Alcobaça Monastery

Alcobaça - Alcobaça


The Santa Maria de Alcobaça Monastery, also known as Royal Abbey of Saint Mary of Alcobaça, is one of the Portuguese architecture and historical master-pieces, classified by UNESCO as World Heritage, considered to be one of the most important Cistercians Abbeys in Europe.

Donated by the first Portuguese king, D. Afonso Henriques, to Bernard of Clairvaux, the Abbey’s construction works started back in 1178. It consists on the first Gothic work built in Portuguese soil. Its general plan is perfectly introduced in the rigor, austerity and purity of the building forms in the Saint Bernard style, which was devoted to pray, penitence, renunciation to the material goods and manual work, in constant community and in the most absolute silence.

The Monastery is composed by the Church with a latin cross plan, and three cloisters with two floors. Recently the existence of a fourth cloister was discovered, a structure that was probably destroyed with the big earthquake in 1755.

Also quite interesting is the Ambulatory, the Chapter House, the Sacristy, the Reliquary Chapel, the Dormitory, the Monks Room, the Refectory, the Old and the New Kitchens, the tombs of kings D. Afonso II (1185-1123) and D. Afonso III (1210-1279) and the very famous tombs of D. Pedro and D. Inês de Castro, in what is considered to be one of the most tragic and romantic love histories of Portugal.

D. Pedro and D. Inês de Castro – Tragedy and Romance

Portuguese Prince D. Pedro I married to D. Constança Manuel, falls in love with one of his wife maids: the Castilian D. Inês de Castro. After the death of D. Constança, D. Pedro assumes in public his love for D. Inês and started living together with her, uprising three children.
Nevertheless, D. Pedro’s father, king Afonso IV, did not approved this relationship, and ordered the assassination of D. Inês, for allegedly betraying the kingdom.

After becoming King, D. Pedro ordered the remains of his beloved to be transferred to her tomb in Alcobaça and, according to a popular legend, made her be crowned as Queen of Portugal and ordered all court members to pay her homage by kissing her decomposing hand. He ordered the construction of her and his tombs and placed them in Alcobaça Monastery. They now are considered to be some of the greatest medieval tomb sculptures in Portugal.
In his testament, the King ordered to have both tombs placed face to face so that in the judgment day day could face each other and look in the eyes.
Nowadays these tombs are visited by many in love couples, many of them in their wedding day, as it is say that those who swear fidelity to this love sees the eternity of its own.

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