JERÓNIMOS MONASTERY |Hieronemytes Monastery
Location: Praça do Império
Telephone: (+351) 213 620 034
The Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, or Santa Maria de Belém Monastery, is one of the most beautiful and imposing examples of the Manueline style, is located in the parish of Belém (Lisbon) right in front of Tagus River .
Construction began on January 6 in 1501 or 1502 (King´s Day) and it went on for a century, given the grandeur of the enterprise and the richness of the execution. The building was built in limestone (lioz) extracted from quarries not far from the implantation site.
In 1518, D. Manuel decided, in his will, to transform it into his own pantheon, amplifying "the exceptional character of the monarchy and the lineage that was born with it, as a branch of the Avis dynasty. But he wanted to distinguish it through a sumptuous work , that was in accordance with the principles of royal propaganda and the glorification of a kingdom, which was confused with its person“.
D. Manuel I intended to make Jerónimos a glorious work never seen before!
The dominant architectural style is late Gothic and Renaissance, which in its Manueline form is a style with unique and very Portuguese characteristics from the early 16th century, corresponding to the reign of King Manuel I (1495 - 1521).
The Manueline style is characterized by the profusion of decorations evoking the Discoveries, the sea and the symbols of Portugal. The trips inspire many of the naturalistic and “vegetable” elements of the complex ornamentation. Although, the Armillary Sphere, symbol of royal power, and the Cross of the Order of Christ, symbol of divine power, are the most important motifs in Manueline art, and are particularly prominent in this monument.
Abroad, the highlight goes to Porta Sul (South Gate) and Porta Axial (Axial Door).
The South Door was built between 1516 and 1518 by João de Castilho and his officers (following the project of Boitaca), the South Door is one of the richest pieces of Portuguese late Gothic architecture, being from an iconographic point of view a very complex portal. Even though it's just the side entrance, which runs parallel to the Tagus.
Axial Door or West Door
The Axial Door or West Door, is the main door of the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, facing west, located on the axis of symmetry of the building, in front of the main altar.
It was designed by Diogo de Boitaca and, later, by João de Castilho, as can be seen from the Gothic nature of the Hispano-Flemish configuration of the architectural elements. It was executed, in 1517, by Nicholas by Chanterene, which dictated an important stylistic inflection, with the introduction of Renaissance motifs.
Inside, we highlight the Church of Santa Maria de Belém; the Main Chapel; the Refectory, the Sacristy, the High Choir, the Chapter Room, the Confessionals, the Library, the Cloisters and the Tombs.
The architecture of this imposing church, with a Latin cross plan, is original and unique. It consists of three naves of the same height and width – Church Hall (common in Germany, but rare in the Iberian Peninsula). Covered by a single and extensive polynervated vault and supported by six pillars with a circular base.
The Livraria, or Library that at the time of the extinction of the Community – 1834 – would have a collection of about 8000 volumes, unfortunately most of the colection was lost.
It currently houses a permanent documentary exhibition whose objective is to build a memory of the 500 years of the Hieronemytes Monastery.
The Cloisters of Jerónimos are the first of their kind in Portugal, with a double vaulted floor and a square plan, with cut corners, forming a virtual octagon.
They are considered a masterpiece of world architecture and constitute an aesthetic statement of exceptional beauty, whose harmony resulted from the skill and delicacy of the masters who worked on it.
There are several tombs in Jerónimos (others were transferred to the National Pantheon): D. Manuel I and D. Maria de Aragão and Castile; D. João III and D. Catarina of Austria; D. Sebastião and Cardinal-King D. Henrique I; Vasco da Gama and Luís de Camões; Alexandre Herculano and Fernando Pessoa.
What we currently find in Belém preserves the essential aspects of the original design (16th century), but the monument is also the repository of the countless alterations and additions made in the following centuries, reflecting the architectural styles of each period.
The Hieronemytes Monastery is classified as a National Monument in 1907, it is also classified as World Heritage by UNESCO since 1983, since 2007 it is considered one of the 7 Wonders of Portugal, since 2016 it has the status of National Pantheon.
It was in this magnificent monument that the Treaty of Accession of Portugal to the European Economic Community (now European Union) was signed in 1985
Visiting the Hieronemytes Monastery is absolutely mandatory.
GPS coordinates: 38º 41' 52" N, 9º 12' 23" W