Moorish Revival in Porto

It was Jude, over at Travel Words, who with her talk of patterns encouraged me to revisit the incredible Salão Árabe at the headquarters of Porto’s Commercial Association. The room is full of patterns!Moorish revival

This week Jude asked us to shoot patterns from a different perspective, she suggests looking up or looking down. And to avoid being overwhelmed by the room, you find yourself doing exactly that when you enter the Salão Árabe, the last room on your tour of Palácio da Bolsa.

The style is Moorish and dates back to the 13th/14th century. It was recreated here in the 19th century by Gustavo Adolfo Gonçalves de Sousa. Gustavo was a Porto native (Tripeiros) and had trained as a civil engineer. He worked on numerous building projects in Porto, but this room in the Palácio da Bolsa must have been one of his highlights.  It took nearly 18 years to complete, which may sound a long time but the palace’s intricately carved granite staircase, which he also worked on, took 60 years!

His inspiration for the room was Alhambra, a 14th century Islamic palace in Spain. The palace was built by the Nasrids, who were the last Moorish dynasty to rule the Iberian Peninsula. Their art inspired architecture, influenced by Spanish, Iranian and African cultures, is renowned for its carved plaster walls with lace like patterns, Arabic inscriptions, and the extensive use of muqarnas (Mocárabe). It is an incredibly sumptuous form of architecture.

Porto’s Commercial Association couldn’t resist adding their own touches even in the Arabic inscriptions, which are part of the repeating patterns throughout the room. Apparently those in the small red squares read: “Gloria a Alá”, in the blue rectangles: “Alá keeps Caliph Miriam II”, in homage to Queen D. Maria II  and on the green shields it reads “Allah above all”. oh and just in case you were wondering every that is coloured yellow/gold is gold leaf. No wonder it took 18 years to carve and paint!


Author: BeckyB

It's a good life walking, cooking, photographing, volunteering, reading, blogging, and best of all spending time with family, friends & the cat!

53 thoughts

        1. hello – yes – just taking an overdue blog break.
          Not too burned out, but you know how pauses can help us get our headache on other projects – and also just keep us able t blog for the long haul (which is why your challenges are quarterly – as we have chatted before about this I think)
          anyhow, miss my blog time but also know the value of pausing –
          and with that said – I just finished my square photo – have a shot from on top of the train tracks.

        2. Glad you are okay. And totally agree about pauses, much needed

          So excited though you are back before the end of squares. Hasn’t been the same without you x

        3. Thanks for that warm comment ! Ahhh – extra nice because sometimes feel a little bad taking long breaks but always amazed at how the online world meanders on as folks come and go –

    1. hee hee, know exactly what you mean. Fortunately the tours are whistle stop so that doesn’t tend to happen . . .goodness knows how people cope though with functions in this room!

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