Monastry Alcobaça

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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