Jeronimos Monastery Cloister Lisbon

joancarroll

Fort Worth, United States

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Imagine the state of geographical knowledge in the 1400s! Heading out onto the oceans to discover lands beyond Europe was quite frightening. There was a humble chapel situated at the mouth of the Tagus River in Portugal where sailors spent their last night ashore in prayer before embarking on their frightening voyages out onto the Atlantic Ocean. King Manuel I, who ruled Portugal from 1495 – 1521, erected an elaborate monastery and church stretching 300 yards along the Tagus waterfront on the site of that chapel as a ‘thank you’ for all the discoveries made by early Portuguese explorers. It was financed in part by a 5% tax on spices brought back from India (“pepper money”). This cloister is the architectural highlight and is one of the most prominent examples of the Portuguese Late Gothic Manueline style of architecture. Today, one way to get to the Jeronimos Monastery in Belem (3 miles west of Lisbon) is to ride one of the traditional trolleys. We thought we’d kill two birds with one stone but…forget it! Every other tourist has the same idea so just ride one of the regular buses, you’ll get there just the same! The Jeronimos Monastery or Hieronymites Monastery is a monastery of the Order of Saint Jerome. It was classified a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the nearby Tower of Belem, in 1983. FUN FACT: When Portugal joined the European Economic Community, the formal ceremonies were held in the cloister of the monument (1985).

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