The Jeronimos Monastery, also known as the Hieronymites Monastery, is a magnificent monument in Lisbon founded in 1501. It is said to be the greatest architecture of Portugal during the Age of Discovery and the perfect exemplar of Manueline architectural design.
It was in 1496 when King Manuel I asked permission from the pope to build a monastery as thanksgiving to the Virgin Mary for the successful voyage of Vasco de Gama to India. His request was granted and construction of the monastery started. It was mainly funded by the treasures from explorations in Asia, Africa, and South America.
The King initially named the building Mosteiro de Santa Maria de Belém. He invited the Order of St. Jerome (Hieronymites) to reside in it, thus, it eventually became known as the Jeronimos Monastery. The members of this order were known for being spiritually contemplative and intellectually productive. Aside from these, they also shared the political views of the king, which was perhaps the major reason why they were chosen to be the ones to dwell in his important project.
The monastery was damaged by the 1755 earthquake but not totally destroyed. A lot of restorations have been made since then. Until 1833, the Hieronymites stayed in the monastery. After that, the building became a state property and used as a college for Casa Pia, a children’s charity in Lisbon, until 1940.
The design of Jeronimos Monastery is a combination of Gothic, Moorish, and early Renaissance styles. It has elaborate sculptural details and includes maritime motifs. The south portal is the main entrance of the monastic church where the statue of Henry the Navigator is. The tombs of King Manuel I as well as other members of the Portuguese royalty are found here. Some important figures from their history rest here too, like Vasco de Gama and poet Fernando Pessoa.
If you are up to witness one of the greatest architectural masterpieces in the world, there is no doubt that Mosteiro dos Jerónimos is something you would love to explore.