The Monastery of St Martin of Tibães was the mother house of the Benedictine order in Portugal and Brazil, and it is known for its church's exuberant Rococo interior.
The first information about a monastic community in the regio dates from the 6th century. The Monastery of Tibães was founded around 1060, and its feudal rights were granted by Henry of Burgundy, Count of Portugal, in 1110. During the Middle Ages, after the Kingdom of Portugal became independent, rich and vast properties in the North of the country came into the Monastery's possession. However, due to the extensive reconstruction work carried out in the 17th and 18th centuries, there are no architectural remnants from this early period.
In 1567, the monastery became the mother house of the Order of Saint Benedict for Portugal and the colony of Brazil, with the first general gathering of the Order in Tibães in 1570. In the first half of the 17th century, with the ruined condition of the old monastery and the vast resources at their disposal, the monks began the radical rebuilding that gave origin to the ensemble that exists today. The works began with the refectory and cemetery cloisters and the church, which was built between 1628 and 1661 in Mannerist style by architects Manuel Álvares and João Turriano. By the beginning of the 18th century the monastery's new wings were finished, including the Gate House, the Dormitory, the Guest House, the Chapter House and the Library.
During the 17th and 18th centuries, the monastery was a site of considerable artistic activity and had an enormous influence in the Baroque and Rococo art of Northern Portugal and overseas colonies. In the years 1757-1760, architect André Soares designed the main altarpiece and the woodwork of the triumphal arch of the main chapel, as well as the pulpits and lateral altarpieces, all of which are landmarks in Portuguese Rococo art. The gilded woodwork was sculpted by famed José de Santo António Vilaça. Many statues in the church are by the hand of another celebrated sculptor, Cipriano da Cruz.
After it was sold at auction in 1864, the Tibães Monastery and its surrounding areas fell into decay and ruin. A great part of the ensemble, including the refectory cloister, was destroyed in a fire in 1894. In 1986 the Monastery became state property, and an extensive recovery project was begun that continues to this day.References:
The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.
The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick. The tower was likely inhabited by the principal family or clan of the area but also served as a last resort for the village in case of an attack.
The broch continued to be inhabited while it began to collapse and the original structures were altered. The cistern was filled in and the interior was repartitioned. The ruin visible today reflects this secondary phase of the broch's use.
The site is surrounded by three ditches cut out of the rock with stone ramparts, encircling an area of around 45 metres diameter. The remains of numerous small stone dwellings with small yards and sheds can be found between the inner ditch and the tower. These were built after the tower, but were a part of the settlement's initial conception. A 'main street' connects the outer entrance to the broch. The settlement is the best-preserved of all broch villages.
Pieces of a Roman amphora dating to before 60 AD were found here, lending weight to the record that a 'King of Orkney' submitted to Emperor Claudius at Colchester in 43 AD.
At some point after 100 AD the broch was abandoned and the ditches filled in. It is thought that settlement at the broch continued into the 5th century AD, the period known as Pictish times. By that time the broch was not used anymore and some of its stones were reused to build smaller dwellings on top of the earlier buildings. Until about the 8th century, the site was just a single farmstead.
In the 9th century, a Norse woman was buried at the site in a stone-lined grave with two bronze brooches and a sickle and knife made from iron. Other finds suggest that Norse men were buried here too.