The magnificient Jerónimos (Hieronymites) Monastery is considered to be the most prominent monument of Lisbon and certainly the most successful achievement of the Manueline architecture style. The Manueline style, or Portuguese late Gothic, is a sumptuous Portuguese style of architectural ornamentation incorporating maritime elements and representations of the Discoveries, characteristically dated from the first decades of the 16th century.
The construction of Jerónimos Monastery was ordered by the Portuguese king Manuel the 1st, in the site of a modest chapel where departing and arriving seafarers came to pray. King Manuel transformed it into this remarkable monument, a prayer to the Virgin of Belém for the success of Vasco da Gama’s voyage to India. The construction works started in 1502 with several famous architects and engineers (e.g Diogo Boitaca, Nicolau Chanterene and João de Castilho) and took around 50 years to complete, built mainly with used pedra lioz, a local gold-coloured limestone.
The Monastery withstood the Great Earthquake of 1755 without too much damage. Later, in 1833, the Monastery became vacant by the abolition of the religious orders in Portugal and along with the Napoleon French invasions of the 19th century the building began to deteriorate to the point of almost collapsing,
The Church of Santa Maria has magnificent portals with a brilliant sculpture work,
and a prosperous spacious interior, and both in the Church and in the monastery are the tombs of King Manuel and his descendents and other of Portuguese important individualities, such as Vasco da Gama, the genious poets Luís de Camões and Fernando Pessoa.
In a stretch built in 1850 is nowadays located the national Museum of Archaeology, and on the West side is situated the prestige National Marine Museum.
In 1983 the Monastery was classified by the UNESCO, with nearby Torre de Belém, as a World Heritage Site and is doubtless one of the most delighted places in Lisboa.