Worth-seeing

Too much to mention!

Maybe the main reason why the Costa de Prata is so renowned, is the huge number and quality of things to see and do.

The vast beaches, remarkable nature, special museums, historic cities and monastries, picturesque villages. It's really too much to mention but we try anyway.

Sub categories

World Heritages

World Heritages

No Less than 5 of the 14 Portuguese World Hertitage sites are located here

  1. Monastry of Alcobaça
  2. Monastry of Batalha
  3. Cultural landscape of Sintra
  4. Convent of Christ in Tomar
  5. University of Coimbra


11 Portuguese sites are on the Tentative List. This means the country has nominated these sites to be added to the UNESCO World Heritage list. You can find 2 of these sites in the Costa de Prata.

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Exciting caves

Exciting caves

Spectacular caves

In the nature park of Serra de Aire e dos Candeeiros you can visit several caves. All three give you a spectacular view below the surface of the earth. Some locations look extra special because of the stunning lighting. On a regular basis exhibitions are organised inside the caves.

These are the caves:

  • Grutas Alvados/ San Antonio
  • Grutas da Moeda
  • Grutas Mira d’Aire


The latter won the price 'Natural wonder of Portugal'.

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Special museums

Special museums

From Buddha to Dino

Not only the Costa de Prata offers many historical buildings, there are also lots of interesting museums and sculpture parks. Often surprisingly modern and multimedial.

Indoor museums, open air exhibitions, excavations, you name it and its there. How about dinossaur footprints or the impressive Buddha Eden park?

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Cosy markets

Cosy markets

A unforgettable experience

Going to a market in the Silver Coast is a experience not easy to forget; a big difference with the markets in the UK is that you can buy almost anything you want. Clothes (casual but also costumes) and shoes till tools, rugs, distilling kettles, horse saddles and living animals like chickens, rabbits and puppies.  

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Nature and Culture

Nature and Culture

To enjoy!

Both nature- and culture lovers won´t miss a thing in this region. Naturepark Serra d’Aire e Candeeiros for instance is 400 km2 large and a real paradise for hikers and mountain-bikers. The large amount of historical buildings and cities, de farmers markets, the (fado) concerts and museums making the Portuguese culture palpable.

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Marinha Grande: The glass centre of the region

Apart from the glass museum Museo do Vidro in the former residence of Stephens, where glass-ware of the 17th to the 20th century is on display, there are 2 more museums about the glass industry.

  • Museu Santos Barosa: Santos Barosa is the oldest glass factory of Portugal, and it's still in operation. There is also a museum at the factory, the collection shows how glass was made and used through the ages.

 

  • The Joaquim Correia museum is the former residence of one of the The Joaquim Correia museum is the former residence of one of the most prominent families of Marinha Grande. The house dates back from 19th century. and houses the artistic legacy of Joaquim Correia. He was born in 1920 into a family of glassblowers. He studied sculpting, first in Porto and later in Lisbon. He was a student of renowned artists such as Simões de Almeida (cousin), Francisco Franca, Barata Feyo and António Duarte.

The history of the monastry, a lovestory

The Real Abadia (royal abbey) de Santa Maria is in many ways the heart of Alcobaça.

It all started when King Afons I promised to give some land to saint Bernard if he would succeed in conquering the city of Santarém from the Moors. He succeeded in 1147, and in 1178 the Cistercians started building the monastry, and finished it some 45 years later. Soon it became the most important cistercian monastry in Portugal. Both church and monastry are originally gothic buildings. Later new parts were added to the monastry in different styles, like the 2 baroque towers.

Originally the complex was much bigger, but the earthquake of 1755, and the occupation by the French early 19th century, destroyed large parts of the monastry. What remained however is still a large complex, partly open to the public. A visit is certainly worthwhile, you can see things like the cloisters, the lavatory, the impressive kitchen, the dormitory, etc.

A lovestory

In the church lie the remains of Pedro I and Inês de Castro, each in their own tomb. Their love story is the most famous story in Portugal.
Pedro, son of Afonso IV, was about to marry the galician Constança. She arrived at the Portuguese court together with her maid of honour Inês. Pedro and Inês fell totally in love with eachother. This worried Afonso IV so much he decided to send Inês back to Burgos. Pedro and Constança got married, but Pedro could not forget Inês.

When Constança died in 1345, Pedro and Inês reunited, and the secretly got married. Together they hd 4 children. Afonso IV however still could not accept their love, and ordered Inês to be killed in 1355: she was decapitated by hitmen. Pedro was furious and wanted revenche. After his accession to the throne in 1357 he immediately ordered the hitman, who fled to Galicia, to be extradicted. After they arrived in Santarém Pedro demanded them to be tortured until death, and put their bodies on display afterwards.

In 1361 Pedro ordered Inês' body to be balmed, dressed as a queen, and put her on a throne next to him at the cathedral. All members of the nobility and the assembly were forced to kiss her hand, and by that Inês was posthumously crowned. Then her royal body was brought to Alcobaça and placed in a sarcophagus. On Pedro's command his own sarcophagus was put opposite of Inês so that when they both rise on judgment day, the first thing they see will be each other.

