Church of Our Lady of the Conception (Almofala)
Itarema, Ceará, Brazil
The Church of Our Lady of the Conception is located in the town of Almofala, a district in Itarema municipality, 233 kilometres from Fortaleza in the north-western part of Ceará state. The church formed part of a settlement of Tremembé natives in the 18th century. Construction was apparently completed in the second half of that century. A document dated April 30th, 1758, indicates that it was funded by the Brotherhood of Our Lady of the Conception of Almofala and not by the Jesuits, and that the main builder was Jozé Lopes Barbalho. According to Barbalho, the Brotherhood commissioned him to build the walls and roof woodwork, as well as the chancel arch, cross, door frames, main entrance and choir windows. Unstable dunes around the church impinged on the structure in 1897, virtually destroying the interior. It was rediscovered in the 1940s and restored by IPHAN in 1983. The church is made of brick, clay and mortar. comprising a nave, a chancel, aisles on both sides of the nave and a sacristy. The main façade corresponds to the central nave and has an elevated triangular pediment with an oculus at the base, bordered by volutes and flanked by two pinnacles. The openings, namely the central door flanked by two higher windows, follow the same style of churches in Minas Gerais. Both the main door and choir windows have stone jambs and lintels. The two secondary doors for access to the side aisles have depressed arches, with decorated jambs and lintels. The church has a single rectangular bell-tower topped by a design of Joanine inspiration. According to Castro, it recalls the towers of the convent at Mafra in Portugal. It is not known how such an erudite Portuguese design arrived in Ceará. The choir is made of wood with a balustrade. The building was listed by federal law in 1980.