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Staircase of the Five Senses

Staircase of the Five Senses

In the legend of the map of Carlos Amarante, already quoted, we are confronted with a brief summary of this superb baroque staircase: «which is adorned with 15 statues and 6 fountains. The first is the 5 wounds, the following represent the 5 senses. They are formed in figures of half relief releasing water by the respective senses. There corresponds to each ladder of the ladder a fountain and to each fountain a statue on top and two sides. Each statue is allusive to the source, to which it belongs. »

In the ground and chagas’landing, the 5 Senses Staircase was born, an opulent and harmonious work of lines, ordered by the Archbishop of Braga D. Rodrigo de Moura Teles, built at the beginning of the 18th century, after his death on 4 September 1728. It presents, on the parapets, a grandiose set of stone statues depicting Biblical characters from the Old Testament and, at the central levels, five allegorical fonts, emblazoned and adorned with rocaille.

The staircase of the five senses begins with the source of the 5 wounds, or source of the 5 Currents. The following are 5 allegorical sources for each of the human senses, in the Rococo style, which rise majestically in high relief, casting water by the respective organs of meaning which each represents and with onomassical figurations of animals, inasmuch as all that is sensory is the domain of the animal kingdom. The pilgrim-tourist- visitor easily adapts to the beauty of the environment of this via-sacra through a connecting door: the senses. Through them, man easily realizes the sublime character of this sacred hill; he gets into the environment that surrounds him and interacts with him in such a way as to never forget him; integrates perfectly in the melody of nature, in the discourse of water spouting in waterfalls, fountains and lakes.

On this staircase we remember the hands, the ideas that plowed and tempered the shapes and emotions of granite. Walls, stairs, parapets, plinths, columns, niches, obelisks,

sculptures, coats of arms, all materialized in stones of the region.


The 5 Senses Staircase evolved from a symmetrical axis, zigzagging to double hauls

and diverging lines that rise to side patios, converging to common and central levels adorned with allegorical and heraldic sources whispering before the granite statues on the parapets inspired by the Bible.

Divided into 5 equal hauls, each one with a ladder with two equally equal hauls, with 9 steps each. Each body of the staircase have a fountain, 3 statues in a triangle (one in the middle and two on the sides( and pilasters where pyramids or urns are set. The grounds are supported by masonry walls, plastered and painted white, with pilasters of granite stone.

We consider the staircase an allegory to the human body. All that is sensory is the domain of the animal kingdom and will always be animals to exemplify in the various sources the capacities of each sense. As Aristotle said, does not reach the intellect without first passing through the senses.

As we shall see from the succession of sources, the discourse is organized as a path from the least to the most, from the exclusively sensory to the intellectual and mystic, to the greatest illusion provided (the look( to the total demystification that only touch can provide.

The statues of this staircase are due to a donation attributed to the confraternity by the Jesuits, after a dispute with the Oratorians.

Originally there were sculptures with pagan and mythological nomenclature in the staircase, which generated some polemics to the point that, in 1774, an edict forced the confraternity to rename with names of other biblical allegorical figures and new inscriptions. In this way, Argos became Vir Prudens, Orpheus in Idito, Jacinto in Vir Sapiens, Ganymede in José and Midas in Salomão, and as we shall see later, these characters are likely to make more sense.

In all sources are recorded the castles of the coat of arms of Archbishop D. Rodrigo de Moura Teles, except for the smell that has represented an armillary sphere.

The Bom Jesus do Monte, an unavoidable reference.