Antiga Igreja Matriz Vila de Rei
The old Church of Vila de Rei (Igreja Matriz) also known as Church of Santa Maria was probably built during the times of Queen Isabel (Rainha Santa Isabella), in the XIII and XIV centuries, and was taller and more artistic than the current building.
In autumn of 1807 it was desecrated by Napoleon's soldiers during the Napoleonic wars. In addition to several vandalism, it was transformed into a stable, and finally set on fire. Its restoration had to be done quickly, because Vila de Rei did not have another place of worship that would provide all the parishioner’s needs. Therefore, the altars, which once would have been gilded, were built simpler and the ceiling, which is much lower than the previous one, was held by columns which are still there today.
In the year 1899 works were carried out in the church, from which dates the current main door. Twenty years later the altars were repaired. The latest restoration work, which included the replacement of the roof, interior cleaning and exterior painting, were held in 1992, giving the church its current look.
The church has five altars: the high altar dedicated to the patron saint of the parish, Our Lady of Conception; the altars of Our Lady of the Rosary and of Souls, on the Epistle side; the altar of the Heart of Jesus and a Chapel’s altar added to the body of the church, and which the chapel’s founder devoted to Santo Aleixo. This later became Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, being these days dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima. Besides these images, the ancient Church Matrix also has the images of the Lord of the Steps and the Dead Lord, as well as small images of St. Joseph and St. Agnes in the chancel to the patroness high, and B. Nuno and St. Therese, beside the large crucifix at the altar of Souls.
All archaeological finds discovered in the old Church area and the value that the infrastructure contains in itself, make it a monument of historical and historical importance for the municipality of Vila de Rei.