Hieronymites monastery, grandiosity by Tagus River
The Hieronymites monastery, in Belem area, reveals the grandiosity of the Portuguese Age of Discovery and is a tribute to those who made this deed possible.
The Hieronymites monastery, or Mosteiro dos Jerónimos in Portuguese, exemplifies the Portuguese art at its best. Set in the beautiful district of Belem, facing Tagus River, it is one of the top 10 monuments in Lisbon and it reveals the glory of the Portuguese Age of Discoveries. It is a symbol of the Portuguese capital.
Classified by the UNESCO, along with nearby Belem Tower, in 1983 as a World Heritage Site, the Hieronymites monastery is the greatest exponent of the Manueline style, a sort of Portuguese late-Gothic, characterized by the representation of navigation symbols as well as sculptures of plants and exotic animals from the new lands discovered by the Portuguese explorers.
It took the name of the religious order it was handed over; in fact, the Hieronymites stayed in the Monastery until 1833 when the order was dissolved and the temple became the church of the Santa Maria de Belém parish.
The history of the Hieronymites monastery
Started on the orders of Manuel I to celebrate Vasco da Gama’s successful return from India, today’s monastery was built on the site of a former church devoted to Santa Maria de Belém (Holly Mary of Belem). As a curiosity, let me tell you that it was supposedly here that Vasco da Gama and his men came to pray before departing for India in 1497. The construction of the Hieronymites monastery started in 1501 and it lasted for almost a century. Thanks to a 5% tax on the recent discovered eastern spices, there was enough money available to do something impressive.
Photo by YaYapas
Design and initiated by Diogo de Boitaca, the construction of the monastery went on with several architects in different periods of time such as João de Castillo (1475-1552), Diogo de Torralva (1500-1566) and Jerónimo de Ruão (1530-1601). They all left their marks and contribute for the uniqueness of the monument, the “jewel” of the Manueline style, that incorporates traces of the late-Gothic and Renaissance styles, combining on an unique way symbols of national sovereignty, religiousness and naturalism.
Photo by suziesparkle
Fortunately, the monastery survived the Great Earthquake of 1755 almost untouched. However, with the departure of the Hieronymites the monument’s importance declined and part of its rare and precious artifacts was lost.
By 1860 begun the renovation of the monastery as well as the construction of the southern façade. Several interventions on the building throughout times contributed to today’s magnificence of the Hieronymites monastery.
Photo by Bhupal Adhikari
The main highlights of the Hieronymites monastery are the South Portal, the façade facing Tagus River, the Main Gate, facing East, the Saint Mary of Belém Church, the High Chapel, the Cloister, the Chapter Room, the Sacristy, the Confessional, the Choir Stalls and the Library.In this monument you can find the stone tombs of some of the most prominent figures of the Portuguese history such as Vasco da Gama, Luís de Camões, King Sebastian or Henry the Chaste.
Photo by suziesparkle
The Museu da Marinha (Navy Museum) and the Planetário Calouste Gulbenkian (Planetary) are settled in the adjacent buildings of the Monastary and are also worth of a visit. Do not miss the National Archaeology Museum of Lisbon, that since 1903 occupies the Western wing of the Hieronymites monastery.
- October to May
- – From 10.00 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. (last admission at 5.00 p.m.)
- May to September
- .From 10.00 a.m. to 6.30 p.m. (last admission at 6.00 p.m.)
- Closed: Mondays and 1 January, Easter Sunday, 1 May and 25 December
- Price: 7€ per person
Hieronymites monastery Virtual tour