Formerly a 16th century monastery built with stones from the ruins of the nearby Faria Castle, this is a magnificent property. The house has great architectural charm and has been beautifully restored and furnished by English owners, that have created here a comfortable family home. Its location at Monte da Franqueira, thickly wooded with pine, eucalyptus and cork oak, lies some five kilometres south-west of the notably beautiful town of Barcelos. The Monte commands a panorama of the Atlantic, beyond the flatter country stretching westward on either side of the River Cavado to its mouth at Esposende; and of the valley of this river, framed by receding mountains, running eastward to Gerês, almost on the border with Spain. Its views thus cover the full width of Portugal at this latitude. Guests are also surprised by its superb gardens. The spring-fed water swimming pool situated behind a graceful 17th century stone fountain is an idyllic spot to relax.
Formerly a 16th century monastery built with stones from a nearby castle, this is a magnificent property. The house has great architectural charm and has been beautifully restored and furnished by the English owners. Located six kms from Barcelos in a quiet woodland estate with vineyards and superb gardens, it is also another great wine-producing house. The spring water swimming pool situated behind a graceful 17th century stone fountain is an idyllic spot to relax.
In Solares de Portugal The art of good living , Edições INAPA, 2007
The Monte da Franqueira, thickly wooded with pine, eucalyptus and cork oak, lies some five kilometres south-west of the notably beautiful town of Barcelos. The Monte commands a panorama of the Atlantic, beyond the flatter country stretching westward on either side of the River Cavado to its mouth at Esposende; and of the valley of this river, framed by receding mountains, running eastward to Gerez, almost on the border with Spain. Its views thus cover the full width of Portugal at this latitude.
From a point about one kilometre outside Barcelos, on the road to the coastal town of Povoa de Varzim (Estrada Nacional 205) a secondary road now runs to a cul-de-sac view-point on top of the Monte, at a height of 298 metres. Here on the rock stands a little eighteenth- -century church, with a Romanesque apse which was originally a chapel. Its altar is formed of half the jasper dining table of the Moorish chieftain Salat ben Salat, brought back as loot from the Portuguese capture of Ceuta on the 21st. August, 1415, by Dom Afonso, 8th. Count of Barcelos and 1st. Duke of Bragança.
On a secondary wooded summit, some two hundred feet lower to the north west, lie the extensive ruins of the Castelo de Faria which until 1373 dominated the valley of the Cavado, and was an occasional Royal residence. The ruins stand on land which is now State property, and which adjoins the Quinta da Franqueira to the south west. They date from the 10th. century,but the site was previously occupied by a Roman Castrum, and before that by a very large prehistoric settlement or Citania. A small area of this, on State property, was excavated some forty years ago, revealing the clearly defined foundations of the bronze-age buildings, including circular houses.
The castle is believed to have been developed as a fortress by Frankish military engineers from Burgundy.
It has been suggested not only that Franqueira derives its name from them, but that the arms of the Faria family, which include five fleurs-de-lys, are a heraldic link with the Royal arms of France dating from this time.
In 1373, near Carapeços, north of Barcelos, a Castilian invading army led by Pedro Rodrgues Sarmento, Adiantado de Galicia, met and defeated a smaller Portuguese force under Dom Henrique Manoel, Count of Seia and an uncle of the King. In this action Nuno Gonçalvez, the Alcai de-Mor of the Castelo de Faria (Governor) was taken prisoner by the Spaniards. He had sortied to support the Count of Seia, leaving his castle lightly garrisoned under the command of his young son Gonçalo Nunes. Having captured him the Spaniards produced the Alcaide in chains under the walls of his great castle anticipating that Gonçalo Nunes would surrender after a parley, in order to save his father's life. But the old Alcaide shouted to his son on the walls a ringing and historic call to patriotism and duty, forbidding him to surrender a castle he held for the King. He was lanced under his son's eyes and a great Spanish assault mounted against the walls. But the boy and his heroic little garrison held it off; and the Spaniards, when they could no longer live off the surrounding country, were obliged to raise the siege and retire. Goncolo Nunes returned the castle he had so gloriously defended to the King, and became a pr:est. The incident is rightly famous in Portuguese history. The castle seems never to have been repaired from the damage it suffered in the siege and the assault.
In the year 1429 Vicente and Caterina Afonso, a well-to-do couple from Oporto, chose religious poverty and isolation and found them by a spring which bubbled out of the mountain (and still does) in a natural amphitheatre lying below the ruins of the Castelo de Faria.
This spring they dedicated to St. John the Baptist; and beside it they built themselves huts, thus founding a cenoby which was the embryo of the subsequent monastery. Their little religious community grew, and its huts round the Fonte de São João increased in numbers as its water gained a widening reputation for healing.
In the year 1505 the Franciscan Order took over the cenoby. The monks continued to live in the huts round the spring, and though these became ruinous, the fame of the healing properties of the spring's water brought them a rising income from pilgrims who visited the Fonte da Vida, as it had become known.
So in 1563 D. Henrique de Sousa, then Abbot of the parent monastery at Rendufe, ordered the construction of the present building, some hundred metres to the north of the Fonte da Vida. The ruined Castelo de Faria, some four hundred metres to the south-west, was too obvious and convenient a stone quarry to be overlooked... And thus it came about that the Convento do Born Jesus do Monte da Franqueira was built between 1563 and 1570 with the historic stones of the Castelo de Faria. The Monastery was enlarged in 1678, and again in 1708.
Eventually it formed a great, rectangular, two-storeyed, granite building, with seven-arched internal cloister ambulatories on four sides of a square patio, in the centre of which was a circular stone fountain. Its chapel, which is the size of a church, lies north and south along its eastern wall. Here were re-buried the bodies of the founders, Vicente the Poor, and Caterina his wife; and a fine Fonte was erected as a memorial to them, above the sprng where they had settled in 1429. This Fonte was restored from total dereliction in 1970.