With another really rainy day forecast, I thought I would try to go somewhere that would provide some measure of protection against the elements, which is how I ended up at at Lisbon’s Jeronimos Monastery (aka Hieronymites Monastery) early on Saturday morning. I didn’t realise how important getting here early was, by the time I left here an hour later there was a line around the block. Of course, I shouldn’t have been surprised – this is one of Lisbon’s top sites, being a World Heritage Site (along with the nearby Tower of Belém).

The construction of the monastery started in 1501 and was completed 100 years later, however, in looking at all the exhibits inside, it was clear that a lot was added and removed throughout the years. King Manuel I wanted this to be the burial place for the royal kings of Portugal, and wanted the Hieronymite monks to pray for their souls. The style in which it was built is now known as Manueline, an architectural style found throughout Portugal. The church and monastery withstood many of the trials an tribulations that troubled Lisbon over the centuries, but in 1833 it was secularised and well into a state of disrepair until 1860 when restoration work began.

Inside the church, adjacent to the monastery, lie all the royal sarcophagi. It also holds the remains of many of Portugal’s notable sons, the most famous being Vasco da Gama (who also has a memorial in the Pantheon, but he is laid to rest here). Not far from the monastery is the very large Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Monument of the Discoveries) and the Tower of Belém, both well worth visiting, even on a rainy day!


Monuments: Mostly sarcophagi for the royal family and other notable Portuguese.

Grounds: The inner monastery courtyard is beautiful, many people, like me, could not stop photographing it. There are stairs and lifts to the upper levels.

Visitors: Hundreds of people were here while I was here, I imagine the numbers swell during the high season.

Notes: The inner displays were a fascinating look at the history of Portugal (and the world).


Site: Jerónimos Monastery

Established: 1501

Notable Internments: Vasco da Gama, Luís Vaz de Camões (poet), Portuguese royalty

Location: Praça do Império 1400-206 Lisboa, Portugal. The #15 tram will get you here.

Hours: 10:00-17:00 (winter) to 18:00 (summer)