The Convent of Santa Maria de Aguiar is located 3 km from Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo, the road that links the town and seat of the county to Almofala parish in the district of Guarda.
The Church of the Convent is a bona fide example of primitive Cistercian architecture: austerity, robustness and few ornamental elements.
Built at a time when the fights were frequent in the region between Christians and Moors and later between Leoneans and Portuguese, the monastery and the attached outbuildings were built so as to form an enclosure, not allowing entry to outsiders. The façade of the Convento de Aguiar has the characteristics of early romantic.
Certificate number: BHR 006/2019 RTI
Among the various architectural elements, stands a simple and elegant door Chapter Hall, surmounted by three archivolts of broken bow, landing in abacuses without any kinds of adornments, supported by enastrados small columns on the wall and topped by capitals decorated with plant motifs.
The chapterhouse was the most important dependency of the monastery, after the church. Being a place of counsel and deliberation, here daily gathered the religious community under the chairmanship of Abbot.
Just outside the Chapter Room opened up a passage to the cloister and the staircase leading to the bedroom, located on the first floor. The cloister was to be quite high and robust, being made up of three rows of stones arranged above the upper closures of the arches. In front of the Chapter Room still see the cloister of the base formed by a stone wall about a meter high and a staircase with five steps.
In the middle of the courtyard amounted elegant fountain which, fortunately, was rebuilt in 1994.
It is known that the Convent of Santa Maria de Aguiar, located in Castelo Rodrigo area subject to frequent Muslim raids, must its foundation to the plan initiated by Lion kings in order to strengthen and populate the region. Incidentally, Rodrigo Castelo region acquired great importance in geo plan - strategic from the year 1143, when D. Afonso Henriques and Alfonso VII signed the Treaty of Zamora, where Portugal was recognized as an independent kingdom.
Initially, the Aguiar Convent, belonged to Rodrigo City of Bishopric, being affiliated to Moreruela Monastery, Zamora. The primitive religious who settled in Aguiar tower belonged to the Order of St. Benedict, being dependent on the diocese of Ciudad Rodrigo. Peter and Sancho were the first Cistercian monks of the Order of St. Bernard, which, by the year 1143, settled in the area, building a monastery near the river Esla in the Zamora municipality. These Monks were sent by S. Bernardo request Afonso VII. Gradually his influence was felt with the formation of new religious communities in Zamora, Leon, Valladolid, Salamanca and Santa Maria de Aguiar.
The Convent of Santa Maria de Aguiar was declared a National Monument by Decree No. 21996 of 17 December 1932. In 1937 began the church's restoration, in charge of the National Monuments General Direction. It is now probably the most pure and well preserved churches of existing Cistercian Order in Portugal and one of the copies across Europe, fully restored to its original moth, which today is unfolding just as spurious element, a magnificent century altarpiece . XVI, true masterpiece of Portuguese Baroque, whose inside inclusion of those venerable walls is justified but for its uniqueness and artistic value.
Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo