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How to get to the Jerónimos Monastery
A visit to the Jerónimos Monastery, or Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, is on the wish list for many travellers that come to Lisbon. The monastery is located in the parish of Belém, and the official name is Mosteiro de Santa Maria de Belém. Belém is easily reached by train, tram and bus. From Cais de Sodré, you can take the train towards Cascais and exit the train in Belém. It’s the quickest way, and the train brings you to Belém in less than 10 minutes.
The bus and tram stop very close to the monastery. The tram ride takes about 30 minutes and can be crowded. You can take Tram 15 or bus 727, 28, 729, 714 and 751. You can even arrive by boat if you come from the southern shores of the Tagus! Read more about the Lisbon public transport here or about the Lisboa Card.
A magnificent structure
Construction of the monastery started in 1502, close to the shore of the Tagus River. The complex was commissioned by King D. Manuel I, and the Monastery of the Hieronymites was donated to the monks of Saint Hieronymus. It was also built in memory of Prince Henry the Navigator, and the monastery is symbolically linked to the Age of Discoveries. After 100 years, the construction was completed.
The Hieronymites were meant to pray for King Manuel’s eternal soul and to be spiritual assistance to navigators that left from the Tagus shore. The profits made in the spice trade with the East were actually used to pay for the building. The monks stayed until 1833, until the monastery was abandoned. Next to the monastery, you can visit the Maritime Museum and the National Archaeology Museum.
The former monastery is a fantastic example of the late Portuguese Gothic Manueline style, and the building is covered with ornaments and decorations. You’ll spot natural elements but also religious and royal symbols. Along with the Tower of Belém and the monument Padrão dos Descobrimentos, the monastery has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983.
Several sculptors worked on the ornaments that were carved in limestone. The gold-coloured limestone came from a quarry in the nearby Ajuda, Tercena, the valley of Alcántara, and Rio Seco. During the earthquake in 1755, the Jerónimos Monastery wasn’t heavily damaged, but the building has had several restorations throughout the centuries.
Within the monastery, there are several important graves to discover. The remains of the poet Luís de Camões, writer Fernando Pessoa, and explorer Vasco de Gama are buried in tombs which you can find at the entrance of the monastery’s church.
After the restoration of Portuguese Independence in 1640, the monastery became a burial place for the royal pantheon. In 1855 some of these tombs were relocated to the Monastery of São Vicente de Fora. You can visit the graves in the Royal Pantheon of the House of Bragança.
Pastéis de Belém
The Jerónimos monks were also responsible for the fantastic tasting and famous custard tarts! The real Pastéis de Belém has, therefore, its origins in the monastery. Next to the monastery was a sugar cane refinery. When during the liberal revolution, all convents and monasteries in Portugal had to close; the monks needed a way to survive.
Sooner or later, someone at the monastery started to offer sweet pastries for sale, and that pastry became known as Pastéis de Belém! Therefore these delicious pastries originated within the walls of the monastery. The ancient secret recipe is still used today, and as a result you might notice a taste different from other pastries you’ve tried before.
Fun fact: outside Belém, the pastries are sold as pastéis de nata. And pastéis is the plural of pastel, a singular cake.
The Jerónimos Monastery is closed on Monday but open all other days between 9:30 am to 6:00 pm. You can buy tickets at the monastery until 5:00 pm; the last entry is at 5:30 pm. The monastery is closed on January 1st, and religious holidays like Easter and Christmas.
There is no strict dress code, but as with any church or monastery, you might want to cover up a little. Therefore, please cover your shoulders and be mindful about your out outfit.
If you want to visit just the church, you can do so for free. If you want to see the monastery and the cloisters, you’ll need a ticket. The entrance fee is €11.50, and it’s free with the Lisboa Card. If you want to visit the National Archaeology Museum also, you can buy a combo ticket.
With the Lisboa Card, you can also use the public transport system for free. On top of that, you’ll have access to many more monuments and sights, such as Torre de Belém, the Santa Justa Lift and 35 other places of interest.
The queue to buy a ticket can be long. You’ll find ticket machines towards the lefthand side of the monastery’s main entrance, which is not always clearly signposted. The machines are also not the most straightforward, and getting your ticket online or using the Lisboa Card is recommended. This way, you can walk straight over to the main entrance and skip the long queue. Buy your tickets below to save time! Children aged 0-12 can enter for free.
What else do to in Belém
Of course, you can’t miss visiting the famous pastry shop to taste an original Pastéis de Belém! Aside from this culinary highlight, they have many other tasty options, and it’s well worth trying a few sweet or hearty snacks.
Along the Tagus, you can visit the Torre de Belém and the monument Padrão dos Descobrimentos. If you like to visit a museum, then the Popular Art Museum and Museu Coleção Berardo are highly recommended. The MAAT, or Museu de Arte, Arquitetura e Tecnologia, and the National Coach Museum are also within walking distance. After a day of sightseeing, you can end your visit to Belém with an unforgettable sunset cruise on the river Tagus. Check this guide not to miss anything in Belém!
Where to stay
With so many sights in Belém, it might be an idea to spend the night here. Furthermore, Belém is a much-loved area to stay in, and Lisbon city centre and the beaches are within reach.
This makes me miss Lisbon and crave pastel de nata haha. Great guide that explains everything you should know before visiting Jeronimos Monastery! Well done!
Thank you so much Lasma!
Jeronimo’s monastery looks like a very special place to visit. I’m adding it to my wish list for my trip to Portugal. I hope I’ll be able to go there soon. Thanks for the helpful tips!
Ah! I’m so happy to hear that. Let me know if you’re ever in the city!
My husband fell in love with Lisbon (and we can’t wait to return). We will be visiting in 3 months and I look forward to a few pastéis de nata! Thanks for all of this great information!
Ooooh that’s amazing Tanya! Let me know when you’re in the city!
Fantastic post. I would love to visit this monastery next time I go to Lisbon. I was actually planning on visiting it when I was last there and got side-tracked by a Bansky exhibition and therefore ran out of time. It looks gorgeous!
I can imagine Bansky sidetracked you! Maybe next time you can have a look inside the monastery!
This monastery is a must-visit in Lisbon. It is such a beautiful space, I could sit there for hours. Thanks for writing this piece… I must say I used it as a guide for my visit to the monastery.