Alcobaça Monastery, a masterpiece of architecture
Alcobaça Monastery is an impressive abbey were are to be found the tombs of king Pedro and chambermaid Ines who lived a beautiful and enchanted love story.
The Alcobaça Monastery, also known as the Alcobaça Royal Abbey of Holy Mary, is the first monument following the gothic style ever built in Portugal and is classified as World Heritage Site by the UNESCO since December 1989. Due to its grandeur is considered one of the most important abbeys of the Cistercian Order in Europe.
The abbey of Alcobaça was founded in 1153, when Afonso Henriques, the first Portuguese king, donated the land where it stands to Bernard of Clairvaux, the head of the Cistercian Order, who latter became St. Bernard. Even though the king had promised to make this offer if Santarém was conquered to the Moors, some say that the offer St. Bernard was really a way to please one of the most influent men inside the clergy in order to gain Pope’s trust and friendship. The magnificent 18th century tiles on the walls of the Kings Room portray the events linked to the offer.
The fertile soil of the site suited perfectly the purpose of the Cistercian Order in developing agriculture. In fact, the monks implemented a canal system to take drinking water from the River Alcoa and conquered cultivable land to the forests and marshes of the neighbourhood, thus contributing to the development of the region with the appearance of granges, orchards and vineyards.
The abbey as we know it today only began to be constructed in 1178 having the works lasted for centuries. To the impressive Gothic church with 100 meters length the Chapter House, the Refectory and the Monks Room Dormitory were added during the 13th and 14th centuries. Under the order of King Dinis was erected the Cloister of Silence, the largest Portuguese medieval cloister.
During King Manuel I reign in the 15th century, the Alcobaça Monastery suffered other works with the construction of the Upper Cloister and a new Sacristy among other improvements that did not survive to the 1755 earthquake.
In the 18th century, namely in 1752 was built the amazing fully tiled kitchen with its impressive chimney and water basin to store the water coming from the canal system highly advanced for the time built by the monks.
Alcobaça Monastery and the tombs of Pedro and Inês
In spite of the Monastery grandeur, the romantic souls tend to consider the tombs of Pedro and Inês the highlight of the complex. In fact the love between these lovers is one of the most tragic stories of the Portuguese history. While still married to Constança Manuel, king Pedro falls in love with Inês, one of the chambermaids of his wife. After the death of Constança, Pedro goes to live with Inês and they have three children. But his father, king Afonso IV is against the romance and sentences Inês to the death by treason. When Pedro took the throne he avenge his lover’s death by killing all the implicated on Inês death and declaring her Queen of Portugal.
King Pedro ordered the construction of two magnificently decorated tombs, one for him and the other for Inês. According to his will, the tombs were to be placed in a way that the two lovers could resurrect facing each other on Judgment Day. An old tale says that the lovers who visit the tombs of Pedro and Inês and swore loyalty to this love guarantee the eternity of their love.
Alcobaça Monastery Opening Hours
October to March
From 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. (last admission at 4.30 p.m.)
April to September
From 9.00 a.m. to 7.00 p.m. (last admission at 6.30 p.m.)
The ticket office closes 30 minutes before the Monastery’s closing time.
Closed: January 1st, Easter Sunday, May 1st and December 25th
Alcobaça Monastery Ticket price
Single ticket: € 6 (free for children under 14)
Heritage Route joint ticket (Monasteries of Alcobaça and Batalha, Convent of Christ): € 15
Alcobaça Monastery Virtual tour
For further information: http://www.mosteiroalcobaca.pt
Alcobaça Monastery gallery