Wednesday, 9 July 2014

The Jerónimos Monastery

Together with the Belém Tower, the Mosteiro dos Jerónimo is also listed as a UNESCO Word Heritage site and is one of the 7 Wonders of Portugal. When I arrived it was still raining so on the photos the monastery looks a bit drab but it all shines white and is imposing in the sunshine.

This building was also built in the Manueline style. Indeed, it was King Manuel I. who commissioned the monastery and housed Hieronymite monks there (The Order of Saint Jerome, hence its name) whose only job was to pray for his soul. In their free time they were allowed to give support to the sailors too, who went to discover the World. Thanks to these guys and to the riches they brought back, the architects didn’t have to think small. Well, they really didn’t.

In the long bit you can visit the Marine Museum however most people come here to see the Church of Santa Maria, which is free to enter. There was a mass in progress while I was there so I couldn’t go around to see it all but I took a photo of its interior.

The main ‘attraction’ here (apart from the gorgeous and unique decoration) is the tomb of Vasco da Gamma. Have you ever heard his name? He was the person who singlehandedly made Portugal rich by discovering a marine spice route to India.

The other important place to go here is the two-storey cloister of the Monastery. I think it’s impossible to describe it with words so let me show it to you through the lens of my camera. 

This huge, impressive building is only about 10 minutes away from the Belém Tower so many people do the two monuments together taking advantage of the discount of the combined ticket, which is 12 euros. A ticket to the Monastery itself costs 10 euros but if you go on the first Sunday of the months you can get in for free. Seniors can get in for half price. It’s advised to get there about an hour before closing time to avoid queuing. For more information have a look at the official website here.

You can find the Monastery on Praça do Império. You can take the commuting train from Cais do Sodre train station and go three stops or take the (slightly uncomfortable) tram nr. 15 from Rossio Square.
Oh, and keep an eye out for the gargoyles!

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