The Convent of Nossa Senhora da Saudação, in Nossa Senhora da Vila (Évora), originated in the congregation of a few women led by Joana Dias Quadrada who, to practice a life of recollection and devotion, came together without initially obeying the rules of any order religious. However, in 1506, they adopted the Rule of life for Dominican nuns, becoming part of the Order of Preachers.
The construction works of the Convent must have started in 1502. The main front of the building, preserves some architectural elements characteristic of the time of foundation. At the entrance of the Portaria-Mor (former main entrance to the Convent) you can also see an armillary sphere, characteristic of Manueline art. Also the so-called “Porta das Freiras” in the Conventual Church is surmounted by an armillary sphere in high relief.
In the sixties of the sixteenth century the dormitory was built. The second half of that century is also the Church, the High Choir and the Low Choir. The Conventual Cloister dates from the reign of King João III. In the last decade of the 16th century, monastic wards were built that connected the main body of the monastery to the town walls. In this space two public roads passed, so it was necessary to open two arches over these streets. One of the streets was located in 1992 when archaeological surveys were carried out. This must correspond to Rua do Mosteiro with the Igreja de S.Tiago mentioned in a 1637 document.
The Conventual Church is an interesting example of classic-baroque architecture. In the 17th century it was enriched by an altarpiece carved by the influence of the royal school of Valladolid and covered with polychrome tiles of various patterns, constituting a good example of how it was possible to create, with poor regional materials, a deeply baroque environment.
The roof of the Church, in the vault of a cradle, is subdivided into boxes with a geometric structure.
Also part of the Church’s body are the High Choir, covered in tiles in 17th century green and white tiles and the Low Choir. This one presents the walls covered by tiles also in green and white but of a smaller pattern than that of the Alto Choir. The Low Choir stands out for the fresco paintings that cover its vault, attributed, by some authors, to José de Escobar.
The Convent, belonging to the Dominican Order, was always inhabited by a large number of religious. In the 18th century it was inhabited by 65 nuns. With the extinction of the convents in 1834, and the death of the last prioress, in 1874, the building was occupied by the State and, in 1876, the Asylum for Disadvantaged Children was installed there, which occupied the building until the 1960s.
The Convent has been, in recent years, the target of specific works. The partial recovery of its coverings, in the second half of the 90s of the last century, by D.G.E.M.N., prevented the collapse of this valuable monumental ensemble. In 1998, the City Council carried out works to restore carpentry.
In the year 2000, O Espaço do Tempo was installed in the Convento da Saudação, sharing facilities with the Archeology Service of the Municipality of Montemor.
Over the years, always in an effort to rehabilitate the installations, O Espaço do Tempo has occupied seven large rehearsal spaces, fifteen four, large social areas and a beautiful cloister, where, over the course of two decades, some of the most emblematic creators have crossed Portuguese and international.
On October 14, 2018, the collapse of the vault of one of the most emblematic rehearsal rooms, revealed the critical state of this heritage. After almost 20 years, the Ministry of Culture, in conjunction with the Montemor-o-Novo Municipality, finally embraced the design of the rehabilitation of this building.
Behind us are twenty years of tireless struggles by O Espaço do Tempo for the rehabilitation of Convento da Saudação.