Famous Portuguese People: Francisco de Arruda
Little is known about the life of the master builder Francisco de Arruda and his older brother Diogo.
Francisco is known to have died in 1547, out-living his brother who died in 1531, but the year and place of his birth is unknown, though it may be assumed he came from the Alentejo region as many of his buildings are in that area of Portugal. As well as his brother Diogo, Francisco's son Miguel de Arruda was also later a builder and architect, with projects in Lagos in the Algarve and in the colonies of Brazil and Mozambique.
A military architect of genius Francisco's early work was the repair of the forts at Moura, Mourão and Portel near the border with Spain. He also traveled to North Africa to build fortifications in Morocco and a Moorish influence is seen in some of his later work.
Francisco de Aruda is known to have held numerous official positions during his illustrious career including master builder of the Alentejo, Royal Inspector of Works and master builder of the Royal Palace of Evora, a part of which survives in the Jardim Publico.
Diogo da Arruda's most famous work was the nave at the Convento de Cristo in Tomar, commissioned by Henry the Navigator when he became the head of the affluent Order of Christ, the Portuguese successor institution to the Knights Templars.
It is thought Diogo designed the famous nautical-styled window (Janela do Capítulo) on the chapterhouse of the church and it is possible the human figure with flat hat and beard at the bottom of the window is Diogo himself. His younger brother is also thought to have had a hand in the project.
The work of the Arruda brothers is prominent in the style of architecture which later became known as Manueline, with its intricate ornamental features.
Belem Tower, Lisbon