The Monastery of Alcobaça

Jan 12, 2019Center of Portugal

Romeo and Juliet is the most tragic love story you know. Up till today! We are letting you in on the most beautiful yet tragic love story in Portugal. That obliges us to talk about Alcobaça Monastery, one of the most incredible buildings in our country.

Get ready to learn more about Portuguese history and the details of an epic love story.

Alcobaça was a deserted, fertile, frontier land, disputed by Christians and Moors, in the 12th century. The area was occupied and developed by Cistercian monks and the construction of the monastery started in 1178

One thing will catch your eye, the austere decoration of the Alcobaça Monastery.

Though it is a beautiful building, simple and with a special light, the church introduces big changes in architecture, decoration, and operational features.

Under the direction of Bernard de Clairvaux, a Cistercian monk and one of the most influential churchmen of his time, changes were introduced to promote austerity and restraint in the monks’ way of living.

This was already a characteristic of the monks deep mysticism and neo-Platonic approach. All imagery was abandoned, in a time when visual imagery was used to spread the Christian message as most of the population was illiterate.

As you walk towards the entrance, you notice the Gothic portal although the monumental aspect of the façade is a result of the Baroque reconstruction of 1725.

The love story between D. Pedro and D. Inês de Castro considered the most beautiful yet tragic Portuguese love story of all times.

Adding to that, Inês’ family – exiled nobility – became very close to the Portuguese royalty, as Inês’ brother became close friends with D.Pedro.

Afonso IV, D. Pedro´s father, disapproved of their infatuation and waited for it to wear down, but it never did. It grew stronger by the day.

When Peter’s wife died, the king, Afonso IV, banished Inês from the court, but Peter stayed with her and declared her as his true love.

The king wanted his son to remarry, though Pedro did not want to marry any other woman than Inês.

Pedro and Constance had a son, a frail boy, whereas Pedro and Inês’ children were healthy.

After attempts to separate the couple failed and, Afonso IV orders Inês death. Captive, in a monastery killers went there and decapitated Inês in front of her small children.

When D. Pedro heard of the news of Inês’ death, he sought the killers and killed them, publicly, ripping their hearts from their chests claiming they didn’t have one as they murdered his love.

Long story short – as there are intricate episodes of the Portuguese royal story in between -, Inês was later buried at Alcobaça’s Monastery. D. Inês and D.Pedro’s tombs are both in the Monastery, facing each other so that they can meet each other as they rise from their graves at the Last Judgement.

D. Inês grave has exquisitely sculpted scenes from their lives.

Alcobaça’s Monastery is not only a reference monument for those who appreciate architecture and history but also a mandatory visit for those who believe in true love and like romantic yet tragic love stories.

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