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St. Anne’s Chapel in Vila Real

St. Anne’s Chapel, as well as the collegiate church established in it, was founded in the 18th century, in Vila Real, as determined by Dr. Jerónimo Botelho Correia Guedes do Amaral in his will made ​​in Paraíba do Norte (Brazil), on December 10, 1738.

About this chapel, we not know the date of its construction, who was the author of the project or who carried it out. What we do know is that on August 25, 1743, a document was made ​​in Vila Real ordering the construction of St. Anne’s Collegiate Chapel to fulfil the wishes expressed in Jerónimo do Amaral’s will, in which he "ordered the construction of a chapel with all the conveniences to establish a collegiate in it". For this purpose, he left the amount of 18 000 cruzados.

St. Anne’s Chapel, which today completes the main façade of the Misericórdia’s headquarters, presents a façade with an accentuated verticality, a characteristic that fits in the architectural typology developed in Vila Real and its surroundings in mid-eighteenth century, and documented in three other magnificent examples: St. Paul’s Church (1753/54-1756), St. Anthony’s Chapel (1731), and Our Lady of Joy’s Chapel (1750s). The Chapel’s façade consists of two areas: the body of the chapel and its capstone, which is formed by a small attic and a pediment; and on the right side, the bell tower.

In the body of the chapel (flanked by corner pilasters), we find six openings: a portal and five windows, two flanking the top of the portal and the remaining three (the one in the centre larger than the side ones) under the entablature, with which the central window is interconnected.

In this façade we find a permanence of the formal language and decoration of the Baroque in the transition from the first to the second half of the 18th century. The search for a surprise effect, caused by the variety of openings, the sharp vertical axis, constituted by the portal / main window / coat of arms / entablatures keys / cross, and the plant decoration, they all contribute to the connection with the Baroque architecture seen in Vila Real and in Northern Portugal, which was then in its transition to a late Baroque / Rococo. If this is the first feeling we get when observing the façade, there is something that makes us see in it something different from their above-mentioned counterparts: a smaller volume in the structural and decorative elements; a sensation of a certain simplicity; a more prominent presence of the empty spaces; a lack of sculpture and other decorative elements, common in the Baroque.

The interior is defined by two quadrangular bodies (chancel with slightly concave elevations, and entrance / choir), and a central octagonal body. The latter consists of the openings of the entrance / choir and the chancel; by two concave elevations, preceded by round arches; and by four panels framed by pilasters, with openings for the pulpits and galleries. This plant, though in a different time and structural dimension, resembles the plan for the church of St. Philip Neri in Turin, designed by Michelangelo Garove (1648-1713), where a central octagon is preceded and followed by two square structures.

The choir of St. Anne’s Chapel is based on an arch with a coffered intrados. On each wall of the entrance and the chancel there are two symmetrical doors: in the first case, one accessing a small baptistery and the other the choir and the bell tower; in the second case, one for the passage to the sacristy, and the other to reach the former residence of the Morgados of Vila Cova. Several openings allow light to enter within, enriched by the quality of the architectural design, the carving of the altars, the pulpits and the tribunes, and by a central dome-like cover.

In the chapel there are three retables: the main retable with an imposing Rococo structure and two lateral retables with a classic taste, considering its structure, decoration and polychromy. In the cross arch there is a valance of neoclassical style, which belonged to St. Jerome’s chapel at the former Hospital.

In the chancel, at the Gospel side, in an arcosolium (topped by an ogee arch), lie the remains of Jerónimo do Amaral, which came from Paraíba do Norte, as was his will.