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All About Portugal | November 18, 2017

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A tour through the World Heritage Portuguese Monasteries

Convent of Christ, Tomar
Clara Campos

To tour through the World Heritage Portuguese Monasteries will take you into a memorable voyage through the great Portuguese history since its early years.

Centre Portugal offers you an outstanding monastic triangle formed by the Alcobaça Monastery, Batalha Monastery and the Convent of Christ, all inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Discovering this rich heritage and its importance to the Portuguese history is my proposal for today’s tour, following the project Route Through World Heritage Portuguese Monasteries conceived by IGESPAR, aiming an integrated management of three major cultural resources of the Centre area in order to maximize their potential.

Unlike most of the tours suggested by Direction: Portugal, this one will take you more than a day, due to the grandiosity of the visited sites.
Starting with Alcobaça Monastery you will have the opportunity to dive in the early years of the Portuguese kingdom as this abbey was founded in 1153, when our first king, Afonso Henriques donated the land where it stands to Bernard of Clairvaus, the head of the Cistercian Order. Alcobaça Monastery was the first Gothic style monument ever built in Portugal and suffered several interventions throughout the centuries that contributed to its grandiosity, mainly during the reigns of Don Dinis and Don Manuel I. Famed by its impressive church and cloisters, its highest highlight are the tombs of Pedro and Inês, who lived one of the most sad love stories in history, comparable to the one of Romeo and Juliet in tragedy

Not very far away is the Batalha Monastery, a huge complex built under the orders of king John I as a way to thank the Virgin Mary for the victory in the Aljubarrota battle that ended the 1383-1385 crises, assuring him the throne and the Portuguese independence. As the construction of the entire monument lasted more than 150 years, the predominant Gothic style is mixed with Manueline and Renascence characteristics, depicting the architectural evolution from the 14th to the 16th centuries. The Portal, the main church, the Founder’s Chapel, the Chapter House, the Cloisters and the Unfinished Chapels are the main attractions of the monastery.

Last but not least is the Convent of Christ in Tomar, a Templar stronghold that ended up being the Order’s headquarters, played a crucial role in the defence of the Portuguese Kingdom against the Moors. In spite of the grandiosity of the all building, which shows influences of Romanesque, Gothic, Manueline and Renaissance styles, the Convent is worldwide famed for the exuberant manueline Janela do Capítulo (Window of the Chapter House).

The good news is that with the Heritage Route joint ticket the entrance for the three monuments only costs 15€. Go to http://www.igespar.pt/en/patrimonio/projectos/rotasdosmosteiros/ for further information.

Batalha Monastery gallery

Alcobaça Monastery gallery

Convent of Christ gallery

World Heritage Portuguese Monasteries tour

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