The Quinta

The Quinta de Nossa Senhora da Conceição was built in the 17th century by João Baptista Sinel de Cordes. The founder of the family was a native of Flanders and came to Portugal in the reign of Filipe III as an official of the Royal Excise Office. He was ordered by the Spanish king to host the Flemish bankers at the quinta to manage taxes. At the time, Flanders was a part of the Spanish Empire.

The coat of arms that can be seen above the main gate is that of the family Sinel de Cordes. The most eminent of the Sinel de Cordes family was General Sinel de Cordes, one of the insurgents of the 28th of May movement and a minister of finance during the dictatorship that preceded the government of Salazar; it was General Sinel de Cordes who negotiated the failed attempt to obtain a foreign loan in 1927/28.

The architectural style of the house is rather austere, in-keeping with the fashion of the period. The house remained in the family until 1969 when it was sold to a Belgian, Mr Brognon (known in the surrounding area as the Quinta do Belga, The Belgian’s Farm). It later became part of the estate of the Câmara Municipal de Oeiras (Oeiras Council) and more recently, the home of the Oeiras International School.

The Chapel

An image of the ornate chapel at OIS
The chapel at OIS from the doorway
The azulejos in the OIS chapel

The chapel was dedicated to St John the Baptist (São João Baptista) after whom the first sons of the family were named. The altar, inlaid with marble, is by João Antunes. In the center, you can see the Maltese Cross, of which the founder of the chapel would have been a member. It is in the style characteristic of the 17th century.

Moreover, the tiles were attributed to the famous Gabriel Del Barco who worked in Portugal between 1669 and 1708. The tile on the left is signed and dated for 1691. It is considered one of the first blue and white Portuguese tile panels and the beginning of an auspicious and period for Portuguese tiles (the Masters’ Cycle).

The illustrations on the tiles portray the life of St John the Baptist, his childhood, his preaching and the baptism of Christ. The border shows scenes of children playing. These are among the first figurative tiles made in Portugal. The altar, inlaid with marble, is by João Antunes.

Fonte de Embrechados

There is a scene of “The Visitation” painted on the ceiling with the phrase by St Lucas roughly translated as: “The child leapt with joy at my breast”. The decorations on the ceiling may also be drawings by de Del Barco.

The fountain is decorated with inlaid work of shells and glass, a design which is characteristic of the period.