Monastery of S. Vincent

The origin of the monastery of S. Vincent dates back to the siege of Lisbon in 1147. The knights who made up the 2nd crusade grouped in two camps outside the city walls, one to the west (currently Chiado) and the other to the east that would come to give rise to the Monastery of S. Vincent.

Monastery of S. Vincent
Monastery of S. Vincent seen from Porta do Sol

The monastery of S. Vincent was built by the 1st King of Portugal, Afonso Henriques, and was already very degraded in the 16th century. From this original monastery, the cistern for collecting rainwater has come to our days.

Monastery of S. Vincent
Entrance to the Monastery

 The new monastery began to be built in 1582 and was completed in 1629. The architecture is considered one of the examples of Mannerism in Portugal.

Monastery of S. Vincent
View from the top of the Monastery

The visit to the monastery of S. Vincent is an important part of the visit to the eastern part of Lisbon, and can be combined with a visit to the National Pantheon or the Flea Market.
There is no shortage of interesting reasons to visit, such as the cloisters, the large collection of Baroque tiles, the Braganza family pantheon, the cardinals’ pantheon, the fables of La Fontaine presented in 18th century tiles and, the icing on the cake , the roof of the church that can be walked along the entire length and constitutes the best viewpoint of the old city.

Recommended duration of visit: 2h to 2h30m 
Hours of Operation:
Tuesday to Sunday, from 10:00 to 18:00 with the last entry at 17:00 (if you can, go earlier)
The entrance is made through a door in the side wall, on the right side facing the Church.
Closed January 1, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Christmas Day.
The entrance price is €5 but there are several discounts (seniors and young people). Admission is free for children

Warning: the visit can be challenging for people with reduced mobility, especially access to the roof of the Church.

Curiosities:

  • Emperor Pedro I of Brazil was buried in this place until 1972, the year in which he was transferred to the monument of independence in Brazil
  • Catherine of Braganza, who was Queen Consort of England after her marriage to Charles II, is buried here
  • the church has one of the few church ceilings in Lisbon that survived the 1755 earthquake
  • from the roof of the Church you can see the National Pantheon from an upper level
  • the church and the monastery, although co-existing, are managed by different entities
  • in the monastery, more than 100,000 tiles from the 18th century can be seen
  • the monastery is said “from outside” because in the 12th century. it was located outside the walls

Jeronimos Monastery

Jeronimos Monastery and Belem Tower are the Unesco Heritage sites of Lisbon.

Once Upon a time… a beach next to the village of Restelo on the right bank of the Tagus, close to where the river meets the Atlantic. During the 15th century and particularly after the conquest of Ceuta (1415) this area became the point of departure and arrival for fleets that year after year set out to reconnoiter the African coast. The maritime activity also brought the construction and reconstruction of ships and all the logistics associated with it.

The great mentor of this activity was Prince Henry the navigator, who in 1452 ordered the construction of the Chapel of Our Lady of Bethlehem (“Belem” in Portuguese), from which the name of the place derived. The objective was to provide religious services to sailors and to the new local community.

The navigators Vasco da Gama and Pedro Alvares Cabral and their crews held vigils in the Chapel of Our Lady of Bethlehem, before embarking on the voyages that took them to India (1497) and Brazil (1500).

In 1496, King Manuel asked the Pope for permission to build a large monastery to replace the Chapel. In 1498 the future Monastery was donated to the Order of Saint Jerome.

Jeronimos Monastery – side door of the Church

The construction of the Jeronimos Monastery began in 1502 and lasted for about a hundred years. The architect who conceived the original project was Diogo de Boitaca. Like the neighboring Belem Tower, the architectural style is Manueline, characterized by exuberant decoration in elements of nature.

The Jeronimos Monastery is the symbol translated into stone of the Portuguese epic in the 15th and 16th centuries. It was chosen by king Manuel as his eternal resting place, as well as his descendants.

Jeronimos Monastery Church

In 1983, the Jeronimos Monastery was classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

What can you see:

  • free visit – the south exterior façade, the magnificent side portal of the Church, the main portal and the Church with the tomb of the poet Camóes on the right side of those who enter and the navigator Vasco da Gama on the opposite side – recommended duration: 15 minutes
  • paid visit – everything included in the free visit plus the cloister, the monastic areas and access to the choir for a higher level view of the Church – recommended duration: 30 minutes
Jeronimos Monastery – cloister

Trivia:

  • the surfaces facing the Tagus (where visitors enter and leave Lisbon by sea) are much more decorated than all the others. For example, the side portal of the Church is incomparably more decorated than the main one.
  • the value of 5% of the crown’s revenues from the spice trade was attributed to the works of the Monastery. This value corresponded in the 16th century to an annual value of about 70 kg of gold.
  • before the regularization of the banks of the Tagus, the river came much closer to the Monastery than it currently is.
  • the Monastery was designed for 100 friars
  • Pastéis de Belém originated in the kitchens of the Monastery

Visiting hours (self guided): 10:00 am – 5:30 pm from October to April and 6:30 pm from May to September (last entry 30 minutes before closing)

Closing: Mondays and January 1st, Easter Sunday, May 1st, June 13th and December 25th. On Sunday morning visits are limited by the occurrence of religious services

Entrance ticket: 10€ (free up to 12 years old). The ticket office is located at the entrance of the Archeology Museum