Jeronimos Monastery History

Jeronimos Monastery | A Historic Jewel of Portugal

Jeronimos Monastery is a popular UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most important monuments in Portugal. The architecture is in Manueline or Portuguese Late Gothic style, which tells a story about Jeronimos Monastery's history. The monastery features refined lavish decorations and vaulted ceilings. It is home to several essential tombs, exhibitions, archaeological sites and the last resting place of the explorer, Vasco da Gama.

The architecture is a reflection of the royal and clerical commissions that define the era in which it was constructed. Jerónimos Monastery was originally designed by architect Diogo de Boitaca. The place is well-known for the Chapter House, the Confessionals, Refectory Hall, the Tomb of Vasco da Gama and the Tomb of Alexandre Herculano. On your walking tours to this marvellous place, you can discover Jeronimos Monastery's History and the story behind its popularity. 

Many royal family members, Vasco da Gama, Luís de Camões, King Manuel I, and King John III are buried in this monastery. There are two major entrances to the monastery: the Cloister entrance and the Chruch entrance. The Cloister entrance is located on the left-hand side, whereas the Chruch entrance is on the right-hand side of the Monastery. Learn more about the history of Jeronimos Monastery by exploring and capturing some cherished memories. 

History of Jeronimos Monastery

15th Century

The Jeronimos Monastery construction was started in 1501 and took more than 100 years to complete. It was constructed on an existing church dedicated to the Church of Santa Maria de Belém. King Manuel inaugurated the Church, with plans of transforming that region into a monastery. 

The task of the construction was given to Holy See and they hired architect Diogo de Boitac to create the monastery's architecture. Boitaca planned the monastery and gave all his time to designing the monastery’s structure from 1502 to 1516. The architect used the Portuguese Late Gothic style, now known as Manueline. 

Read More: Inside Jeronimos Monastery

16th Century

King Manual invested in the entire project, from the money he received from taxes and the import of spices. As there was enough money available, the architect was allowed full freedom to create spectacular design patterns. The golden limestone was used in the construction of the monastery, now the material is known as Calcário de Lioz. 

In 1517, the construction was taken over by Juan de Castillo, a Spaniard, who changed the Manueline architectural style into the Plateresque architectural style. Silverware was added, along with the statues at the choir and main chapel to the monastery's decoration. This is the era that gave rise to a lot of the Renaissance influence in architecture.

17th Century

In the 17th century, the construction of Jeronimos Monastery was completed. In 1580, Portugal and Spain became the Portuguese Empire, and the construction process was draining the funds. King Philip of Spain entitled the place as a royal funeral monument and was opened to both Hieronymite monks and members of the royal family

In 1640, the Portuguese gained independence and many tombs of numerous royal members were built within the monastery. It became the resting place for Portugal’s kings as well as explorers in the 17th century. 

Also Read: Burials of Jeronimos Monastery

18th Century

In 1755, there was an earthquake in Lisbon which damaged the balustrade and high choir. As these were minor damages, they were fixed immediately, and during the Napoleonic Wars, the monastery turned into French military barracks. 

In 1720, Painter Henrique Ferreira was commissioned to paint the Kings of Portugal at the time, to display the painting in the Sala dos Reis (Hall of the Kings). The monastery was expanded with frescoes on the staircases, golden ceiling tiles, and other features.

19th Century

Under the supervision of Rafael Silva e Castro, Domingos Parente da Silva, and J. Colson, restoration work continued and was completed in 1860. During this period, the Jerónimos Monastery experienced several remodels that included the demolition of the Hall of the Kings and other portions of the monastery.

The architects added some things such as towers, pyramid-shaped roofs, and Italian scenery designs. The explorer Vasco da Gama's monuments were rebuilt by sculptor Costa Mota to mark the fourth centennial of his journey to India. In addition, Costa Mota restored the tombs of Luís de Camões in the southern lateral chapel.

20th Century

During this period of time, a lot of projects were started which affected the construction of the monastery. Although the National Museum of Industry and Commerce was envisioned but never finished. Later it was replaced by the Ethnological Museum of Portugal. The monastery was further rebuilt by Costa Mota along with designers Ricardo Leone and Abel Manta till 1924. There was an addition of stained glass windows to the building that improved the architectural style. 

In 1951, President Ñscar Carmona was buried in Sala do Capítulo. In 1963, there was an inauguration of the Portuguese Maritime Museum in the west wing, showcasing artefacts retrieved from naval expeditions.

