The Jerónimos Monastery (in Portuguese Mosteiro dos Jerónimos), one of the most famous and most visited monuments of Lisbon is not just an exceptional architectural work, but also an important symbol of the Portuguese identity and culture.
This masterpiece of Manueline style, a unique Portuguese artistic movement that melts late-gothic elements with renaissance elements. The monastery was founded by order of King Don Manuel I near the exact place where Henry the Navigator -played a key role in the overseas ventures of Portugal – built a church dedicated to Santa Maria de Belém.
This monument, just like many other famous attractions around Belém, is a celebration in honor to the maritime ventures that brought endless treasures to Portugal, in particular the journey that brought Vasco da Gama to the Indies.
The Jeronimos Monastery seduces its visitors thanks to its rich decorations, the extraordinary contrast of the stone facade with the blue sky of Lisbon, its carved gates and its monumental cloister.
It was built in 1502 by the architect Diogo Boytac and it was dedicated to Saint Jerome, protector of the sailors. Many Portuguese, French, and Spanish artists worked on the project.
The Jerominos order was dissolved in 1833; since then and until 1940 the monastery was used as a school and orphanage. In 1907 it was declared national monument and in 1983 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
During its five centuries of history the monastery attracted poets, navigators, kings, and artists. It has been a burial place for nobles and explorers: today it is one of Lisbon’s most popular tourist attractions.
One hour and a half is enough to visit the monastery; however, we recommend to take your time. Here come some of the main attractions of the monastery.
The Church of Santa Maria, built in gothic style, is a Latin cross building with three aisles of equal hight joined by a ceiling supported by six columns; a soft light comes through the windows.
The church is home to the tombs of the explorer Vasco da Gama and the poet Luís Vaz de Camões. The choir is very precious too, with finely curved wooden seats.
The cloister of the Jeronimos Monastery is probably the main attraction of the monastery; one of the most beautiful cloisters of Europe. It has a square shape (55 m x 55 m), and it has two orders of double-arched windows along the sides.
It is a triumph of Manueline decorations, featuring a gold-coloured limestone from Alcantara which shapes beautiful golden reflects agains the warm light of the sun.
Take all the time you need to admire the extraordinary beauty of the cloister. Look for imaginary creatures carved in the upper corbel as well as for other symbols, like the armillary sphere, and the cross of the Military Order.
The cloister overlooks the refectory and the chapter house. The upper colonnade is connected to the church choir.
Take a moment to observe the gates, which are richly carved and decorated.
The entrance portal, although it is smaller compared to the south portal, is the most important one; it is symbolically oriented towards east and it represents the access to the church. It is perfectly in line with the main altar. It was designed by Boitaca and realized by Nicolau Chanterenne in 1517.
On both sides of the portal there are the statues of King Manuel I and Saint Jeronimo to the left, and of King Manuel I and Queen Maria and Saint John the Baptist to the right.
On the upper part it is possible to note three niches with statues featuring the Annunciation, the birth of Christ, and the adoration of the Magi.
It is hard to believe that – technically speaking – the South portal is just a secondary entrance. Its magnificent decorations make it the most impressive element of the entire facade.
The central figure represents Our Lady of Belém holding the Baby. On one of the two twins portals, it is possible to note the statue of Henry the Navigator wearing his knight armor. The statue of the archangel Michael dominates the whole composition.
The Jeronimos Monastery is one of the most visited attractions in Lisbon and to visit it you need to buy an entrance ticket or Lisboa Card. However, we recommend you visit it at off-peak times, i.e. early in the morning or late in the afternoon.
Due to the large number of visitors to the Monastery, it is recommended that you book your tickets in advance online by clicking on the box below. Choose this option if you do not intend to purchase the Lisboa Card.
The Jeronimos Monastery is included in the Lisboa Card, the tourist card that allows free or discounted admissions to the most famous monuments and museums of the city, as well as the unlimited use of public transports. If you are planning to visit several monuments and to move by public transport, then the Lisboa Card is your most convenient solution.
The Jeronimos Monastery is open every day, except Monday, with the following opening hours:
Last admission is permitted up to 15 minutes before the daily closing time.
The Jeronimos Monastery is located in the Belém district and it can be reached from the center of Lisbon by taking tram 15, the metro, and several buses.
City Card allow you to save on public transport and / or on the entrances to the main tourist attractions.