Bragança Office

The Bragança office of the Rei Afonso Henriques Foundation, located in the heart of the historic city of Bragança, is situated in a building restored by the Municipal Chamber, which has served noble purposes over the years.

The building's first literary reference dates back to the first half of the 14th century when it was known as the Church of San Juan Bautista, one of the parishes of Bragança. As emphasized by Luís Alexandre Rodrígues, "The building, of modest size, features a bell tower and an atrium. Inside, it consists of a single nave. Adjacent to the arch of the Main Chapel, there were altars dedicated to Santa Catarina and San Sebastián. In the body of the Church, there were two additional chapels: on the Gospel side was the Chapel of Our Lady of Consolation, while on the Epistle side was the Chapel of the Holy Name of Jesus."


Initially commissioned by María Pires de Morais, a native of Bragança and a descendant of a noble family, it would later become the property of João Salgado de Vasconcelos, Domingo Lopes Nogueira, abbot of Mofreita, and Bernardo Batista de Fonseca y Sousa, a member of the Order of Christ, a noble of the Royal Household, and superintendent of the Bragança Stud Farms.


As the Abbot de Baçal mentions, "one of the obligations of the Abbots of San Juan was to conduct the Holy Week services with the assistance of six presbyters." The relocation of the Bishopric from the city of Miranda do Douro to Bragança, which led to a new religious organization in the city, resulted in the church being transferred from the San Juan Bautista parish to the Cathedral See in January 1768. This decision led to the closure of the Church and its subsequent abandonment.


On November 12, 1902, the small chapel was sold by Bernardo Sepúlveda to the Bank of Portugal for 500.00 reales to establish its headquarters there. The adjacent land to the chapel, enclosed by a wall, was later acquired from the Municipal Chamber for the price of 267,000 reales. The building was adapted by Bernardino de Sousa and the architect Adães Bermudes in 1903-1904, giving it a new layout. The Bank remained at this location for nearly 20 years before moving to Rua 1º de Diciembre and subsequently to the Solar de los Veiga Cabral (owned by the noble Sá Vargas), which has since been restored and now serves as the Graça Morais Contemporary Art Center.

Acquired by the Municipality of Bragança from António Manuel Pires Meireles and Maria Irene da Mota Pires in a public deed dated April 14, 1989, the building was restored to house the Local Technical Office (G.T.L.) with responsibilities in urban planning, the municipal archaeology office, and the Santa María Parish Council until 2003.


In 2009, the building underwent extensive rehabilitation by the Municipality of Bragança, aiming to preserve the main facades and traditional architectural elements evident in the entrance hall and some ceilings of the building. Additionally, the original vault doors of the Bank of Portugal's vault, which would house the Library of the Rei Afonso Henriques Foundation, were located there.


The Municipality of Bragança provided the property to the Rei Afonso Henriques Foundation for use as its Portuguese headquarters. The headquarters were officially inaugurated on June 17, 2009, by the President of the Portuguese Republic, Prof. Aníbal Cavaco Silva, and the then-President of the Foundation, Prof. Dr. Arlindo Marques Cunha.