ENTRY ARCH

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The rusticated, arched entry to the Seminário’s Old House is a monumental High Classical composition, fully developed in detailing. The gates, in iron and bronze, were imported from Bologna and like the rest belong to a practically unheard-of model in Coimbra.

Coimbra, Seminário Maior.

Francesco Tamossi and Giacomo Azzolini, 1748-1765.

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BAROQUE DORIC

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The two side buildings flanking the Seminário were built in the late 1800s, and are almost Palladian in their configuration. Surely someone was looking at the Quattro Libri when detailing the Doric portico; not so much for the windows and balusters, which still refer to the main, older building. The proportions are serene and Classical and note how the imposts at the ground floor arched windows match the ones at the main door.

Easily enough, they were called Casa Nova and Casa Novíssima (the “New House” and the “Newer”) according to the order of construction, and so the central received the moniker Casa Velha, “Old House”.

Coimbra, Seminário Maior.

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BOTANICAL GATE

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The gate to the Seminar grounds was also built in the 19th c., and replicates the Botanical Garden’s right across the street. Note the graceful ironwork in contrast to the heavy, rusticated stone.

Coimbra, Seminário Maior.

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FOUR PYRAMIDS

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Another wonderful and bizarre element in the Seminário is the four-way crossing which splits the base circle into four “lakes”. With no other function than to delight (in fact it was probably made to be seen while you circled around inside your coach) it has an allegorical statue on each of the corners atop a pyramidal base.

The vocabulary is borrowed from the main building, but the realization didn’t happen until much later, in the middle of the 19th c., and already by Portuguese hands. It is entirely fitting in the fantastical style of the complex though, and wonderfully whimsical in its own way.

Coimbra, Seminário Maior.

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SEMINÁRIO MAIOR DE COIMBRA

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This is the final instalment in our Spring 2016 Baroque trilogy. The others are the Palácio do Correio-mor in Loures and the Tapada das Necessidades in Lisbon.

A most fascinating building, the Greater Seminary in Coimbra is just slightly off the main touristy areas and, when we visited at least, closed to the public. It is remarkable for being the work of two Italians, Francesco Tamossi and Giacomo Azzolini, the latter of which designed the most excellent Royal Manege in Lisbon, now famous as the old Coach Museum.

It was built in the middle of the 18th c. and is unlike anything seen in Coimbra from that period. The detailing is High Classical, with Baroque flourishes in the window surrounds, the central pediment with a triumphal arch, the flamboyant towers and those polyhedral urns. The “diamonds” of the urns appear again in the corners of the towers and the center.

In spite of this, not every element is consistent with each other, and the end result seems more like a collection of ideas than a unified design. The building does have great charm and panache however, and holds many surprises inside. It stands as a tribute to an age where both the resources and the will to bring in the best artists and artisans existed. These would have tremendous influence on later generations of Portuguese Architects, and centuries later we can thank them for their gift of beauty.

Coimbra, Seminário Maior.

Francesco Tamossi and Giacomo Azzolini, 1748-1765.

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FLOWER RAIL

Mirrored elements encased in stone around a balcony with a naive, thin, wrought iron rail. Portuguese plain Architecture in vernacular mode.

Ponte de Lima

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