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The Monastery of Alcobaça - Historical Building Alcobaça - Portugal

The Monastery of Alcobaça (Portuguese: Mosteiro de Alcobaça), also known as the Abbey of Santa María is one of Portugal’s greatest visitor destinations: just ask the Portuguese themselves, who in July 2007 voted it one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal.

Built in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the Monastery is the largest church in Portugal: it contains five cloisters, seven dormitories, a huge kitchen and a library. The cathedral is considered the finest example of Cistercian architecture (the Cistercians are an order of catholic cloistered monks who live according to the precepts set down by St. Benedict: the order dates to 1098).

Essentially Gothic in structure, the Abbey got a Baroque facelift in the eighteenth century, but the interior remained unchanged. Inside, the high-ceilinged, majestic nave leads down to the mail altar and the transepts, which is where you’ll find the ornate tombs of King Pedro I and his wife/lover (it is uncertain as to whether or not they were ever formally married), Inés de Castro.

Many visitors come to Alcobaça expressly to see Pedro and Inés: their tragic love story is well-known in Portugal, where they are considered a sort of Portuguese Romeo and Juliet (complete with feuding-families and lots of gore). Their tombs face each other, supposedly so that when they rise for judgment day the first thing they see will be one another.

It costs a little extra (€4.50) to enter the maze of cloisters, gardens and kitchens in the back part of the abbey, but it is well worth it. The complex is huge: there are five cloisters, seven dormitories, a large kitchen and a library. In addition to Pedro and Inés, there are several royal tombs scattered around: you’ll see several in the Royal Pantheon alone. Also, be sure to check out the kitchen, with its humungous chimneys and water tank where fresh fish were kept for the monks!

Alcobaça, Portugal

Historical Building

Getting There
 The abbey is right in the center of Alcobaça: you can't miss it.

Price Description: Entry to abbey is free, but to see the cloisters and everything else you'll have to pay. Admission: €4.50, discounts for youth, seniors and students.

Relative price: Mid-Range

Contact Information:
URL: www.golisbon.com/portugal/cities/alcobaca.html

By Christopher Minster
I am a writer and editor at V!VA Travel guides here in Quito, where I specialize in adding quality content to the site and also in spooky things like...
24 Sep 2007

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