Discovering: Jeronimos Monastery, Belém, Portugal

On my fifth day as a solo woman traveller, I decided to visit the Jeronimos Monastery that is ubicated near the Tagus river in the parish of Belém, in the Lisbon Municipality, Portugal. The Monastery is one of the most distinguished of the Portuguese Late Gothic Manueline style architecture in Lisbon, so I utterly recommend visiting it. In 1983, the UNESCO formally designated the Hieronymites Monastery as a World Heritage Site.

Origins

Originally, King Manuel I of Portugal built a large monastery near the location where the Infante D.Henrique ordered a church to be built in the middle of the 15th century by invocation of St Mary of Belém. King Manuel decided to found the Monastery of St Mary of Belém in memory of the Infante, for his intense devotion and it was donated to the monks of the Order of St. Jerome. The monks provided assistance to Portuguese explorers who embarked on their world journeys from here.

It is believed that Vasco da Gama spent his last night here before starting on his expedition to discover the Orient. Today it is commonly known as the Jeronimos Monastery or Hieronymites Monastery. It is also interesting to mention that the famous pastéis de nata as a well known Portuguese dessert, was invented by monks of the Jeronimos Monastery. Its recipe remains top-secret from then to today.

Connection

Since my first step inside of this Celestial Monastery, I found a deep connection of peace and serenity as if the building had personality. I closed my eyes for a moment and got barefoot and then instantly got trapped in its past, history and culture. I continued walking, crossing with beauty arches, with complex sculptural themes incorporating maritime themes. I crossed with a beautiful chapel and the sepulchre for heroes and poets: Vasco da Gama and Luis da Camoes. Then I prayed from the bottom of my heart that the world prospers and evolves as a peaceful and healthy place to live.

As you can walk to its ways, you can see that several sculptors left their mark in this beautiful Monastery as Nicolau Chanterene who added depth with his Renaissance themes, while the architect Diogo da Torralva added the main chapel and the choir.

My pick

As a visitor I felt in love with this building that radiates calm and ease. A day visit will leave you with a feeling of peace and tranquillity. Make sure you allow at least half a day to visit this historic Monastery. When I visited it, I spent three hours wandering down its paths and checking out the various ceilings, sculptures, paints and carpets.

An English-speaking tour guide is also available for hire on-site. Tickets cost 10 to 15 euros and I recommend buying your ticket there directly. Whilst leaving you can make a donation as well to help maintain the building.