Jeronimos Monastery

Jeronimos Monastery | A UNESCO World Heritage site

Situated in Santa Maria de Belem in Lisbon, the Jeronimos Monastery stands as a monumental symbol of the history and culture of Portugal. This UNESCO World Heritage Site was constructed in the Age of Discovery, which is a pivotal era when Europeans ventured into uncharted waters. Originating from a dilapidated church, it served as a last refuge for sailors before their voyages. Commissioned by King Manuel I and dedicated to St. Jerome, the monastery housed Heironymite Monks. It seamlessly blends Manueline, Mannerist, Renaissance, and Late Gothic styles and also memorialises the journey of Vasco da Gama to India.


Decorated with maritime motifs, it hosts the tombs of Portuguese royalty and notable figures, like Vasco da Gama, Fernando Pessoa, King Manuel I, and poet Luis de Camões. On your visit to the Jeronimos Monastery Lisbon, you can stroll through its gardens and admire the architectural beauty of the arches in the cloister, facade, and chapel. This Page will provide in-depth information about the Jeronimos Monastery history, characteristics, and highlights.

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History of Jeronimos Monastery

Construction Begins (1501): King Manuel I gives the order to build the Jeronimos Monastery in Lisbon, Portugal. The monastery is built with Gothic architecture with Manueline features. 


Completion of the Church (1541): The church is completed after 40 years of work. It is the most important component of the monastery, devoted to St. Mary of Belém. 


Earthquake Damage (1755): The church and the monastery sustained substantial damage as a result of the Great Lisbon earthquake in 1755. During the Napoleonic Wars, French troops used the monastery as a barrack. 


Restoration and UNESCO Designation (1833-1983): In 1833, the Portuguese government started restoring the monastery. The Jeronimos Monastery received a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation in 1983.


Papal Visit (1967): During his visit to Portugal, Pope Paul VI pays a visit to the Jerónimos Monastery, He visits Vasco da Gama's tomb and celebrates Mass at the church.


500th Anniversary (2001): The monastery marks its 500th anniversary with exhibitions and events to highlight this significant milestone. One of the events include the inauguration of a new King Manuel I statue.


Recent Restoration (2010-2011): A significant repair effort was carried out with funding from the Portuguese government and individual donors, between 2010 and 2011. The restoration work is centred on the church and cloisters and includes repair, conservation and cleaning. 

Architecture of the Jeronimos Monastery

  • Jerónimos Monastery showcases the Portuguese Late Gothic Manueline architectural style, which is a fusion of Gothic, Renaissance, and Moorish elements.


  • The exterior part of the monastery features intricate maritime motifs and sculptural decorations, which symbolise the connection of Portugal to the sea, navigation, and discoveries.


  • Inside the Jeronimos Monastery, you will discover a grand hall, cloisters, and the Church of Santa Maria that dazzles with a vaulted ceiling, stained glass windows, and tombs of historical figures

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  • The west wing became home to the National Archaeological Museum and the Maritime Museum in the 19th century.

What To See At Jeronimos Monastery

Tomb of Vasco da Gama

 The Tomb of Vasco da Gama in Jerónimos Monastery commemorates the historic journey of the legendary Portuguese explorer to India. As the first European to reach India by sea and connect Europe to Asia, the tomb of Vasco da Gama was created in the chancel of the church. This ornate stone tomb adorned within the lower choir not only serves as a final resting place of Vasco da Gama but also invites you to delve into the life and achievements of this influential figure who shaped the place of Portugal on the world map

Chapter House

Completed in the 19th century, the Chapter House is another attraction in Jerónimos Monastery that displays late Gothic architecture. Its magnetic allure lies in a vaulted ceiling embellished with 16th-century frescoes that depict the life of St. Jerome. In this centre of the attraction, you will find the tomb of Alexandre Herculano, surrounded by intricate carvings. The grandeur of the room is further enhanced by statues of St. Jerome and Archangel Michael at the entrance. 


