The Jerónimos Monastery is - even more than the Torre de Belém - a symbol of Portuguese power and wealth in the 15th and 16th centuries. This beautiful monastery can't be left out on your list of sights to visit in Lisbon. Construction began in 1502 under architect Diogo de Boitaca. The base of the buildings is Gothic, but that would change fifteen years later under master builder João de Castilho. This made the monastery what it is today: a beautiful example of the so-called Manueline style, named after King Manuel.
The monastery stands on the spot where explorer Vasco da Gama and his crew were situated in 1497, before they undertook their journey to India. After this successful trip, King Manuel decided to build a monastery there. This was possible because the treasures from India - herbs and spices - brought in an enormous amount of money. Both Vasco da Gama and Manuel are buried here, as are King Sebastião and prominent Portuguese poets.
The decorations in the monastery almost all have a maritime theme. Above the main entrance there is a statue of Henry the Navigator, but he is by no means alone: to his left and right a whole series of other people are depicted in relief. The courtyard is surrounded by a double cloister which is richly decorated with Manueline decorations. It's probably for the best that the basic shape is gothic, otherwise the decorations would become too busy.
The west wing of the monastery is a Maritime Museum. Here you get a good overview of the naval power that Portugal once was. There are old sea charts and there are also many models of the ships with which the Portuguese discovered the world. Plus, of course, objects that the explorers brought back to Portugal.
A visit to Mosteiro dos Jerónimos can be combined with a visit to the Torre de Belém and the Monument of the Discoveries. For those who are going to cycle in Lisbon, these are three top sights you can visit by bike by following the nice (and flat!) route along the Tagus.
Website: Mosteiro dos Jerónimos
Address : Praça do Império
Opening Hours: 10.00-18.00 (October to April until 17.00)
Consult the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos website for up-to-date price information and opening hours.