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Alcobaça Travel Guide: 126 reviews and 464 photos

The 12th Century Monastery

----- from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia -----

Alcobaça is a municipality and a city in the district of Leiria, in Portugal, formerly included in the province of Estremadura. The city grew along the valleys of the rivers Alcoa and Baça, from which it derives its name.

The city itself has a population of 16.230 inhabitants.

The municipality has a total population of 55,269 inhabitants and a total area of 408.1 Km².

Concelho de Alcobaça Parishes:
- Alcobaça
- Alfeizerão
- Alpedriz
- Bárrio
- Benedita
- Cela
- Coz
- Évora de Alcobaça
- Maiorga
- Martingança
- Montes
- Pataias
- Prazeres de Aljubarrota
- São Martinho do Porto
- São Vicente de Aljubarrota
- Turquel
- Vestiaria
- Vimeiro

Alcobaça's History

A town that only became notable in the 12th century when it became the site for the construction of Portugal's largest church. In the month of March in 1147 the fledgling King, Dom Afonso Henriques, defeated the Moors by capturing the city of Santarém. As a suitable memory to this splendid victory he vowed to build a magnificent home for the Order of Cistercians. It took another 76 years before this task was completed. The monarchy continued to endow the Monastery of Alcobaça with further construction and 60 years later King Dinis built the main cloister but it was only in 1252 that the Monastery was inaugurated within the church.

In the church are the tombs of King Peter I and his murdered mistress Inês de Castro and with it the story of the tragic liaison between Pedro and his ever-lasting love for Inês. Forced at an early age by royal duty he had to marry Constanza, the Infanta of Castile. She died within a short time of the marriage ceremony and created the opportunity for Dom Pedro to escape with his true love and live in the city of Coimbra. King Afonso IV his father, believing that the family of Inês to be a threat to his own kingdom had her murdered. Shortly after the death of his father Dom Pedro declared that he had married Inês in a prior secret ceremony in Bragança, promptly taking revenge on the killers in a very gruesome manner and exhumed her body. He presented the embalmed corpse at court with a crown on her head and demanded that all his courtiers kneel and individually pay homage to her decomposed hand. Today, their ornate tombs face each other so that on Judgment Day his first sight would be of his beloved Inês.

During the following centuries the monks from this monastery had an influencing effect on Portuguese culture. Notably, in 1269 they were the first to give public lessons to their flock, and later they produced the authoritative history on Portugal in a series of books. In 1810 the invading French pillaged the Abbey taking with them most of the many treasures including a noteworthy library. Whatever the items remaining were then later stolen in 1834 during an anti-clerical riot and the extinction of religious Orders in Portugal.

  • Intro Updated Sep 16, 2006
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Reviews (9)

Comments (2)

  • cachaseiro's Profile Photo
    Jun 10, 2011 at 12:28 AM

    Good tips. I am going there myself today.

  • alza's Profile Photo
    Jul 22, 2006 at 9:48 AM

    Maybe the Praça lost a bit of its old century feel with the renovations vs restorations, too bad. But I really enjoy these alfresco spaces too! Hope to go there one day :)

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