…, now D. Nuno da Cunha, the bishop who heads the Inquisition makes his entrance accompanied by na elderly Franciscan friar. (…) Dom João V and the Inquisitor withdraw to one side, and the latter explains, The friar who stands before you is Friar Antony of St Joseph (…) and he replied (…) that if Your Majesty promises to build a convent in the town of Mafra, God will Grant your and heir, and after delivering this message, Dom Nuno fell silent and bade friar approach. The King inquired, Is what His Eminence the bishop has just told me true, that if I promise to build a convent in Mafra I shall have heirs to succeed me and the friar replied, It is true, Your Majesty, but only if the convent is entrusted to the Franciscan Order (…).
The Municipal Museum of Loures is housed in the former Franciscan Convent Arrábido do Espírito Santo da Mealhada. Its mission is the study, safeguard and dissemination of local history and heritage. The old convent, which was built in 1574 under the sponsorship of Luís de Castro do Rio, received the monks of the Franciscan Observance of the Portuguese Province of Arrábida. This convent was made up of the chapel, convent building and fence. In the old sacristy you can visit the Interpretation Center for the Baltasar and Blimunda Route.
This is a single nave chapel, with a covered vault and walls in 18th century black and white tiling. On the side of the Gospel lies the lectern. Inside, there are two side altars painted in golden carvings, inscribed in perfect back arches. In the high choir there is a fixed wooden chair with a backrest. The chancel bears a central medallion from the late 18th century on the vault, with the figure of the dove, symbol of the Holy Spirit (Holy Spirit Chapel). The sidewalls are lined with blue monochrome tiles from circa 1750, storytelling biblical passages. The altarpiece, in gilded carving, houses a painting on canvas with a thematic representation of the Descent of Holy Spirit to Earth on the day of the feast of the Pentecost. This is a painting by Bento Coelho da Silveira, and which today can be found in the exhibition hall of the Municipal Museum of Loures. The existence of three crypts should also be highlighted.
The old sacristy house is one of the two centres of interpretation for the Baltasar and Blimunda Route. You can visit the other at the José Saramago Municipal Library in Loures. At this centre you will interactively discover the history of the convent and of this region back in the 18th century, which were also elements in the narrative of Baltasar and Blimunda. The route in Loures, which includes several points of cultural and touristic interest, is supported by two axes of communication used at the time: the Lisbon-Mafra Royal Road and the river paths of the Tagus and Trancão Rivers through which materials (such as bells and sculptural structures) and people circulated and were transported. The Baltasar and Blimunda Route is an original literary itinerary that embraces the wonderful characters of Blimunda and Baltasar, the utopian dream of being able to fly belonging to Bartolomeu of Gusmão and, the devotion to the music of Domenico Scarlatti, all of which bring this historical past to present life.
The Boa Vista Viewpoint is inserted in the old convent fence. The fence, which guaranteed the subsistence of the convent’s religious members, integrated a more wooded area at its highest point, while in the surroundings of the building, vegetable and fruit production were developed at different levels. In the fence, the fountains, the hermitages and viewpoints were places of meditation and prayer. We highlight the Boa Vista Viewpoint as a point of excellence for observing the Loures lowlands.
In the 18th century the lowlands were a flooded area subject to the influence of the tides. Saltpans were exploited, and the Marnotas place was one of the main production sites. The navigability of the lowlands brought numerous boats to these stopovers, in a flow that was difficult to imagine. The entire waterfront contributed with ports to this dynamic. In addition to this river dynamic was the Royal Road, an important axis of communication. King João V passed through these stopovers, either in boats or in coaches, on his way to the Royal Construction of Mafra.
The José Saramago Municipal Library located in the city of Loures, is house to one of the Interpretation Centres for the Baltasar and Blimunda Route. Here you will embark on an imaginary and magical flight in the company of Blimunda, Baltasar and Bartolomeu and accompanied by the sound of Domenico Scarlatti’s music, all central characters in the book Baltasar and Blimunda. Discover some of the places that were related to José Saramago’s narrative and the construction of Mafra’s Royal Building. Learn a little more about King João V’s visit to Santo Antão to Tojal, namely to attend the ceremonies of the Blessing of the Bells that were destined for the basilica of Mafra and took place in 1730. “By flying the machine, the whole sky will be music.”