From Old to New: The Transformation of the Castle of Porto de Mós

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Articulated with the neighbouring villages of Ourém and Pombal, Porto deMós played a strategic role in the defence of the important cities of Leiriaand Coimbra since medieval times. In the thirteenth century, under King Dinis,the castle acquired its relatively regular shape with four towers, whichwas the basis of subsequent reforms, such as the fourteenth-century additionof a fifth tower, by King Fernando. The last major construction campaignthat added a palace to the castle took place in the mid-years of the fifteenthcentury and is due to Afonso, fourth Count of Ourém and putative heir to theduke of Braganza. While the exact date of Afonso’s campaign is not known,most of the works must have taken place after the count’s return to Portugalfrom his second trip to Italy, in 1452, since they included innovations ofan experimental character that originate there. On the one hand, they introducednew military features to the castle including openings for firearms.On the other hand, they increased the available liveable space as well theresidential character of the castle through the addition of tiled roofs risingabove the battlements and new (as well as novel) loggias. The interior of thebuilding was subdivided and much altered, maintaining a small distributionpatio followed by the main courtyard around which a series of new chambersis organized. New features reflecting increasingly sophisticated notionsof comfort were also added such as fireplaces, and large windows and loggiasproviding striking views over the surrounding landscape. In order to understandthe resulting fortified palace, one must take into account Afonso’scosmopolitan life and his long voyages in Europe, especially in Italy. After theworks due to him, the palace of Porto de Mós reflected the most advancedEuropean innovations in both military and residential architecture of its timeand could not be rivalled by any of its other Portuguese counterparts.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInvestigating and writing architectural history
Subtitle of host publicationsubjects, methodologies and frontiers
EditorsMichela Rosso
PublisherPolitecnico di Torino
Number of pages9
ISBN (Print)978-88-8202-048-4
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventThird EAHN International Meeting - Politecnico di Torino, Turin, Italy
Duration: 19 Jun 201421 Jun 2014


ConferenceThird EAHN International Meeting


  • Porto de Mós
  • Count of Ourém
  • Castel
  • Palace
  • Architecture
  • Comfort

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