Results 1-10of 14 Reviews
by Liam Hetherington
Manchester, United Kingdom
May 11, 2010
From journal The Age of Discoveries
March 27, 2009
From journal Biding my Time in Belem
Townsville, Queensland, Australia
September 19, 2007
From journal Lisbon- Monumental Belem
by Jose Kevo
July 6, 2007
Los Angeles, California
January 7, 2007
From journal Portugal, Paradise on a Budget!
April 21, 2006
From journal A Quick Peek at Lisbon
by Owen Lipsett
New York, New York
September 9, 2005
The central figure within the complex tableau above the entrance to the monastery’s church is Prince Henry the Navigator (1394-1460), who masterminded Portugal’s rise as a maritime power by establishing a school of navigation at Sagres and by using the resources of the Order of Christ (of which he was Grand Master) to finance expeditions. It’s singularly appropriate that Henry, a devout Catholic who remained chaste his entire life and ran his navigation school as a virtual monastic order, should be honored in this way. (He is likewise given precedence at the nearby Monument to the Discoveries.) Just inside are the tombs of his two greatest intellectual heirs: da Gama (1468-1523), who established Portugal’s lucrative spice trade with India by sailing around the Cape of Good Hope, and Luís de Camões (1527-1570) whose epic poem Os Lusiados chronicled Portugal’s voyages of discovery and has come to be considered the country’s national epic.
The church is more than just a mausoleum (it continues to be used for mass), and the humbleness of these heroes’ graves is entirely consistent with the careful balance the architects struck between grandeur and intricate detail. The immense nave is split by six bulky columns that support its ceiling through a series of ever-finer branches of stone-work that strongly resemble palm fronds. They’re perhaps the best illustration that can be found of the Manueline style’s simultaneous reliance upon Gothic forms and further refinement of them by the addition of intricate stonework drawn from Moorish buildings.
Still more beautiful carving is on display in the magnificent cloisters (well worth the €3 entry fee), which I consider the most beautiful of their kind in Europe. The synergy between the architects’ subject matter and style is readily apparent as the curves within the delicate vaulting closely resemble the ropes, waves, and anchors that were the tools of the navigators’ trade. The rounded corner canopies offer the ideal places under which to stand and marvel at the delicately twisting series of arches that line the courtyard. Stepping back inside the church itself, the choir offers an excellent vantage point for appreciating its simultaneous spaciousness and intimacy.
If you see one church in Lisbon (or Portugal), this should be it!
Further information http://www.mosteirojeronimos.pt
From journal Lovely, Languorous Lisbon
June 30, 2004
From Praca da Figuera right across from the Carris kiosk is the stop for Tram # 15 to Belem. You can’t miss it as it’s two trams connected with each other to accommodate the locals as well as tourists who want to explore the suburb from which the Portuguese caravels set out for Brazil and India and the Far East. The trip takes about 15-20 minutes and you alight in front of a massive, gleaming white building that your camera cannot capture all of. On this site Prince Henry the Navigator built a little chapel for departing sailors that Vasco da Gama visited the night before his voyage to the Indies. To celebrate that voyage’s success, in 1502 Manuel I ordered this church and monastery to be erected. This World Heritage Site has elements of Gothic and Renaissance styles since it took about fifty years to complete , but its dominant style is Manueline, Portuguese Gothic, named for Dom Manuel I..
This monastery church is the site of royal tombs, but primarily celebrates da Gama’s global accomplishment-navigation of a sea route to India. From that accomplishment flowed the spices of the Orient that were taxed to fund the erection of this huge complex. Diogo de Boitaca, an architect supreme of the ropy, sea-going motif twists and turns so characteristic of Manueline, was the first architect.
Appropriately, its western wing that houses at its end the marvelous Museu da Marinha and the church itself exalt the maritime mastery this little nation attained in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
As you enter the church, tombs on your left and right immortalize Vasco da Gama and Luis de Camoes, the poet whose epic Lusiads praised da Gama’s achievement. A sculpture effigy of each man (emphasizing how small of frame and stature they were) adorns their biers. Appropriately da Gama’s tomb is embellished with nautical symbols, whereas Camoes’ displays a musical lute, often an accompaniment to the recitation of verse in his time.
