Photo Story: Visiting the Jerónimos Monastery in Belem

Jerónimos Monastery belem lisbon portugal
The Jerónimos Monastery in Belem.

With its freshly painted white walls and intricately carved statues, the Jerónimos Monastery, despite being the umpteenth cathedral and monastery I had visited in Europe was rather charming. It reminded me of a castle with a fortress, as compared to the Russian Danilov Monastery which we visited in Moscow.

Jerónimos Monastery belem lisbon portugal
In the courtyard – Looks like a castle more than a monastery?

According to Wiki, The Jerónimos Monastery is one of the most prominent examples of the Portuguese Late Gothic Manueline style of architecture in Lisbon. It was classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the nearby Tower of Belém, in 1983.

Outer facade

Jerónimos Monastery belem lisbon portugal
Despite the white paint wearing off, the facade brings to mind ancient castles and the stories behind them.
Jerónimos Monastery belem lisbon portugal
The great white walls of the Jerónimos Monastery.
Jerónimos Monastery belem lisbon portugal
The Saints who lined the facade.
Jerónimos Monastery belem lisbon portugal
Reminds me a little of La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona…

South portal

Jerónimos Monastery belem lisbon portugal
See if you can spot Henry the Navigator, who is standing on a pedestal between the two doors.

The ornate side entrance to the monastery was designed by Juan de Castilho and is considered one of the most significant architects of his time. However, the South Portal is not the main entrance to the building. This shrine-like portal is large, 32-metre high and 12-metre wide, extending two stories. Its ornate features includes an abundance of gables and pinnacles, with many carved figures standing under a baldachin in carved niches, around a statue of Henry the Navigator, standing on a pedestal between the two doors.

Jerónimos Monastery lisbon portugal
South Portal of the Jerónimos Monastery.

Axial portal

Jerónimos Monastery belem lisbon portugal
Axial portal of the Jerónimos Monastery

Although of smaller dimensions than the southern doorway, this is the most important door to the Jerónimos: in terms of its localization in front the main altar and because of its ornamentation. This western portal is a good example of the transition from the Gothic style to Renaissance. It was built by Nicolau Chanterene in 1517. This was probably his first commission in Portugal. It is now spanned by a vestibule, added in the 19th century, that forms a transition between the church and the ambulatory.

Jerónimos Monastery belem lisbon portugal
Close up on the statues
Jerónimos Monastery belem lisbon portugal
What lies behind this door?

Inside the monastery

Jerónimos Monastery belem lisbon portugal
The entrance, which was left open on Monday.

We were left with no other days to visit the Jerónimos Monastery in Belem, except on Monday, which is a day that it is supposedly closed to the public. Thankfully, a small door was open and we could enter to see grand statues and towers.

Jerónimos Monastery belem lisbon portugal
Inside the beautiful hallways of the Monastery

The inside walls of the cloister have a wealth of Manueline motives with nautical elements, in addition to European, Moorish and Eastern motifs.

Jerónimos Monastery belem lisbon portugal
Ceiling of the Jerónimos Monastery.

The round arches and the horizontal structure are clearly in line with the Renaissance style, while at the same time there is also a relationship with Spanish architecture. The decorations on the outer walls of the inner courtyard were made in Plateresco style by Castilho: the arcades include traceried arches that give the construction a filigree aspect.

Jerónimos Monastery belem lisbon portugal
In detail.
Jerónimos Monastery belem lisbon portugal
Resting in peace. Really like this pic and its composition.

In one of these arcades is the sober tomb of the poet Fernando Pessoa, while several other tombs in the chapter house contain the remains of the poet and playwright Almeida Garrett (1799–1854), the writer-historian Alexandre Herculano (1810–1877), former presidents Teófilo Braga (1843–1924) and Óscar Carmona (1869–1951).

Jerónimos Monastery belem lisbon portugal
Love the full length stained glass windows.
Jerónimos Monastery belem lisbon portugal
Looks kinda intimidating from here.
Jerónimos Monastery belem lisbon portugal
This too…

With credits: Wikipedia

The Travelling Squid’s Take

The Jerónimos Monastery in Belem is probably the biggest, most significant monument in Belem. The inner facades of the monastery are definitely worth exploring, therefore try to visit Belem during other days of the week, except Monday. I was pleasantly surprised to find statues of great men lying by the side of stained glass windows with sunlight streaming in. It did seem like an ideal resting place. That was a simple, peaceful moment, unspoilt by the tourists that thronged the great halls. A moment which I had to myself. Just me, myself and I.

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Have you been to the Jerónimos Monastery in Belem?

Please share your thoughts.

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