Manueline Architecture - Portugal

Manueline is the style that marks the Portuguese artistic and architectural shift away from the late Gothic during the reign of King Manuel I (1469-1521).

Although a period of great controversy for art historians, Manueline architecture is a vivid ornamental reflection in Portuguese architecture from the days of the great sea expeditions and meetings with new cultures in faraway lands.

In fact, it is Portuguese architecture in its purest and most unique form, ranging from religious architecture, of which the best example is the grand Jerónimos Monastery (indicated on the map below) in Lisbon, to military monuments evident in the Tower of Belém with its civil ornamentation.

Furthermore, the Manueline style of decoration (known as Manuelino in Portugal) is well portrayed in the mysterious astrological visions of the famous window of the Convent of Christ in Tomar, central Portugal, a bastion of the Templars in days gone by, as well as in the doorway of Ponta Delgada Cathedral on São Miguel island in the Azores.

The numerous forms related to the sea and intrepid voyages across the oceans to other continents, mixing elements of Christianity with shells, ropes or fantastic and strange aquatic shapes.

Heraldic or religious symbolism, as seen in the armillary spheres, are other features of this style where there is undoubtedly an ornamental glorification that separates itself from the gothic and in some ways avoids the classicism of the Renaissance.

There are examples of this style in many monuments throughout the country, as well as the Atlantic islands of Madeira and the Azores, while it is sometimes combined in the famous tile panels, as can be seen at the National Palace in Sintra.

Without touching the classic structures of the period, this style aims to ennoble them by giving a new look. That is also probably why Portuguese painting is done in a way so as to transmit an emotion.