Chapel of São Frutuoso

Braga, Portugal

The Chapel of São Frutuoso is a pre-Romanesque chapel in the civil parish of Real, municipality of Braga. Based on historical accounts, and oral tradition, the site of the chapel was (around 560 AD) the location of a small Roman villa and, likely, a temple dedicated to the god Asclepius.

In 656, Fructuosus of Braga, then Bishop of Bracara, founded on this site the Monastery of São Salvador, ordering the construction of the chapel, as his tomb. In the biography of his life, São Valerius confirms as much, mentioning that the saint who founded the convent was buried there (between 665 and 666).

In the 9th-10th century, the chapel was reconstructed and redecorated. From a document dated in 883, the chapel was reconsecrated to São Salvador, also affirming the original construction to between 656 and 665.

Around the 12th century, following the Reconquista from the Arabs, with the revival of the Christian community and affinity for Saint Frutuoso of Braga, a cult to the saint was begun. In 1102, the Archbishop of Santiago de Compostela, D. Diogo Gelmires, transferred the mortal remains of Frutuoso to Compostela.

In 1523, Archbishop D. Diogo de Sousa founded the Franciscan convent of the Order of the Capuchos da Piedade, alongside the chapel of São Frutuoso, likely destroying the older Monastery of São Salvador.

In 1728, by order of Archbishop D. Rodrigo de Moura Teles, the beginnings of a reconstruction and remodelling of the Convent of São Francisco's Church is undertaken, with the chapel of São Frutuoso integrated into the Church. From this point forward, the Chapel is accessible from the main Church, owing to significant alterations; this changes include, the destruction of the main façade, the modification of the eastern and western arms of the Latin cross-design; and alterations to the internal columns, including changes to the baldachins.

The chapel underwent several restorations in the 20th century.

Architecture

The chapel of São Frutuoso is an uniquely rare example of Visigothic structures in Portugal, based on a Greek-cross, which may have followed the design of a Byzantine mausoleum comparable to the Galla Placidia, in Ravenna.

The church is laid out in a Greek cross design, with a rectangular exterior, and semi-circular interior arms (to the north, south and east). From the exterior, the main volume of the chapel is surmounted by a tower-like cupola and cross, with the roof covered in rounded tiles. The limestone walls are surmounted by edged cornices, preceded by frieses, also in limestone, in the shape of rope, semi-circles, six-pointed rosettas and fleur-de-lis. The collateral façades are decorated with blind arcades, alternating between angular and double rounded-frieses, which are repeated in the tower cupola, and intersected by small round windows. The principal façade, which was the main entrance at one time, is highlighted by a grand arch portico, preceded by staircase. In northern part of the eastern arm of the chapel is an arcosolium, where the mortel remains of Saint Fructuosus was originally entombed, and exposed to the exterior.

Interior

The inner masonry walls are defined by round arches, supported by large pillars, above which are large decorated friezes, with triple horseshoe-shaped arches, and a larger central arch. The chapel's arms are crossed in the middle of the wall by a narrow ribbon of limestone. While the interior arms are supported by wooden joists, the interior part of the hemispherical dome is plastered and painted white. The granite floor slabs are inscribed with coat of arms, and preceded from the main church by a staircase to the lower chapel.

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Details

Founded: 7th century AD
Category: Religious sites in Portugal

More Information

en.wikipedia.org

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Waldomiro vaz lemes (2 years ago)
Muito lindo, tem uma história impressionante do lugar
Abílio-Fernando Vilaça (Avnetav) (3 years ago)
Of great historical interest, being one of the oldest in Braga where S. Frutuoso would have been and passed through, among others! Right next to the former convent of S. Francisco, which is now being restored. It's worth visiting. It is adjacent to the parish church of Real; St. Francis.
Miguel Almeida (4 years ago)
Historical place
Petra Vřesová (5 years ago)
Such interesting historical place! The oldest Christian chapel (from 7th century) in Portugal is hidden next to main church. Place without tourist, we were here almost alone. I appreciate free toalets, it was wery welcome far in outskirt of Braga.
Julian Worker (5 years ago)
This is a wonderful church on the outskirts of Braga. As opposed to Bom Jesus, there was no one around when I visited and it seemed like I walked through a housing estate to get there. I would advise you to follow the road signs to the place rather than use Google Maps. The Capela de São Frutuoso is also known as the Capela de São Frutuoso de Montélios and is a pre-Romanesque chapel that was originally built by the Visigoths.
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