Monastery Of Saint Michael Of Refojos

The Monastery of Saint Michael of Refojos, located in Cabeceiras de Basto, is known as the ‘Jewel of the Portuguese Baroque in Terras de Basto’. Although the exact date of its foundation is unknown, it is known that the first document relating to the Monastery dates back to 1122, having received a charter from King Afonso Henriques in 1131.

The ruinous administration of the commendatory abbots led to the decay of the space, which was reversed with the integration of the monastery into the Portuguese Benedictine Congregation in 1570. In the first half of the 17th century, work was carried out to rebuild, enlarge and embellish the monastery. Only the cloister remains from this period.

In the middle of the 17th century, the monastery suffered a violent fire, and at the end of the century, work began on the new monastery. The building was by then the second largest Benedictine monastery after Tibães, known as the “Great House”.

Construction of the new church began in 1755 and was completed in 1766. The project was possibly the responsibility of André Soares, an architect from Braga. All the interior decoration of the church followed the design of Friar José de Santo António Vilaça. One of the church’s distinctive features is its Juniper Tree – unique among the monasteries of the Benedictine Order in Portugal – which culminates with a statue of the Archangel St. Michael in its dome.

Following the extinction of the Religious Orders in 1834, the Monastery was nationalized and sold to private individuals, and its contents were damaged and dispersed. Many works of art disappeared or were destroyed. The church became a parish church. Over the years the space served various purposes, such as a court, a tax office and a land registry office. In 1944, a private school was set up in part of the building, which was later acquired by the Archdiocese of Braga.

Cabeceiras de Basto Town Hall is currently housed in the building.

The church and sacristy have been classified as a Property of Public Interest since 1933.

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