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The Arrábida Monastery was built in the 16th century and consists of the Old Monastery (located on the uppermost part of the hillside), the New Monastery (halfway down), the Garden and the Bom Jesus Shrine, set in the property’s 25 hectares. In addition, there are the adjacent but separate quarters of the Duke of Aveiro and the houses where the pilgrims stayed.
The Old Monastery, which stands at the highest point of the Arrábida hills, consists of four chapels, the series of shrines on the mystery of Christ’s Passion and some cells hewn out of the rocks.
The monastery was founded in 1542 by Friar Martinho de Santa Maria, a Castilian Franciscan who was granted the land by D. João de Lencastre (1501-1571), the first Duke of Aveiro.
The Memória Shrine already existed where the Old Monastery now stands. This was a destination of major pilgrimages and also where the first four Arrábida monks (Martinho de Santa Maria, Diogo de Lisboa, Francisco Pedraita and St. Peter of Alcántara) lived for two years in cells cut into the rocks.
as masonry and flagstones, painted ceilings and gilded carved wood.

D. Jorge de Lencastre, son of the 1st Duke of Aveiro, continued the construction work and had a wall built to establish the property’s limits. Later, his cousin D. Álvaro would have a lodging-house built and planned the watchtowers on the top of the range that link the monastery to the bottom of the hills. However, three were left unfinished. D. Ana Manique de Lara, widow of the Duke of Torres Novas and D. Álvaro’s daughter-in-law, had two chapels built, while D. Álvaro’s son, D. António de Lencastre ordered the Bom Jesus Shrine to be built in 1650.

With the suppression of the religious orders in 1834, the monastery, cells and chapels found throughout the range of hills were sporadically pillaged and vast damage was caused as they were abandoned.
In 1863, the Palmela family purchased the monastery, but restoration work only started in the following century, during the 1940s and 1950s. Forty years later, in 1990, the then owner decided to sell the monastery and surrounding land totalling 25 hectares to the Fundação Oriente. This was, in his opinion, the only institution that would guarantee to maintain the values that, in the 16th century, had led his ancestors to grant the land to the Franciscans.