Confessionals

 Confessionals are 12 attractive rooms in the monastery that are adorned with beautiful pillars, elaborate carvings, and stained-glass windows. These confession rooms showcase intricate Manueline designs, with black doors providing a sober foreground to the detailed surroundings. Designed for both priest and penitent, the confessionals create a serene atmosphere for reflection. The play of southern light through the stained-glass windows creates an intriguing and spiritually significant part of the Jerónimos Monastery

Baptismal Chapel

 Initially dedicated to Saint Leonard, the Baptismal Chapel in the monastery was later transformed in the 19th century with neo-Manueline designs. It offers an austere ambience through a baptismal font from the same era. Located on the left of the main Chapel, this attraction provides a unique contrast to the nearby gilded Chapel of Our Lord of Steps. The presence of the baptismal font and its neo-Manueline aesthetics contribute to the historical and religious significance of the chapel within the monastery.

Tomb of Luis de Camoes

Poet and chronicler of the Age of Discovery, Luis de Camões (1527 – 1580) is entombed in the lower choir within the Church. He is regarded as one of the greatest Portuguese poets. His death anniversary, June 10, is also celebrated as Portugal’s National Day.

High Choir

Completed in 1551, this room was used by the Hieronymite Monks as a substitute for the unfinished Chapter Room. It features huge, long windows that flood the space with light. At the entrance of the High Choir, above the balustrade, towers a magnificent silver statue of the crucified Christ.

Santa Maria Church

The Church of Santa Maria de Belém is located inside the Jerominos Monastery. King Manuel I and Queen Maria's tombs are located inside the church. It is shaped like a Latin Cross and consists of three identical naves held up by six pillars. They support the church's elaborately tall vaulted ceiling. The church is one of the best examples of the Portuguese Gothic Manueline style. In addition to this, it features an amazing altar and lovely stained-glass windows. You can take in the peaceful atmosphere of the chapel by attending a mass.

Cloisters

The cloister's advanced design showcases rectangular columns and Castilho's Plateresque ornamentation. Richly adorned corner pillars feature motifs like the armillarium and coat-of-arms. Inside, Manueline motifs blend nautical, European, Moorish, and Eastern elements, adorning the walls with a fusion of Renaissance and Spanish architectural influences.

Refectory

The Refectory was also completed by the first half of the 16th century during the reign of King Manuel I. Designed by Leonardo Vaz, it is classically Manueline with low vaulted ceilings. The lower walls of the Refectory are decorated with colorful azulejo tiles that depict the miracle of the bread and fish scenes in the New Testament and the scenes of the life of Joseph from the Old Testament. 

Know Before You Go Jeronimos Monastery

From location to tips, here's everything you need to know for your Jeronimos Monastery tour, so plan your visit to Jeronimos Monastery accordingly.

Essential Information
How to Reach
Best Time to Visit
Visitor's Tips
Entrances
  • Location : The exact location of Jeronimos Monastery is Praça do Império, 1400-206 Lisboa, Portugal. It is situated in the Belém district of Lisbon on the banks of the Tagus River


  • Opening Hours : The opening hours of the Jeronimos Monastery are between 10 a.m. and 5.30 p.m. from October to April, with the last entry at 5 p.m. Between May and September, the attraction remains open from 10 a.m. to 6.30 p.m., with the last entry at 6 p.m. You must also note that the monastery remains closed on Mondays, 1st January, Easter Sunday, 1st May, and 5th December.

Here are some easiest ways to reach Jeronimos Monastery:


  • By Bus- To reach Jeronimos Monastery, you can take bus lines 28, 714, 727, 729, or 751 from Cais do Sodre, Marques de Pombal, or Praça do Comercio and drop off at "Mosteiro dos Jeronimos" or "Belem/Jeronimos" stop. It will take you approximately 13 to 15 minutes to reach your final destination by bus.


  • By Car- If you prefer self-driving to Jeronimos Monastery, you can take Av. Brasília from the Lisbon city centre and follow along the river before turning right onto Rua de Belem. Once you reach the roundabout, you can take the second exit onto Praça do Imperio to reach your ideal destination in just 5 to 10 minutes.


  • By Metro- You can take the Cascais line from Belem Tower to the Belem Station, which will take you approximately 15 to 20 minutes. From the station, you can take a 5-minute walk to reach Jeronimos Monastery.
  • The best time to visit Jeronimos Monastery is between October and April. Although Lisbon remains warm and sunny throughout the year, this period offers cooler temperatures to explore the attraction.