Life in the monastry of Alcobaça

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www.mosteiroalcobaca.pt

Palace is baroque heart of Mafra

In Mafra you can visit the Palacio Nacional de Mafra, a beatiful palace and monastry. João V demanded the construction in the 18th century, the profits of gold- and diamond mines in Brazil financed the construction.

This vast complex is among the most sumptuous Baroque buildings in Portugal.

The palace is open to the public, although only by guided tours. The tour through the palace takes about one hour, and gives you a good impression of the palace, convent and basilica.

The highlight of the tour is the very impressive Rococo library: 88 m long, over 35,000 leather-bound volumes. Besides natural techniques of conservation for the books, such as the lack of space between the wall and the book (so it doesn't create humidity), there are also a few bats that inhabit this library eating any insect that could destroy this invaluable treasure!

Portuguese writer José Saramago wrote a novel about the construction of the monastry: Memorial do Convento (Memorial of a Convent).

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Outside you can walk around the Tapada Nacional de Mafra, the king’s former wildlife and game reserve. It is a unique nature reserve, over 800 hectares in size, completely enclosed by a wall.
The variety in flora and fauna is impressive.

www.tapadademafra.pt

Monks founded monastry

The abbey dates back to 1153, the year in which King Afonso donated to Don Bernardo de Claraval large areas between Leiria and Óbidos. It was a wild and desolate area with plenty of water. It was located in a deep valley, 'where the sunrise was late and the sunset was early'.

Which made it an excellent place for monks, because this gave them plenty of time to pray and meditate. One of the 'rules' of the Order says that if there are (too) many monks in a monastry, 12 monks have to leave to found a new monastery elsewhere. So when monks from the monastery of Claraval (France) arrived in Alcobaça they found a deserted region, where only a few descendants of Portuguese Arabs lived.

The monks' work was not easy. They had to clear the land, fight the water, build dikes and divert rivers. The name Alcobaça is derived from the name of the 2 rivers that flow through the village: the Alcoa and the Baça.These rivers were very important to monastry life, and one of the rivers was diverted through the monastry so the monks had running water. On the side of the monastry you can still see the spot where the water was directed inwards.

Ingenious water system

The water system was, especially in that time, very ingenious. In the huge kitchen you can still see the huge basins where food was washed. By the way this is not the original kitchen: the kitchen, which is still there and is unique in its kind, was built later when many more monks joined the monastry. In the cloister you can see the door to the old kitchen. You can also see the old well in the center of the courtyard, and the fountain where the monks washed their hands before they had their meals.

A simple life

Deze vallei was des te meer een goede plek om een abdij te bouwen omdat het dichtbij de de Serra dos Candeeiros lag, waar goede steen voorhandig was. Maar eerst wachtte de monniken nog een zware taak. Om het klooster goede fundamenten te kunnen geven en te beschermen tegen overstromingen, moest de grond 12 meter verhoogd worden. Omdat de monniken gekozen hadden voor een leven van eenvoud, gebed en armoede werd de bouw van de abdij sober gehouden. Toch is de kerk nog gigantisch. De weinige versierselen die er zijn vonden hun oorsprong in de natuur. De pilaren zijn summier versierd met uit steen gehouwen afbeeldingen van o.a. palmbaderen, varens en manden, In de kerk zijn de beroemde graftombes van King Pedro en Inez de Castro. De hoofdrolspelers in het beroemde liefdesverhaal van Portugal. Dit verhaal is overal beschreven.

All the more this valley was a good place to build a monastery because it was close to the Serra dos Candeeiros, where good stone was available. But first the monks had to complete a daunting task. In order to give the monastery good fundaments and to protect it from floods, the ground level had to be raised by 12 meters. Because the monks had chosen a life of simplicity, poverty and prayer, the abbey was kept sober. Yet the church is still gigantic. The few decorations out there have their origin in nature. The pillars are meticulously decorated with carved stone palm leaves, ferns and baskets. In the church stand the famous tombs of King Pedro and Inez de Castro, main characters Portugal's most famous love story. You can read this story everywhere.

The monk and the egg

The monks were mainly involved in the exploitation of the land, and their spiritual development. They wrote and copied books and illustrated them. The room (The Scriptorium) where this took place is still visible. You can also visit the former dormitory (Dormitario). Hereyou can see very well the decoration of the pillars. They are all different.

Apart for the monks, there were also the so-called lay brothers. They worked on the land. And thanks to these people, the monasteries were so rich. They herded cattle, worked the land, sowed and reaped. In addition, the lands were leased to (poor) farmers. Often, the lease was paid with the harvest of the country and with eggs.

The story goes that in some monasteries there were so many eggs, the monks had to find a solution for the use of all the eggs. This was found in the making of pastries. Portugal is famous for its pastries. Every year in November a pastry festival is held at the monastry of Alcobaça. A better atmosphere and better cakes you can not imagine. But even if there is no festival, you can indulge yourself to pastries. Opposite the monastry you will find Pasteleria Alcoa, there you can taste all the cakes you want.

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