An Ornate Monastery

After spending the day with my friend Claudia I headed out on the train to Belém on the west side of town. I wanted to get there later in the day in the hopes of avoiding most of the crowds. The first place I wanted to visit was the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos, an absolutely gorgeous monastery built in the 16th century.

Mosteiro dos Jeronimos

Mosteiro dos Jeronimos

When I arrived I noticed a large group of people but as I got to the ticket booth I was told that was the line up to get into the church of Santa Maria, not the monastery. Whew! It turned out that I was lucky enough to come at the right time. The monastery was pretty quiet.

Monastery cloister

Monastery cloister

The monastery is a monument to the Age of Discovery, a time when Lisbon became the mercantile centre of Europe due to its spice trade with India. King Manuel I built the monastery in 1502 on the site where Vasco da Gama and his crew spent the night in prayer before leaving to find a route to India and to give thanks to the Virgin Mary for their success. The taxes from the spices he and others after him brought back, helped fund the build.

Monastery Halls

Monastery Halls

Inside the walls of the monastery, I was completely in awe of the intricate stone carvings and the large cloister that lay in the middle of this large building. The hallways around the cloister are extremely ornate on both the ground and second-floor levels. The stone carvings are of coils of rope, sea monsters, coral, and other sea motifs. It was absolutely jaw-dropping. 

Refectory

Refectory

Exploring places late in the day can create some beautiful images. Golden hour is not just for landscapes, buildings can benefit from the subtle light. Don’t just look at the light but also look at the shadows that are created. In the image below the shadows created by the ornate columns cast a beautiful pattern onto the walls and door in the hallway.

Shadow Door

Intricate shadow on door

As closing time came I had to drag myself out of the monastery. I could have spent hours here photographing the light as it left the sky but I had to move on. In the next post, I will show you a couple of more places I visited while in Belém.