N.). Work on the monastery started in 1158 and adhered to the rigid precepts of the Order. Although the exterior was extended and altered in the 17th and 18th centuries, especially the Baroque façade of the church, the interior essentially preserves its original Early Gothic appearance.W. Beckford: Recollections of an Excursion to the Monasteries of Alcobaça and Batalha (London, 1835/R 1972) M. V. Natividade: Ignez de Castro e Pedro o Cru perante a iconografia dos seus túmulos (Lisbon, 1910) E. Korrodi: Alcobaça: Estudo histórico, arqueológico e artístico da Real Abadia de Alcobaça...
Lucília Verdelho da Costa
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 1249. Further excavations could shed much light on this history.
Highlights in the Algarve include remains at Milreu of a villa with elaborate mosaics that rank among the most substantial Roman sites in the region. The site further preserves foundations of a basilica, likely constructed in the 5th century, and traces of what may be a baptistery, perhaps added during the period of Byzantine occupation in the 6th and 7th centuries. The period of Islamic rule, from the 8th century through to the 13th, witnessed the construction of many fortifications, including examples at Aljezur, Loulé and Salir, which were mostly levelled by earthquakes. Silves, a city with origins in the Bronze Age, preserves a substantial concentration of relatively well-preserved Islamic monuments. These include a bridge, carved inscriptions, a castle, cistern and fortified walls, along which numerous ceramics have been excavated. Most extant medieval churches in Algarve date to the period after the Reconquest. These tend to be modest in design and small in scale, such as the 13th-century Vera Cruz de Marmelar, built over Visigothic or Mozarabic foundations. The relatively large cathedrals at Silves and at Faro preserve substantial portions dating to the 13th century, as well as fabric from subsequent medieval campaigns. Renaissance and Baroque churches and ecclesiastical furnishings can be found throughout Algarve....