Monastery of Saint Mary of Arouca

The Monastery of Saint Mary of Arouca was founded in the 10th century. It began as a men’s monastery, but in the middle of the 12th century it was handed over to the Benedictine nuns and has been exclusively for women since then. This monastery was the home of D. Mafalda, daughter of D. Sancho I and beatified in 1792.

The monastery was completely rebuilt in the 18th century, following the total destruction of the previous one. The church dates from between 1704 and 1730. A fire hit the monastery in 1725, forcing it to be rebuilt in parts. In 1798, the work had not yet been completed.

In 1886, the monastery closed due to the death of the last nun and all its assets passed to the Public Treasury. By then the monastic spaces were abandoned and in a state of disrepair.

The Royal Brotherhood of Queen Santa Mafalda was created in 1886 and became the main driving force behind the founding of the Arouquense Museum of Sacred Art, which was inaugurated in 1933 in the old monastic facilities.

In 1935 the monastery suffered a fire and subsequent reconstruction work.

Between the beginning of the 20th century and the end of the 1940s, several proposals were made by the central government to occupy the Arouca complex. It was only in 1948 that a consensus was reached, with the former monastic structures being ceded to the Salesian Institute with a view to setting up a college, which remained there from 1960 to 1982.

The monastery of Saint Mary of Arouca was elevated to the category of National Monument in 1910.

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