Villages

Santa Maria Church or Cathedral

Idanha-a-Velha

Idanha-a-Velha

The current layout of the church is due to its restoration by Fernando de Almeida. It refurbished the 16th century church and marked the end of successive alterations although the intention was to restore the church to its original form. The location chosen for the church has a long religious tradition. A place of worship was built here in the 4th or early 5th century. In the mid-6th century, a Christian church was built nearby. The date of the new construction no doubt coincides with the elevation of the town to a bishopric, probably during the Suebian domination. The church that is the architectural inspiration of the one we have today was built during the Muslim occupation. It was constructed by the local Mozarabs in the late 9th century, when the churches in the diocese were restored. This remarkable piece of Mozarab architecture attests to the town’s vitality in the Muslim era. Later it seems to have been converted to a mosque. We know little about the changes made to convert the building to the new religion. It was in ruins in the mid-13th century. The Knights Templar are thought to have restored part of the ruins to build a church dedicated to The Virgin. The building’s crystallised form seems to be due to this restoration rather than that done in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. The work consolidated the northern end of the church, introduced a belfry on the east side of the gable on the north side, formed by two symmetrical round arches and a small oculus in the highest part. Main doors were installed in the western and northern sides. By order of King Manuel, Governor of the Order of Christ, new works began in 1497. The part of Idanha-a-Velha’s monuments and its surroundings were restored as part of the Aldeias Históricas project.