Surprising to me were the paintings (in various stages of restoration) that surrounded the walls and ceiling of the main altar. Stained glass and windows in general are few in this dark interior so that taking photos is problematic. Not dark is the choir loft and upper vaulting, both of which are aesthetically striking. The fan vaulting over the nave is spectacular. Columns in the loft are slender and graceful, almost vine-like.
In contrast the main floor columns are staunchly large and round, though both kinds of columns have no surface undecorated with ships, coral, anchors, and rope-like filaments. The stained glass windows are vibrantly colorful;, the Madonna and child window photo shows these sacred figures with facial features characteristically Portuguese. A monument to Portuguese exploratory accomplishments, this church is a must see in Belem
From journal Old Lisbon
Cinnaminson, New Jersey
May 23, 2004
The monastery occupies a huge block in the center of Belem, and it can be seen from afar. It is a very large 16th century white stone Manueline construction with lots of spires, spiral plasterwork around the large windows and entrance with elaborate artwork of statues. The monastery used to belong to Augustinian monks until all the monasteries in Portugal were closed in mid-19th century.
You start the visit with the church with very tall ceilings covered with Manueline designs full of knots and rope-like designs, as are columns and window frames. Columns are truly amazing because each is covered in floral designs typical of the Manueline style. The walls are bare with stained glass windows surrounded by Manueline plasterwork. Chapels of North and South transepts have tombs of princesses carried by the elephants and around the altar there are tombs of several kings and queens including king Manuel I. The altar with paintings above the silver shrine is surrounded by the chapels covered in baroque gilded columns and statues inside each. The ceiling above the altar is covered with crosses and coats of arms. The stone work is what amazes you the most – the myriad of various designs on the columns and around the chapels is a true testament to human creativity.
When you go up to the second floor, you see the choir, which suffered the most in the earthquake of 1755 and was rebuilt in 1883. The dark wood choir stalls have wonderful carvings, and above them there are paintings of saints including St. Jerome.
Monastery has an amazing courtyard and cloisters which are impossible to describe to give them the full credit – arches on top of arches with column designs with floral and human designs – is to say nothing. Each 3 columns supporting an arch are unlike the next. The cloisters form a rectangular courtyard and on one corner you can see a beautiful lion fountain. All of the carving is a wonderful example of Manueline style, and the cloisters, to my mind, is the single most impressive and beautiful piece of Portuguese architecture and craftsmanship. This alone may be the reason to visit Portugal.
From journal Travels in Portugal - The Best of Lisbon - Part II
December 29, 2002
The monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Building, was begun in 1502. The main entrance is the south facade, which is practically a shrine glorifying Prince Henry the Navigator. The octagonal two-story cloister is justly famous for its original stylized use of rich details, many of which have a sea theme. The ribbed vaulting is impressive, and there is an eye-popping collaboration of Gothic, Renaissance, and Manueline elements. The rose gardens are lovely on a sunny day.
The adjacent Santa Maria Church is directly east of the more famous monastery. It houses the honorary tombs of explorer Vasco da Gama and poet Luis de Camoes near its entrance. Look up at the vaulting over the nave and aisles. The interior of the church is relatively somber when compared with the monastery.
The complex also houses the National Museum of Archaeology and the Maritime Museum. The Cultural Center of Belem and the Gulbenkian Planetarium are also near the monastery.
The Mosteiro dos Jeronimos in Belem can be reached by "super" tram 15 (from Praca da Figueira) or by local train (on the Cascais line from Estacao Cais do Sodre). Note that the Carris/Metro transportation passes do not cover rides on the local Cascais train line. There is an admission fee to see the cloister (closed Mondays), but not the church.
From journal Bill in Portugal - LISBON