Jeronimos Monastery, Lisbon
We were in the Belem area of Lisbon; the very purpose was to visit Jeronimos Monastery! It is the resting place of Vasco da Gama, the first European to reach India by sea, linking Europe and Asia by ocean route. He accomplished his first voyage to India during 1497–1499.
Belem is Lisbon’s most monumental and historical area. It is 6kms west of Lisbon’s city centre and well connected with trams and buses. We spent one morning touring and sightseeing in this area. The experience could have been richer had we spent a whole day here. There will be more pics on this place in another post.
History of Jeronimos Monastery
It was founded in 1501, which makes it 5 centuries old! Walking in to it was like walking into a different era. It is huge and as I walked in the space above and around me made me feel like a tiny little thing. Jeronimos Monastery was founded by King Manuel I. The construction was funded by successful Portuguese voyagers around the world then. This monastery was built as an expression of thanks and gratitude to Virgin Mary for Vasco da Gama’s successful voyage to India. The project took one whole century to complete. With changing times, different kinds of architectural styles were adopted. The monument has a unique look with mixed architectural styles.
Interiors of Jeronimos Monastery
I can’t dismiss off the interiors by just mentioning the word “Impressive”. The word hardly justifies the grandness inside. The arch and the pillars are covered with elaborate, fine and delicate manueline work. It is so lovely inside and very peaceful. They are strict about maintaining silence inside. Photography is permitted but without flash. It is dark inside and found it a little difficult to get good captures. The ceiling is majestic with rib like structure running in beautiful patterns. The columns are incredibly done. Did they twist them like ropes, I thought! I really enjoyed seeing the details.
Tomb of Vasco da Gama
Jeronimos monastery contains several tombs but here I have the most famous one, that of Vasco da Gama. Vasco da Gama has committed several atrocities in India, yet in his country he is the most celebrated explorer. If you are interested in history like me you can read more about him in this wiki link. Vasco da Gama is credited for Portugal’s success as an early colonizing power. His third voyage to India was final one. He got infected with malaria and died in Kochi, Kerala in 1524. He was buried in St. Francis Church, which was located at Fort Kochi in the city of Kochi initially. Later his remains were returned to Portugal in 1539. It is said the body of Vasco da Gama was re-interred in Vidigueira in a casket decorated with gold and jewels.
The tomb is placed at the left of entrance. It is made of marble; they carved the likeness of Vasco da Gama in a ‘praying hands’ position. The place is so crowded with tourists. We had to cooperate among ourselves so as to not enter the frame of photographers capturing the tomb.