  • As far as the time of the week is concerned, the best time to visit the monastery is during weekdays, especially Wednesdays and Thursdays. At this time, you can enjoy a quieter experience with shorter lines and fewer crowds. It is also advisable to visit early in the morning when the monastery opens to avoid the midday rush.
  • Arrive early in the morning to avoid crowds at the ticket counter and get direct access to the attraction.
  • Wear comfortable shoes as you will have to walk a lot inside the premises of the monastery.
  • Dress modestly and avoid wearing shorts and sleeveless tops as Jerónimos Monastery is a religious site.
  • Bring a camera to capture the stunning architecture and details of the monastery.
  • Allocate at least two to three hours to fully explore the Jerónimos Monastery.
  • Avail yourself of the audio guide to enhance your overall experience of the tour.
  • Carry enough cash as some areas may not accept credit cards.

Church Entrance: Located on the monastery's right side facing Praça Afonso de Albuquerque, this entrance is for visitors interested solely in the church, with free admission.


Cloister Entrance: Situated on the left side facing Jardim da Praça do Império, this entrance serves visitors wanting to explore the cloister, church, and other monastery areas, with an entrance fee required for the cloister and additional parts.

FAQ's

What is the history of the Jeronimos Monastery?

The Jeronimos Monastery in Lisbon was built in the Age of Discovery to honour the successful voyage of the explorer Vasco Da Gama to India. It took about 40 years to complete and showcase stunning Portuguese and Late Gothic architecture. Originally home to monks and guiding sailors, the monastery became a royal burial place of several notable figures like Vasco Da Gama, King Manuel, and poet Fernando Pessoa. Abandoned in 1833, it remains a historical gem that narrates stories of exploration and Portuguese heritage

What are the opening hours of the Jeronimos Monastery?

The opening hours of the Jeronimos Monastery are between 10 a.m. and 5.30 p.m. from October to April, with the last entry being at 5 p.m. From May to September, the attraction remains open between 10 a.m. to 6.30 p.m., with the last entry being at 6 p.m. You must also note that the monastery is closed on Mondays, 1st January, Easter Sunday, 1st May, and 25th December

What is the best time to visit the Jeronimos Monastery?

The best time to visit the Jeronimos Monastery is between October and April when the weather remains pleasant to explore the attraction. As far as the time of the day is concerned, weekdays are an ideal time to beat the crowds in the Jeronimos Monastery, especially on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

When was the Jeronimos Monastery built?

Jeronimos Monastery construction was began in 1501 and completed in 1601.

Is there any dress code of the Jeronimos Monastery?

No, there is no specific dress code at the Jeronimos Monastery. However, it is advisable to cover your shoulders and knees. Since Lisbon remains sunny most of the time, you should wear loose cotton clothes and summer dresses and avoid shorts. If you are planning to visit the attraction during the winter season, you can bring a light jacket to protect yourself from the cold

Is photography allowed in the Jeronimos Monastery?

Yes, photography is allowed in the Jeronimos Monastery, though you should refrain from using heavy video equipment such as tripods and monopods. You should also restrict yourself from using flash to preserve the historical artefacts and the serene ambiance.

How much does it cost to go to the Jeronimos Monastery?

It will cost you approximately EUR 10 per person to go to the Jeronimos Monastery. However, various ticket options are available at different prices, each with its own features. Booking your ticket online allows you to avail yourself of the additional deals and discounts for students and seniors above 65 years of age.

Is it worth visiting the Jeronimos Monastery?

Yes, visiting Jeronimos Monastery is absolutely worth it as it is an iconic symbol of architectural, cultural, and spiritual significance, which marks the Age of Discovery. Recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983, the complex of the monastery vividly portrays the rich history of Portugal during the era of exploration and colonisation. Upon visiting, you can immerse yourself in the historical and cultural heritage of the attraction.

When was the Jeronimos Monastery constructed?

The Jeronimos Monastery was constructed in the Age of Discovery as a church, which later evolved into a monastery that showcases the distinctive Portuguese Gothic Manueline architectural style

What facilities are available in Jeronimos Monastery?

  • Restrooms are available in the Cloister area behind the cash registers.
  • All the Church, Monastery, and lower Cloister levels are wheelchair friendly.
  • There is a cloakroom inside the monastery where you can keep your belongings safely.
  • Several gift shops are present inside the monastery for you to purchase your favourite souvenirs to take back home
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