Domus Municipalis

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Domus Municipalis (Antigos Paços Municipais de Bragança)
Municipal House, Former-Municipal Hall of Bragança
Municipal hall (Paços Municipais)
Domus Municipalis 4.jpg
The stonework of the Domus Municipalis, located along one of the walls of the Castle of Bragança
Name origin: domus municipalis Latin for the municipal house
Nickname: O Domus
Country  Portugal
Region Norte
Subregion Alto Trás-os-Montes
District Bragança
Municipality Bragança
Location Santa Maria
 - elevation 649 m (2,129 ft)
 - coordinates 41°48′12.81″N 6°44′55.96″W / 41.8035583°N 6.7488778°W / 41.8035583; -6.7488778Coordinates: 41°48′12.81″N 6°44′55.96″W / 41.8035583°N 6.7488778°W / 41.8035583; -6.7488778
Architects unknown
Style Romanesque
Materials Granite, Mortar, Wood
Origin fl. 1250
 - Remodelled 1503
 - IPPAR Designation 23 June 1910
 - Restoration 1936
 - Restoration 1959
Owner Portuguese Republic
For public Public
Easiest access Located in the Castle of Braganza, alongside the Church of Santa Maria
Management Instituto Gestão do Patrimonio Arquitectónico e Arqueológico
Classification National Monument
Wikimedia Commons: Domus Municipalis, Bragança
Website: official%20site

The Domus Municipalis (Latin: municipal house) is a Romanesque building in the northeastern municipality of Bragança in Portugal. The exact function of this building, even after research completed in the 20th century, is still largely unknown: it could have served as cistern, but there are doubts if this was its primary function.


The inferior corner of the Domus structure

A singular (enigmatic) building of Romanesque civic architecture, it is an eloquent extension of the medieval prison tower that it juxtaposes.[1] Its construction was, most likely, in the first half of the 13th century, coinciding with the foundation of the cistern.[1][2]

In 1501, in the published writings of the Abbot of Baçal, the author referred to the local record of Martim Anes, who spoke of the construction of the Domus during his lifetime.[2] In this account, Martin Anes stated that it was used as a meeting place for the "good men" of the municipality. By 1503, the Domus was remodelled to partition the hall into two divisions to formalize its use as municipal hall.[2]

Its designation, Domus Municipalis, actually dates back to the 19th century.[1][2]

Although the building was classified by the Instituto Português do Património Arquitectónico (IPPAR) as a National Monument in 1910, by 1912, the building was in a state of degradation, without appropriate roof and used by squatters and the poor as shelter.[2] Restoration of the building was completed in 1936 by the Direcção-Geral dos Edifícios e Monumentos Nacionais (English: General-Directorate for Buildings and National Monuments), or DGEMN (which evolved to become the Instituto de Gestão do Património Arquitectónico e Arqueológico (IGESPAR)).[2] Similar restorations were undertaken in 1959 by the Serviços dos Monumentos Nacionais (English: National Monument Services), before being taken over on 1 June 1992 by the IPPAR by decree 106F/92.[2]


Interior dimension of the dual-purpose "municipal hall" (cistern drains in the centre )

Located in the Terreiro do Castelo alongside the Church of Santa Maria, the structure is based on a multi-level irregular pentagon, constructed of rounded granite blocks and held together by mortar, while covered by wooden roof tiles.[2]

The Domus is constituted by two distinct spaces: the primitive cistern (documented after 1446), in order to store spring water; and a superior space that served as a gathering place for meetings of the "good men" of the community.[1] It was in the first years of the 16th century that the municipalization of Bragança, from documents dated 1503.[1]

In many of the documents, the building is referred to as the Sala da Água (English: Hall of Water).[2]

One of the shields has been identified to have been sculpted during the modern era.[2] Carlos Alberto Ferreira de Almeida noted that the other medallions, the diamond-shaped openings and the organization of windows, date the structure the beginning of the 14th century, or end of the 13th century.[2] Near one of the entrances is a bronze plaque used by the archaeologist Gomez Moreno to indicate his investigations in the structure.[2]



  1. ^ a b c d e Câmara Municipal, ed. (2009). "Domus Municipalis" (in Portuguese). Bragança, Portugal: Câmara Municipal de Bragança. Archived from the original on 4 July 2011. Retrieved 28 June 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Paulo Amaral, ed. (1996). "Paços Municipais de Bragança (antigos)/Domus Municipalis" (in Portuguese). SIPA Sistema de Informação para o Património Arquitectónico. Retrieved 28 June 2011.


  • DGEMN, ed. (1936), "Domus Municipalis" de Bragança, Boletim nº 4 (in Portuguese), Lisbon, Portugal: Direcção-Geral dos Edifícios e Monumentos Nacionais
  • Dionísio, Santana (ed.), Guia de Portugal (in Portuguese) (5 ed.), Lisbon, Portugal, pp. 949–951
  • Ministério das Obras Públicas, ed. (1953), Relatório da Actividade do Ministério no ano de 1952 (in Portuguese), Lisbon, Portugal
  • Ministério das Obras Públicas, ed. (1960), Relatório da Actividade do Ministério nos Anos de 1959 (in Portuguese), 1, Lisbon, Portugal
  • Almeida, José António Ferreira de (1976), Tesouros Artísticos de Portugal (in Portuguese), Lisbon, Portugal, pp. 153–154
  • Almeida, Carlos Alberto Ferreira de (1986), "O românico", História da Arte em Portugal (in Portuguese), 3, Lisbon, Portugal, p. 141
  • Gonçalves, Carla A. (1 June 2006), O lugar dos homens bons, in Mensageiro de Bragança (in Portuguese)
  • Bento, Sandra (16 December 2006), "Domus Municipalis vai ser recuperada", Diário de Notícias (in Portuguese) |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  • IGESPAR, ed. (2011). "Antigos Paços Municipais de Bragança" (in Portuguese). Lisbon, Portugal. Archived from the original on 30 September 2012. Retrieved 28 June 2011.

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