The Arrábida Monastery looks like a small village, hidden in the hills. Founded in 1542 by Friar Martinho de Santa Maria, a Castilian Franciscan who was granted the land by the first Duke of Aveiro, belongs, since 1990, to the Fundação Oriente that is committed to maintain the values that, in the 16th century, had led to grant the land to the Franciscans.
When arriving to the gate you don't see much, but going down the road we entered a place from other times. Couldn't help imagining how would be the live of the monks that inhabited it. All started in the Old Monastery (located on the uppermost part of the hillside) that consisted of four chapels, a series of shrines on the mystery of Christ’s Passion and some cells hewn out of the rocks. There was already a shrine where the monastery was founded that was a destination of major pilgrimages. It was there that 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.
Then they move to the new monastery that grow up to be a labyrinth of whitewashed walls and decorated fountains and arches. The small cels with no comfort whatsoever were house the monks who have made poverty vows. Eating scarcely and wearing tatters, they hardly ever speak to each other and devoted their lives to prayer. Truth or not, is told the some time a vicar complained that they were not properly dressed as their habits were too colorful. In fact, as the cloths rips apart the monks would mend it with whatever fabric they put their hands adding the colors available.
The visit is full of interest for the place, the magnificent view and the colorful stories that Mr. Quirino, who works in the covent for more than 20 years will share with you as he guides the tour. He won't give that much time for photos but he surely knows the place inside and out.
Tours of the Convent take place on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Advanced booking is required. You can combine the visit to the convent with drive to Portinho da Arrábida.
Convento da Arrábida
Phone: (351) 21 219 76 20/21 219 76 28
Opening Hours and Ticket Prices:
Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Advanced booking is required.
Adults - 5 € | Children under 6 - free | Students and Seniors - 3 € | Groups over 15: € 3 / visitor