Mosteiro dos Jerónimos
Monastery in Lisbon
The Jerónimos Monastery, situated on the banks of the Tagus, represents the pinnacle of Manueline architecture. Originally, a small hermitage dedicated to Santa Maria stood in its place, built by Infante D. Henrique in 1452. In the 16th century, King Manuel I obtained the Holy See’s approval to construct a large monastery there, which was donated to the Order of the Friars of St. Jerome. This monastery, linked to the Discoveries, is the most remarkable Portuguese monastic complex of its time and one of the major European churches.
Construction began in 1501 and lasted for a century, led by a notable group of architects and master builders, both national and foreign. The project was initially designed by Frenchman Boytac, continued by other Masters, including João de Castilho and, in the mid-century, Diogo de Torralva. After the Portuguese arrived in India, the Portuguese crown financed the project using revenues from trade with the East, including the so-called “Vintena da Pimenta” (a Spice Tax, about 5% of the revenues from trade with Africa and the East, equivalent to 70kg of gold per year) which was mostly used to fund the construction work.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site boasts impressive facades, church, and cloisters. On the south facade, João de Castilho’s painted portal is noteworthy. Infante D. Henrique stands guard at the entrance, while the Virgin of Bethlehem blesses the monument, and Archangel Saint Gabriel, the protector of Portugal, completes the arc. Nicolau Chanterenne authored the western portal, which leads into the sacred space. The statue of King D. Manuel and that of his wife, Queen D. Maria, are protected by St. Jerome and St. John the Baptist, respectively.
Inside, the church-hall, a Manueline masterpiece by João de Castilho, is impressive. The stunning vault of the transept is a remarkable architectural achievement, as it is not supported by any columns. The cenotaphs of the poet Luís de Camões, author of the epic poem “Os Lusíadas”, and
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Visiting Mosteiro dos Jerónimos
10am-6.30pm Tue-Sun Jun-Sep, to 5.30pm Oct-May
adult/child €10/5, free Sun until 2pm for Portuguese citizens/residents only