Hieronymite Convent, Lisbon Mosteiro dos Jerónimos
In the suburb of Belém, parallel to the bank of the Tagus and measuring almost 300m/985ft, stands one of Portugal's most famous buildings, the former Hieronymite Convent. The convent complex originally stood on the water's edge. However, a gradual and natural shift of the river combined with the building of the harbor basin have meant that its once important proximity to the Tagus can now only be imagined.
Hieronymite Convent Map
Official site: www.igespar.pt/en/monuments/41/
Address: Av. de Brasília, 1400 Lisboa, Portugal
Opening hours: 10am-5pm; Closed: Mon
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), May Day / Labor Day (May 1), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25), Easter - Christian
Entrance fee: FREE
Disability Access: Partial facilities for persons with disabilities.
Transit: Tram: 15; Bus: 28, 43, 49, 51
Hieronymite Convent Highlight
Igreja de Santa Maria
The south side of the Igreja de Santa Maria (facing the Tagus, in the eastern part of the complex) is characterized by the richly decorated Manueline south portal. Both the portal and the filigree style balustrade, which forms the upper border, lessen the strong impression of the actually very compact facade. The octagonal cupola tower above the west portal also appears rather light due to the embellishments and the continuation of the eight corner pillars into little pointed towers. The cupola dates from the 19th C., before this the tower had a somewhat lower helm roof. The Manueline window decorations appear clear and less eroded. Considerably less decorative, however, is the external wall of the main chancel at the eastern end, which was only added in the second half of the 16th C.The south portal is the work of the architect Joao de Castilho, who also created the portal of the Igreja de Conceiçao Velha, which escaped the earthquake undamaged. Above the edge of the roof two projecting buttresses flank the portal. The central axis is interrupted by a window above both entrances. Two lions are depicted between the doors - they act as reminders of the heraldic animal of St Jeronimus. Above them Henry the Navigator can be seen portrayed as a stylized figure. In front of the window, at the true end of the archway, stands a figure of Mary, at the top beneath the main baldachin with the Cross of the Knights of Christ an angel holds the royal coat of arms. The reliefs above the two doors portray scenes from the life of St Jeronimus. A total of 25 figures have been erected between piers and pillars and below decorated baldachin, including the twelve apostles, kings and queens and bishops.The less impressive west portal is the work of the Frenchman Nicolas Chanterène. Depicted to the left next to the door are the founder of the convent complex, Manuel I, on his knees, and his patron saint, St Jeronimus. Opposite on the right is Maria of Castille, Manuel's second wife, and her patron saint, John the Baptist. Scenes from Bethlehem (Belém) can be seen in the tympanum: the birth of Christ - including two angels carrying the Portuguese coat of arms - and the adoration of the shepherds.The conscious synthesis of worldly rule and representation of Godly power stands out in the decoration of the south and west portals.
The three aisled interior of the hall church, chiefly the work of Joao de Castilho, conveys an extraordinary effect. From the west portal to the east choir measures 92m/302ft, the width 22m/72ft. The nave and the side aisles have a uniform height of 25m/82ft. The Gothic fan vault spans six slender looking pillars in the nave and two somewhat stronger crossing pillars. The dainty effect of the octagonal pillars is strengthened more by the fine embellishments which decorate them. The transepts, measuring 49m/161ft across, support the overall impression of spaciousness.The main choir, not added until 1571 and whose style assigns it to the late Renaissance, is most impressive. Corinthian and Ionian pillars as well as the clear, geometric arrangement of the paintings have nothing more in common with the opposing, almost playful effect of the decoration of the rest of the building. The Monstranz of Belém, a work by the goldsmith and playwright Gil Vicente, used to stand here - it can now be seen in the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga.The west gallery (reached via the cloister) offers a marvelous view of the interior. The organs on both sides date from the 18th C.Monuments to various famous people from Portuguese history are located inside the church. On the right next to the western entrance is the sarcophagus of the poet Luis Vaz de Camoes, who glorified the voyages of discovery of Vasco da Gama in his "Lusiadas". The sarcophagus on the right honors Vasco da Gama. Both monuments were erected during the course of the recollection of the "Golden Age". All the important symbols of that epoch - the Portuguese coat of arms, the Cross of the Knights of Christ, armillary sphere and a caravel - have been integrated in a Manueline style.In the transept can be seen the sarcophagi of various members of the royal family, including in the southern section the empty grave of the apparently lost, but still "longed for" King Sebastiao. On the left of the high choir the memorials to Manuel I and his wife Maria are borne by elephants, on the right rest Joao III, under whom the construction of the convent continued after the death of Manuel, and his wife Catarina.
Mosteiro dos Jerónimos - Cloister
Passing the west portal of the convent church we reach the famous cloister, called by art historians the "most impressive cloister in the world". Its importance lies without doubt in the pure Manueline decoration, which is only equalled in Portugal in the cloisters of Batalha and Tomar.The square garth - once laid out as a pond, now as a small garden - is surrounded by two story arcades, each of which measures 55m/180.5ft long. The lower story is the work of Diogo de Boytaca, the upper of Joao de Castiho. Extensive Manueline decoration has been incorporated into the moderate Renaissance site. On closer inspection armillary spheres, crosses of the Knights of Christ, the royal coat of arms and stylized plants can also be found here. In the northwest corner is the Lion Fountain - the heraldic animal of St Jeronimus - which once stood in a basin in the middle of the cloister. A monument to the poet Fernando Pessoa was erected in 1985 in the middle of the northern arcade. The transfer of his grave from Prazeres cemetery to Belém represented an acknowledgement of the most important 20th C. Portuguese writer, whose work only became famous after his death.
Mosteiro dos Jerónimos - Chapterhouse
The graves of famous people can be found in the former Chapterhouse in the northeast corner of the cloister. The poet and historian Alexandre Herculano (1810-77) and the writer and politician Almeida Garrett (1799-1854) are buried here, as well as the writer and first president of the republic Teófilo Braga (1843-1924) and the long serving president, Oscar Carmona (1869- 1951), who performed his duty from 1928 until 1951 alongside Prime Minister Oliveira Salazar with little influence.
Mosteiro dos Jerónimos - Refectory
The large refectory, the former dining hall, is situated on the northwest side of the cloister and is particularly striking on account of its 17th C. wall tiles and fan vaulted ceiling.
More Hieronymite Convent Pictures
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