Repurposing prehistoric buildings: the portuguese dolmen-chapels
The house of one tile
Human beings have been repurposing buildings since the beginning of civilization for a lot of reasons as the one of being pratical to convert existing structures into new ones in order not to have so much construction work.
All around the world we can find buildings created from grottos and rocks and large boulders. In Portugal you can also find some good examples like in Monsanto, a village built upon in a fusion of nature and its landforms, around the 16th Century. This fusion can be seen in the uses of caves and rocks being converted into construction parts. One of the houses is “the house with only one tile.” because a single slab of rock covers entirely the house.
Architectural Design Stone House in Portugal
Casa do Penedo, Modern Stone House in Portugal
Casa do Penedo, also known as Stone Castle or a Stone House, is an architectural monument located between Celorico de Basto and Fafe, in northern Portugal. Casa do Penedo is translated in English as House of the Rock. It received its name because it was built from four large boulders that serve as the foundation, walls and ceiling of the house.
Its construction began in 1972 and lasted about two years until its completion in 1974. The residence was initially used by the owners as a holiday destination. Today, Casa de Penedo is a small museum of relics and photographs from Penedo’s history.
The building is located near a wind electricity farm, although there is no electricity inside the house itself. Due to its unusual design and integration into the surrounding nature, the building has become a growing tourist attraction.
Dolmen To Chapel
The Christianised Portuguese Dolmens
The word 'Dol-men' originates from two Breton words meaning 'Stone - table'. Megalithic monument refers to monumental architecture built between about 6,000 and 4,000 years ago in Europe, during the Neolithic and Bronze ages. Usually build as tombs, they had multiple functions as they were used by different cultural societies and frequently added to or simply modified for reuse by subsequent generations.
Conquerors and evangelizers understood the efficiency and the power of reusing temples and other buildings that had already been infused with meaning.
For instance, in the Roman Catholic Church, in a letter of 601 AD (recorded by the venerable Bede in his History of the English Church and People), Pope Gregory the Great explains:
…we have been giving careful thought to the affairs of the English, and have come to the conclusion that the temples of the idols among that people should on no account be destroyed. The idols are to be destroyed, but the temples themselves are to be aspersed with holy water, altars to be set up in them, and relics deposited there.
That's why it's not difficult to understand that megalithic monuments could be easily converted into religious buildings as prove these dolmen-chapels around Portugal, a country well known for it's religious and megalithic history.
Photos, Location and Links
Dolmen Sao Dinis, Pavia
It was probably erected between the 4th and 3rd millennium B.C., and constitutes nowadays one of the most important megalithic monuments in Portuguese territory. It is formed of granite stones and measures around 4,30 meters in diameter and 3,30 meters high.
The Anta was transformed into a Chapel during the 17th century
Chapel of São Brissos
About 350 years ago this Neolithic dolmen was converted into a small Catholic Chapel known as Chapel of São Brissos Cromlech. Dolmens, sacred monuments made of standing stones capped with a top stone, appear throughout Western Europe, but rarely, if ever, have they been converted to new use in such a way.
The Anta-Capela of Alcobertas
The Anta-Capela of Alcobertas is a christianized dolmen turned into a chapel. This converted megalithic monument can be found inside the Igreja de Santa Maria Madalena(Church of Saint Mary Magdalene) or Igreja Paroquial, located in Alcobertas, Rio Maior, in the Santarém district. The access is made from inside the church.
Dolmen Chapel of the Lord of the mountain, Penedono
The Dolmen-Chapel of Nossa Senhora do Monte, was declared a National Monument on December 1961. The dolmen has a polygonal chamber of seven or nine mainstays and a long corridor and was used, in the Midle Ages to build a chapel.
It is one of the rare cases of Christianized dolmens in Portugal.
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