Must Read: What to Wear at Jeronimos Monastery

Jeronimos Monastery Timeline

  • 1495: King Manuel ordered to construction of Jeronimos Monastery, which would be a resting place for the king and House of Aviz members.
  • 1501: Under King Manuel’s leadership, the construction work of Jeronimos Monastery began on 6th January 1501.
  • 1517: The original designer of the monastery, Diogo de Boitaca was replaced by Juan de Castillo. Also, he changed the architectural style from Portuguese Late Gothic style to Spanish Plateresque. 
  • 1521: King Manuel died which is why the construction of the monastery was temporarily paused. 
  • 1604: King Philip of Spain stated that the monastery would be the royal funeral monument and only accessible to monks and royal family members. 
  • 1720: Henrique Ferriera was commissioned to paint portraits of different kings in Portugal, which were to be displayed in Sala dos Reis (Hall of the Kings).
  • 1755: There was an earthquake in Lisbon which damaged the balustrade and the high choir. In addition, these damages were repaired immediately. 
  • 1894: Famous sculptor Costa Mota restored the tombs of Vasco da Gama and Luís de Camões in the southern lateral chapel.
  • 1963: The monastery’s western wing was transformed into the Maritime Museum. 
  • 2007: On 13th December 2007, the Treaty of Lisbon was signed at the monastery.

Construction of Jerónimos Monastery

Architects Involved

Diogo de Boitaca: The Jerónimos Monastery is his most well-known creation. Boitaca planned the monastery and devoted all of his efforts to creating the building between 1502 and 1516. Currently, it's one of Portugal's most significant and impressive structures.

João de Castilho João - He created the southern portico, which is one the best areas of the monastery. Following Boitaca's death, he altered the monastery's architecture to a Spanish Plateresque design. This included incorporating lavish interior and exterior decoration.

Do Read: Plan Your Visit to Jeronimos Monastery


The Jerónimos Monastery's primary architectural style is Manueline. However, Castilho brought the Spanish Plateresque style, which remains visible in various areas of the monastery. The building is composed of golden limestone and is an outstanding example of Portuguese Gothic Manuline architecture. This style first emerged during the Portuguese Renaissance and the Age of Discoveries.

Its main features are its opulent, traditionally styled ornamentation with a theme. The grandeur of the Jerónimos Monastery is enhanced by its expansive arches, frescoes, frames, and façade. The structure of the monastery took over a century to complete. Different artists contributed to its remodelling over time, shaping it into what it is today.

Jerónimos Monastery Today

Ever since its construction, the monastery has been involved in politics. On December 13, 2007, the Treaty of Lisbon was signed here. It remains one of the most significant moments in the history of Jeronimos Monastery and Portugal. The monastery was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. Every year, some 2.5 million tourists visit the monastery to see the last resting place of Vasco da Gama.

They also come to marvel at its amazing architecture. The monastery has been the hub of Lisbon's religious and cultural life since 1495. Learn about the history and witness the captivating beauty of the Jeronimos Monastery during your visit. 

Get Best Deals on Jeronimos Monastery Tickets

Jeronimos Monastery Tickets
i4.5 Stars| Rated By 40+ Customers
Jeronimos Monastery Tickets
highlightMobile Voucher
View More Details
Starts at
INR 18.363
Saving 6%
INR 17.249
/per adult

FAQ’s of Jeronimos Monastery

How old is Jerónimos Monastery?

Jerónimos Monastery is 523 years old and construction was started in the 15th century. It took more than 100 years to complete the monastery due to remodelling projects being approved throughout history and various artists' contributions.

Who built Jerónimos Monastery?

People who built Jerónimos Monastery were Nicolau Chanterene, Diogo de Boitac, Jérôme de Rouen, Diogo de Torralva and João de Castilho. 

What is Jerónimos Monastery famous for?

Jerónimos Monastery is famous for its Manueline also called as Portuguese Late Gothic style. The place is well known for being the resting place of the explorer, Vasco da Gama. 

Where is Jerónimos Monastery?

Lisbon is home to Jerónimos Monastery. The proper address is Praça do Império 1400-206 Lisboa, Portugal. In addition, the nearby places are Belém Tower, Lisbon Oceanarium, National Coach Museum, and Monument to the Discoveries. 

What is the architectural style of Jerónimos Monastery?

Jerónimos Monastery’s architectural style is Manueline also called as Portuguese Late Gothic style. Moreover, in 1517, the architect Juan de Castillo replaced Diogo de Boitaca and changed the architectural style to Spanish Plateresque. 

Are there guided tours explaining Jerónimos Monastery’s history?

Yes, the guided tours explain Jeronimos Monastery's history comprehensively. There are two guided tours, i.e. guided tours and audio tours. These guided tours will tell you about the adventurous history of the monastery. As the monastery is more than 500 years old, you’ll get to know various amazing facts about the architectural style, history and construction.

What is the most interesting fact about Jerónimos Monastery’s history?

The most interesting fact about Jeronimos Monastery's history is that it is the last resting place of Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese explorer. 

Who is buried in Jerónimos Monastery?

People who were buried in Jerónimos Monastery were Vasco da Gama, Luís de Camões, King Manuel I, King John III and many royal family members. 

Is Jerónimos Monastery worth visiting?

Yes, Jerónimos Monastery is worth visiting as it is the one of most visited places and the most important tourist attraction in Lisbon. The place is famous for its architectural style which is Manueline also called as Portuguese Late Gothic style. 


The content and images used on this site are copyright protected and copyrights vests with the respective owners.

© 2024 All rights reserved.