Portugal Architecture

Portugal Architecture

On 1 November 1755 Lisbon was destroyed by an earthquake followed by a terrible fire. Ten thousand dead, out of the 250,000 residents of the city, and incalculable damage: to remedy it, the future Marquis of Pombal, minister, soon with full powers, of King Joseph I immediately set to work. In an “enlightened despotism” empirically adapted to the Portugal, he decided to have a completely new city built, which would be the scene of his structural reforms. The social and aesthetic thought of the Enlightenment in the field of urbanism found full expression in the rigorously geometric plan of the new city, a vast chessboard of streets and squares. The work program, as well as the criteria followed to create them and the standardized construction techniques, define the framework of a an enterprise that has no equivalent at that time and which constitutes one of the most important achievements of the Portuguese genius in the artistic and social field. Work of three military engineers (M. da Maia, E. dos Santos and the Hungarian C. Mardel), the regularity of the urban structure is also given by the serial design of the functional facades. The churches are the only buildings that break the utilitarian rule, animating with their baroque lines a stylistic discourse, called “pombalino”, which, starting from the mannerism of F. Terzi, tends to neoclassicism and finds its noblest expression in the magnificent Piazza del Commercio, open to the Tagus, with a triumphal arch and the king’s equestrian monument.

According to usprivateschoolsfinder, the urban reforms of Pombal also reached Oporto (as well as the extreme south of the country: Vila Real de Sant’Antonio), reconciling here with the neo-Palladian taste, typical of the British colonies at the time, hence the definition of “architecture of the portwine”. After the fall of the Marquis of Pombal (1777), neoclassicism definitively imposed itself in Lisbon thanks to a new generation of architects, trained in Rome, which opposed the aesthetic tastes of an ancien régimecourt, whose latest important achievements are the completion of the castle of Queluz (begun in 1748; architect M. Vicente) and the construction in Estrela (Lisbon) of the last of the Western Baroque basilicas (1779-89, architects M. Vicente and R. Manuel).

The new trends were expressed above all by the young J. Costa e Silva who built, on behalf of the bourgeois of the capital, the new Opera House of S. Carlos (1792-93) and was entrusted with the project for the Palazzo del Tesoro; he later managed, together with the Genoese FS Fabbri, to impose, against a baroque project, his plans for the royal palace of Ajuda (begun in 1802), inspired by the Royal Palace of Caserta and remained unfinished. In the same years, neoclassicism was also spreading in Oporto and in the north of the country, thanks to CFC Amarante.

The invasions of the Napoleonic armies and the subsequent period of civil wars completely paralyzed the development of Portuguese architecture in the first half of the 19th century. An exception is the Dona Maria II theater (strictly neoclassical work by the Italian F. Lodi, 1843-46) and the royal castle of Pena (Sintra), built in a rather bizarre romantic style by the prince-consort Ferdinand of Coburg with the help of the German engineer W. von Eschwege (1839-49). After 1850 Lisbon, liberal and capitalist, underwent a certain development (remember the private palaces built by the Sienese G. Cinnatti, also author of the decoration of the Opera di S. Carlos), but its mediocre architecture, with facades often covered with azulejos(whose reflections, however, give a certain liveliness to the urban landscape), will only be ennobled by the “Manueline” and “neo-Romanesque” revivals, the latter starting from the end of the century. The most prominent architect was then M. Ventura Terra who, in the first quarter of the 20th century, opposed his French taste to the nationalist traditionalism of R. Lino.

Towards the end of the 1920s, “modernism” appeared in the projects of some young Lisbon architects: examples of this are the Capitolio cinema (C. da Silva, 1926-31), the Higher Technical Institute (P. Monteiro, 1927), the Institute of Oncology (C. Ramos, 1927-33), the Eden cinema (C. Branco, 1930-37). This series of works was completed with the construction of the Palazzo della Moneta (J. Segurado, 1984-36) and the church of Our Lady of Fatima (Pardal Monteiro, 1934-38). The 1940s marked a traditionalist involution, against which, starting from 1948, two generations of architects reacted very differently, compared to the previous ones, to aesthetic and social values.

For the period from the 1950s to the present day, K. do Amaral and V. de Lima, F. Tavora and Teotónio-Pereira, Siza-Vieira and T. Taveira should be mentioned, and some realizations should be mentioned: Gulbenkian Foundation (P. Cid and R. Atouguia, 1961-69), church of the Sacred Heart in Lisbon (Teotónio-Pereira, 1962-70), Hotel Balaia in Albufeira (T. Taveira, 1970).

Portugal Architecture

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