The Alcobaa Monastery is the first Gothic building in Portugal and is located in the town of Alcobaa, north of Lisbon. In portuguese the monastery is called Mosteiro de Santa Maria de Alcobaa. This is one of the most important buildings in Portugal, being famous for its artistic and historical importance.
The history of the monastery began in 1147 when the first king of Portugal, King Alfonso Henriques, made a promise when he was battling against the Moors in Santarm, that if God would help him to win that battle he will build a great monastery. After winning and becoming the first king of Portugal he kept his promise and built The Alcobaa Monastery. Besides his promise, this new construction was also a part of his strategy to promote the colonization of the territories he had just taken from the Moors and to consolidate his authority in the new kingdom.
The construction of the monastery began in 1178 about 25 years after the arrival of the Cistercian monks in Alcobaa region and it was finished in 1252. Even if the original construction contains only elements from the gothic style, in the 18th century the exterior of the Alcobaa Monastery was modified when the architect Joo Turriano added two flanking towers and statues by its main entrance and so the monastery became a mixture of styles. The interior design of this monastery is in accordance with the Cistercian principle and the decoration which is minimal lets the eye to focus on the vertical lines soaring to the roofs.
In this wonderful place, The Alcobaa Monastery, besides the church you can also admire the royal tombs (where the remains of King Pedro I and his mistress, Ines de Castro lie), the chapel of Saint Bernard, the Sacristy, the Room of the Kings, the Royal Pantheon, the Sacristy, the Dormitory, the Refectory, the Cloister of Silence, the Chapter House and the Kitchen. For its size, history and purity of its architectural style, in 1989 the Alcobaa Monastery was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Nowadays the Alcobaa Monastery is one of the greatest monuments and the most visited place from Portugal because is still the largest monastery in the country and people are attracted by its enormous size and the magnificence of its architectural design.