Mosteiro de Santa Maria de Alcobaça
Alcobaca Travel Blog› entry 5 of 20 › view all entries
We leave Óbidos just past noon and drive in about 45 minutes to the town of Alcobaça. This small city is famous for its Medieval Catholic Monastery called Mosteiro de Santa Maria de Alcobaça. We do not know the exact location of this monastery, but just enter the town’s centre as our destination in the navigation system and hope for the best.
When we park the car in a narrow street that is supposed to be right next to the centre, we have no idea where we are. We just follow a block or two on pure instinct, and then run into a huge religious building that can only be the monastery we are looking for. And it is absolutely gorgeous!
The building of this complex began in 1178 and lasted until the late 13th century.
The church and adjacent buildings are stunning, it’s obvious this monastery was important and powerful. In the 13th and 14th century many royals were buried here, the most important ones were Kings Afonso II and Afonso III. The tombs that are most famous are those of King Pedro I and his mistress Inês de Castro.
Pedro fell in love with Inês de Castro at a young age. Inês had noble blood, but Pedro’s father, king of Portugal, didn’t want Inês’s father too gain influence.
Later, when the king had died and Pedro was crowned as king of Portugal, Pedro declared that he had married Inês in a secret ceremony before she was killed. He had her body dug up and presented her embalmed corpse at court with a crown on her head. He demanded that all people would kneel for her and pay homage to her decomposed hand. Inês was declared queen en Pedro commissioned two magnificent Gothic tombs for himself and his wife, which have ever since then been at the Mosteiro de Alcobaça.
The monastery has many fascinating rooms that can be visited, like the Room of the Kings, the Dormitory of the monks, the Refectory where the monks ate, the Kitchen and the Cloister of Silence. Most special is the Sacristy though.
If you get your entrance ticket, tell the receptionist you also want to visit the Sacristy. The entrance to this room is not being advertised and costs 2 euro a person extra. This is because the priests still use this area before mass and want to keep it as quiet as possible. With this extra ticket they will open up the room especially for you and give you a short private tour.