Ana Valentina Angelo

Santa Maria da Seiça Monastery

Under the Skies of Figueira XV

Hello beautiful Figueira,

New life in Portugal, the effects of the pandemic are showing signs of receding but the struggle continues. We have a lot to thank to the health professionals for their efforts during all these months and to the administrators who conducted the right and timely measures that minimized the potential for the virus to spread among the Figueirenses. So … celebrate life!

Portugal Historical Heritage

There is no lack of publications on “abandoned ruins” of historical heritage in Portugal¹, among them precious works both regarding the beauty of styles and the commitment to the historical moment they represent. I start my research and find the Monastery of Seiça² in Paião, one of the parishes of Figueira da Foz.

Let´s go, Figueira, right there ..... towards Paião.

I leave Praia da Claridade towards the south, cross the bridge, paying attention to the choreography of the Mondego waters playing with the Atlantic streams and in fifteen minutes I am in the parish of Paião, one of your beautiful extentions, Figueira.

Paião, this Figueira neighborhood, is famous for its traditional “Feiras de ano”³ that take place every August, in Ribeira de Seiça, which gather hundreds of people around the Monastery of Santa Maria de Seiça, to “celebrate customs and maintain traditions” with typical dishes, music, legends and products ”

The Monastery of Santa Maria de Seiça

The heritage is spectacular. It impresses its community and its visitors, but time was merciless and the neglect of “those with rights” deprived lovers of History and Art from enjoying the work. It is an almost millennial building that, presumably, was built in 1162 by Dom Afonso Henriques, underwent restoration / reconstruction (?) In 1672, and was destined to Benedictine monks and, later to the Order of Cister, historical figures of prominence.

As for the damage to property, there is talk of “abandonment”. Whose abandonment would this be? As it turns out, never from the Paionense people, who actively represent themselves in matters of preservation and restoration of the monument; proof of that is that the SMS – Association of Friends of the Santa Maria de Seiça Convent was created to defend the building; two books were written about the history of the Monastery and Chapel: “Illustrated History of Santa Maria de Ceiça” by Diana Carriço Arend ”and“ The Monastery of Seiça and the rice husking factory ”by Maria Isabel Sousa.4

The fairs and folk celebrations around the Monastery, the involvement with the religious activities in the Chapel, account of the constant presence of the paionenses in the cause of the protection and preservation of the monument. Not to mention the efforts of the Figueira da Foz press.

Monastery of Santa Maria de Seiça, National Monument

On April 11, 2019, the Diário de Notícias in Figueira da Foz announces that, on the date, the Diário da República states that “the Monastery of Santa Maria de Seiça, in Ribeira de Seiça – Paião, Figueira da Foz,” will be reclassified as a National Monument, benefiting from expansion works. ”5 So, we wait…

Column: Under the Skies of Figueira
Author: Ana Valentina Ângelo