ARCHITECT, Portuguese
(active 1140-1180 in Coimbra)

Interior view

Cathedral, Coimbra (Portugal)

In the twelfth century, Portugal was only one of several kingdoms on the Iberian Peninsula which partly looked towards France for its cultural development, whilst at the same time maintaining its strong links with Castile and León and particularly with its neighbour in the north, Galicia. This is quite obvious in its religious architecture.

Portugal's great Romanesque cathedrals in Coimbra, Évora and Lisbon generally follow the same basic plan, a slightly modified version of that of Santiago. The westblock, usually designed as a westfront with two towers, is adjoined by an aisled nave with galleries above the side-aisles and a barrel-vaulted central nave. Situated further east is the aisleless transept with a central tower and a group of three apses arranged in echelon.

The construction of the old cathedral of the former Portuguese capital of Coimbra was started around 1140 and it was consecrated in 1180. Seen from the outside, its compact appearance and the ring of battlements surmounting the nave walls give the building the character of a fortified church.

The centre of the façade is dominated by a mighty, two-storey entrance porch with a deeply recessed main entrance on the ground level and a window of similar design above it.

The interior shows clearly how close the connection is between the cathedral of Coimbra and the churches along the pilgrims' route: it seems like a copy, on a reduced scale, of the cathedral of Santiago.

The photo shows a view of the nave.

View the ground plan of the Cathedral, Coimbra.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.