Alcobaça: Travel and tourism

ALcobaça Monastery: Chapter Room
ALcobaça Monastery: Chapter Room

Alcobaça grew around a Moorish castle and then a Christian abbey: between these two, a clutter of medieval looking streets and ornamented churches like those of Misericórdia and Nossa Senhora da Conceição remind us of its ancient history.

Being Portugal's largest church, the Mosteiro de Santa Maria de Alcobaça presents a simple and elegant medieval architecture: it was founded in 1178 by the Cistercian Order to fulfill the vows of the first Portuguese king, Afonso Henriques, to build these monks a mighty abbey.

Later, other monarchs embelished it, like King Dinis, who built the main cloister in 1308, exquisite but still preserving the simplicity demanded by the Cistercians.

The abbey has been declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage site and in it lie the richly ornamented tombs of the legendary lovers King Pedro and his murdered mistress Inês.

Their tragic story is famous: for reasons of state, the heir to the throne was forced to marry a Spanish princess, but he fell in love with a lady at Court, Inês de Castro. When his wife died, he went to live with her, but his father the King considered this dangerous and ordered her murder in 1355.

Upon the King's death, Pedro took revenge by having the hearts torn out of two of the killers. He then had Inês' corpse exhumed, crowned and forced the Court to kneel and kiss her hand.
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