Santa Maria do Bispo 3D v1.0 Virtual Reconstruction

Santa Maria do Bispo 3D v1.0 is a virtual reconstruction by Carlos Carpetudo and Gonçalo Lopes for Morbase, a Montemor-o-Novo’s Municipality initiative.

Located nowadays in the west region of the Montemor-o-Novo’s Castle, the Igreja de Santa Maria do Bispo was established there in the first years of the 14th century. The first documented reference to it happens in 1321, when most of the village was still located inside the fortified walls. Once a magnificent building of three naves sustained on fourteen stone columns, today only remain the ruins of it majestic manuelino style portal and its chapels at the head of the church.

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Centuries after the conclusion of the initial architectural works, a new campaign started around 1524 on a time where the village of Montemor-o-Novo more and more was starting to have its economical epicenter outside the fortified walls. During the reign of king D. João III of Portugal, this construction campaign implied an almost complete reconstruction under the manuelino renovador style. It’s precisely this phase that we’re bringing back, via 3D scan and 3D modeling and through a reading of the Archaeology of Architecture of the actual ruins of the Igreja de Santa Maria do Bispo, in Montemor-o-Novo.

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Revealed for the first time in early May on the 1st Symposium of Virtual Archaeology that happened in Portugal, this is still a work in progress of our 3D virtual reconstruction project for Morbase (, on which was made a study of the actual ruins based on the methodology established by the Archaeology of Architecture. We also took into account two paintings on which the Igreja de Santa Maria do Bispo is represented: one of Pier Maria Baldi in 1669 and another of 1679, of author unknown, but present in the actual parish church. There are also key documental references in the book of construction work of 1534 and in the parish memories of 1758, made by order of the king after earthquake of Lisbon in 1755, both describing thoroughly the entire building.

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Parallels were also made with religious 16th century buildings such as the Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Assunção in Arronches, the Igreja Matriz de São Paulo in Pavia, and the Igreja Matriz in Alvito. Through photographic research and photogrammetric scan, we gathered architectural manuelino 3D models in Montemor-o-Novo’s region thus permitting us to develop the 3D modeling based on these parameters. For the
topography model of the hill of Montemor-o-Novo’s Castle, photogrammetry was also used by resorting to a drone (GEODRONE) to achieve a 3D model of the terrain.

We are currently developing version 2.0 of this project that will result in a video documentary, an online exhibition and a scientific article that will describe all the process of virtual reconstruction. The preliminary version (Santa Maria do Bispo 3D v1.0) is already available in Morbase and Youtube (video below).

Bearing the scale depicting Historical/Archaeological Evidence in mind, we applied it to our current 3D model of the Igreja de Santa Maria do Bispo in 1534 as seen below in these three infographic images.


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