House of Cordovil (Casa Cordovil)
End of 15th–beginning of 16th century
A civil building in continuous use, it gradually lost its character through the successive changes made to it to serve different functions. It is probably a mid-15th century building. Only a few years ago a 'loggia' with a heavy Gothic arcade was rediscovered on the ground floor of the main façade, which is indicative of the social and economic importance of the owner. It is currently privately owned and used for administrative offices.
The so-called Casa Cordovil is a trapezoid-shaped building of two storeys on the south side of the Largo da Porta de Moura, one of the town's main squares, with its main façade facing the square and two others giving onto radial streets.
The west side of the main façade is a high wall topped by merlons bevelled in the upper part of the front face in a style very common in Évora in the Manueline period. This wall protects from view the courtyard of the house from which the staircase rises to a landing, providing access to the state (main) floor of the building. On this landing, which has a balcony, there is an elegant structure with a double function: on the one hand, utilitarian, in that it protects the entrance of the state floor of the building from sun and rain; on the other, ceremonial, as a belvedere overlooking the square. This veranda has a tall architrave similar to a retable (shelf behind an altar) without ornamentation above the access staircase. On the main façade and on the inside face there are, framed by masonry alfizes (decorative rectangular surrounds) with granite flame ornaments in the corners, ajimezes (arched double windows divided in the middle by a column) supported on elegant marble columns with geometric bases, slender shafts and turban-shaped capitals. The semi-circular horseshoe arches, made of granite, are decorated on the intrados with interlace carvings similar to the ones usually made of brick which were common in Évora and its area of influence. Running around the double arch, a masonry flute goes up on the vertical line of the central column simulating an ogee arch which is topped by a crocket (ornament) which marks the middle of the alfiz. The tympanum of this arch has a circle in relief with cruciform ornamentation. The façades of the veranda are topped by merlons similar to those which crown the wall of the courtyard. The single vault is of ogives (diagonal ribs). The group of buildings has a conical dome on top completed by a spheroid motif.
Both from the structural and ornamental features – use of the alfiz; horseshoe arches with interlace decorated intrados; fine and elegant central columns; turban-shaped capitals – and from the combined use of different materials – bricks, granite, marble in the most delicate elements – this veranda is almost a paradigm for the Mudéjar style which had Évora at its epicentre at the end of the 15th and beginning of the 16th century.
The most visible part of this small palace, located beside Porta de Moura, is an elegant, dual-purpose structure, being both practical by protecting the entrance to the main storey of the building from the sun and rain, and decorative with its panorama of the square.
Its structural and ornamental solutions (alfiz panels, horseshoe arches with interlacing designs on the intrados, elegant slender mullions and turban-shaped capitals) and the combinations of different materials (brick, granite and marble) in the most delicate areas make this veranda the paradigm of Mudéjar style in Évora.
From the influence it shows of the great royal work by St Francisco de Évora, from the pioneering use of the exterior monumental granite staircase, from its stylistic and typological similarities with other buildings, although without documentary support, the veranda can be dated with reasonable certainty to the final years of the 15th or early years of the 16th century, in the reign of Dom Manuel I (1495–1521).
Espanca, T., Inventário Artístico de Portugal: Distrito de Évora, Vol. VII, Lisbon, 1966.
Pereira, G., “A Varanda da Casa Cordovil”, in Estudos Diversos, ed. J. Rosa, Coimbra, 1934, pp.165–74.
Pérez-Embid, F., El Mudejarismo en la Arquitectura Portuguesa de la época Manuelina, Seville, 1944.
Vieira da Silva, J., Paços Medievais Portugueses, Lisbon, 1995.
Vieira da Silva, J., O Tardo-Gótico em Portugal: a Arquitectura no Alentejo, Lisbon, 1989.
Manuel J. C. Branco "House of Cordovil (Casa Cordovil)" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020. 2020. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=monument;ISL;pt;Mon01;18;en
Prepared by: Manuel J. C. BrancoManuel J. C. Branco
Manuel J. C. Branco, mestre em História da Arte pela Universidade de Lisboa, foi responsável pelo Centro Histórico de Évora (1994-97) e director da revista de cultura A Cidade de Évora (1994-2001). É autor de entradas do Inventário de Monumentos Nacionais da Direcção-Geral de Edifícios e Monumentos Nacionais (Portugal) e de numerosos estudos: "A Fundação da Igreja do Bom Jesus de Valverde e o tríptico de Gregório Lopes", in A Cidade de Évora, n.º 71-76; "Évora, Centro Histórico Patrimonio de la Humanidad" in La ciutat històrica dins la ciutat (Girona, Universitat de Girona, 1997); "Renascimento, Maneirismo e Estilo Chão em Évora", in Do Mundo Antigo aos Novos Mundos (Lisboa, C.N.C.D.P., 1998); "Igreja e convento de S. Francisco de Évora - Evolução do sítio do século XIII ao século XIX", in Revista Monumentos, n.º 17 (Lisboa, DGEMN, 2002).
Translation by: Gilla Evans
Translation copyedited by: Monica Allen
MWNF Working Number: PT X
Islamic Dynasties / Period
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