Classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Monastery of Alcobaça is the general agent responsible for the city’s fame, as well as one of the most beautiful testimonies of Cistercian architecture throughout Europe.
Monastery of Alcobaça
The Monastery of Alcobaça was built in the 12th century by monks of the Cistercian Order, and it is one of the first monasteries in the country. In 1147, King Afonso Henriques bestowed the lands of Alcobaça to this religious Order for their participation in the conquest of Santarem and Lisbon, where they began construction of the monastic foundation.
The Monastery of Alcobaça was the first building of Gothic architecture in Portugal; a model which was only reproduced centuries later, and which is considered as one of the most important Cistercian abbeys in the whole of Europe.
Also known as the Royal Abbey of Santa Maria of Alcobaça, this Monastery holds valuables such as the vestry door from the Manueline period; the reliquary chapel filled with gilded interstices in the polychrome terracotta reliquary busts; or the Gothic tombs of Prince Pedro and Ines de Castro who lived what is known to many as the greatest Portuguese love story. The Monastery of Alcobaça is sought after by lovers, and they say that whoever vows loyalty to such love before these tombs will be granted eternal love.
OTHER POINTS OF INTEREST
Castle of Alcobaça
No one knows exactly who built the Castle of Alcobaça. Some defend that it were the Goths, while others claim the Romans. It is known that the Castle already existed at the time of the Christian Reconquest.
The Castle was subjected to many works throughout the centuries; however, the violent earthquakes of 1329 and 1755 destroyed it. Today, only ruins remain from one of the most important defence fortifications in the 12th century. It is, however, worth going up to see the view of the city.
Cistercian Hydraulic System
Located about one mile away from the Monastery is the hydraulic system whose purpose was to carry water to this monastic foundation.
Placed in the old wine lodge belonging to Jose Raposo de Magalhaes, Alcobaça’s Wine Museum seeks to develop and broadcast the region's culture.
In the museum, you get to travel between the artisan production of wine and the end of the 20th century, when the wine was produced there using the most refined techniques of the time. The old wine lodges, which were transformed into a museum, give the space a cultural dimension that is unique in the region.
The museum’s collection comprises 8500 pieces relating to ethnology, oenology, traditional technology, industrial archaeology, and graphic, plastic, and decorative arts.