During my work trip to Lisbon, the electoral commission of Portugal treated us to a private lunch on the most beautiful hill-side monastery. Convento da Arrabida was the highlight of my entire trip as it gazes out across green hills, turquoise waters and white sandy beaches whilst clinging to the slopes of Arrabida mountains. Medieval hermits and Franiscan monks certainly knew how to pick a good spot to settle.
The monastery was founded in 1542 by the Franciscan Friar Martinho of Santa Maria. He was later joined by Diogo of Lisbon, Francisco Pedraita and St Peter of Alcantara all of whome spent the first two years living in cells. Not gunna lie – but as I peered through the different cells and communal areas, I can just imagine the monks inner battle with cell envy as rooms definitely varied in size and views. The complex gradually expanded down the hillside to form a collection of cells, corridors and communal spaces. The community remained here until the 19th century.
As this was the first monastery ive been to, I noticed the values of simplicity and austerity that was evident in the features. They just used whatever available materials they had to decorate the monastery – from broken crockery and shells to green and brown glass to decorate trees. There were also some freaky skulls but no idea who they belonged to (and why they are still there).
At the end of the tour, we had some lovely cheese and crackers and other delicious snacks. We chatted with electoral commission officials before headed back to the coach.
Do you have any questions about travelling to Lisbon or visiting this monastery that i didn’t answer? Be sure to leave them in the comments and i’ll get back to you as quickly as possible! 🙂
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