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Jerónimos Monastery, Portugal

The Jerónimos Monastery or Hieronymites Monastery, (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos), is located near the shore of the parish of Belém, in the Lisbon Municipality, Portugal. The monastery is one of the most prominent examples of the Portuguese Late Gothic Manueline style of architecture in Lisbon. It was classified a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the nearby Tower of Belém, in 1983.

Originally the home for the Hieronymite religious order, it was built by the Infante Henry the Navigator around 1459. The chapel that existed there, to the invocation of Santa Maria de Belém, was serviced by monks of the military-religious Order of Christ who provided assistance to pilgrims who transited the area. The small beach of Praia do Restelo was an advantage spot, with safe anchorage and protection from the winds,sought after by the ships that entered the Tagus. The Hermitage of Restelo (Portuguese: Ermida do Restelo), as it was known, was already a hermitage in disrepair, when Vasco da Gama and his men spent the night in prayer before departing on their expedition to the Orient in 1497

South portal

The ornate side entrance to the monastery was designed by Juan de Castilho and is considered one of the most significant of his time, but is not, in fact, the main entrance to the building. This shrine-like portal is large, 32-metre high and 12-metre wide, extending two stories. Its ornate features includes an abundance of gables and pinnacles, with many carved figures standing under a baldachin in carved niches, around a statue of Henry the Navigator, standing on a pedestal between the two doors.

Axial portal

Although of smaller dimensions then the southern doorway, this is the most important door to the Jerónimos: in terms of its localization in front the main altar and because of its ornamentation. This western portal is a good example of the transition from the Gothic style to Renaissance. It was built by Nicolau Chanterene in 1517. This was probably his first commission in Portugal. It is now spanned by a vestibule, added in the 19th century, that forms a transition between the church and the ambulatory.

Interior

Diogo Boitac laid the foundations for this three-aisled church with five bays under a single vault, a clearly marked but only slightly projecting a transept and a raised choir. The hall church layout is composed of aisles and nave that are of equal height. Boitac built the walls of the church as far as the cornices and then started with the construction of the adjoining monastery.

Monastery

Work on the vast square cloister (55 x 55 m) of the monastery was begun by Boitac. He built the groin vaults with wide arches and windows with tracery resting on delicate mullions. Juan de Castilho finished the construction by giving the lower storey a classical overlay and building a more recessed upper-storey. The construction of such a cloister was a novelty at the time. Castilho changed the original round columns of Boitac into rectangular ones, and embellished it with Plateresque-style ornamentation.

Official Website – http://www.mosteirojeronimos.pt/

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