Alcobaça Things to Do

  • Things to Do
    by J_Antunes
  • Things to Do
    by J_Antunes
  • Things to Do
    by J_Antunes

Most Recent Things to Do in Alcobaça

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    Rossio

    by solopes Updated Dec 18, 2013

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    Alcoba��a - Portugal
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    Once a gardened square, full of life (and cars), the square facing the monastery was transformed in a desert, with the intention to enhance the monastery. Locals complaint, commerce fades and discussion grows.

    Even the regular events in the square are different, more professional and less participated. Fortunately, the image and proportions of the buildings was preserved.

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    The cloister

    by solopes Updated Dec 18, 2013

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    Alcoba��a - Portugal
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    Not so outstanding as the one in Batalha, the cloister passes a sensation of peace and meditation, in its discreet simplicity.

    A fountain in a corner is a nice element and the interior garden is the only living element added to the elegant stone walls and pillars.

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    The Monastery

    by solopes Updated Dec 18, 2013

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    Alcoba��a - Portugal
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    Until recently the monastery was behind a controverted garden. Recent and expensive work replaced the garden by a even more controverted desert. But the monument is there in its untouched beauty. To know something about it let's read:

    "(...)Is one of the few European monuments that has managed to preserve intact an entire group of mediaeval buildings and its church is the largest early Gothic construction in Portugal. The history of its foundation in 1153 recounted in the eighteenth century azulejo panels that line the walls of the Sala dos Reis (Kings' Hall). As we ''read'' the story of these panels, we learn that D. Afonso Henriques, the first king of Portugal, promised St. Bernard his lands in Alcobaça if he managed to capture Santarem from the Moors, which did in fact happen in 1147. The statues of the Kings of Portugal - from D. Afonso Henriques to D. José I (in the eighteenth century) - stand on baroque consoles around the walls of the room. In the centre is a cauldron that is said, according to legend, to have been taken from the Castilians at the Battle of Aljubarrota.

    The building of the monastery began in 1178, as did the building of the abbey of Clairvaux, the headquarters of the Cistercian Order in France. Alcobaca is thus connected to the great civilising project that the white- habited monks began there: the public school, which was begun in 1269, and the use of the land for farming purposes, providing a genuine agricultural training ground, the fruits of which are still visible today.(...)".

    (Part of an excelent description that you may see at: http://www.manorhouses.com/unesco/whalco.html)

    In my other tips I will write about many more details.

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    Going East

    by solopes Updated Dec 18, 2013

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    Fatima

    Use the same exit of Alcobaça as in your north travel. A few kilometers after Aljubarrota turn right towards "Porto de Mos". Take your time to visit the castle, and proceed to Fatima.

    Some people visit the sanctuary in half an hour, some other in half a life. Depending in your time use, you may go a little further and visit Ourem and its castle. Anyway, lunchtime will be at Fatima, at "Tia Alice". Bacalhau is a must. After lunch (or before), if it interests you, visit the Dinosaur trail, 10 kms away, and go to the mountain zone. Visit one (or more) cave. The most known is "St. Antonio", the biggest "Mira de Aire" and my favorite "Alvados". Go south to Arrimal, and uphill to Casal de Vale-de-Ventos. In a good day you may see the ocean, 25 kms distant, and even farther, the Berlengas islands. Follow the ridge south, and descend to Alcobertas and "Salinas", an interesting place where they produce salt, 200 mts above sea level. From there you may return to Alcobaca through Benedita and Turquel (If it is not working hour stop and say hello)

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    Going south

    by solopes Updated Dec 18, 2013

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    Berlenga

    Leave Alcobaça towards Caldas da Rainha, and in Alfeizerão turn to S. Martinho do Porto (You may stop at Alfeizerão to taste the special "Pão de Ló"). Before or after stepping in the quiet beach, you may drive up to Facho, and see the sights. For lunch if the important is quality try "A Casa", just in the bay. Everything is excellent, but "Robalo ao sal" is special. For a cheaper meal you may go to Kais Restaurant. Proceed south, passing Salir and its dunes, and, through the hills, until stopping at Foz do Arelho. Watch the people bathing and grabbing shells at the same time. If bathing, you may need to swim, because the sand is very irregular.

    Take your time, but consider moving to Caldas da Rainha. There, the Thermal Spa and hospital (the oldest in the world) and the surrounding park are interesting and quiet.

    Ceramics and humour are married in Caldas da Rainha. Try to find by yourself the most typical piece of ceramics. When you stop laughing taste the "cavacas" and head to the museum of Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro, the creator of "Ze Povinho" (our Uncle Sam) and much more. Time to leave to Obidos, a wonderful town insida a castle. Spend the afternoon visiting the arts and antiques shops, climbing to the walls and towers to see the sights. Feeling tired is time to stop and drink a "Ginginha". For diner the "Pousada do Convento" or "Ilustre Casa de Ramiro" are excellent but pricy. If you prefer to eat in your way back to Alcobaca, "Sabores d'Italia" in Caldas da Rainha, is much more than pizza and pasta, but "Cortico", in Tornada, has a delicious wild boar steak and is cheapper.

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    Going Northwest

    by solopes Updated Dec 18, 2013

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    Paredes da Vitoria

    If you followed the western route to Nazaré, and have time to proceed, or if you have another free day, follow the road to Nazaré and at the entrance of town turn right to Marinha Grande and left to the Sitio, and, from there, follow the coast.

    The northern coast alternates between wide beaches several kilometres long, and small secluded beaches, with evidence to "Ursa" "Polvoeira" or "Agua de Madeiros". "S. Pedro de Muel", nested in the national pine forest, it's an interesting urban solution, and a good stop in your coastal observation (see my page).

    For dinner, drive a little further north to another beach, "Vieira de Leiria" and look for an "Arroz de marisco", a remarkable seashell rice, at "Solemar".

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    Going west

    by solopes Updated Dec 18, 2013

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    Nazare

    Nazaré (12 Kms west)
    Absolutely must see and stay a while. Leave early in the morning, go straight to the "Sitio", and enjoy the awesome sights. If it is summer or Sunday, you better leave the car there, and descend using the lift. If you risk bringing down your car, parking may become a nightmare. Try the signposted paid park.

    The crowds are not yet in the beach, so, if you caught the low tide, go straight to the rocks, in the north. Enjoy the healthy smell of salt and iodine, while the dying waves whisper at your feet. Notice the regularity of the waves, 7 small and then 3 higher, in a trustful sequence, while the small fragments of shell shine in the sun, dancing at your feet.

    Now the flocks of children are already there, and it's time to leave the confusion. Walk south, along the beach, watching the waves getting bigger, but always regular. Imagine the hard fisherman's life with those small boats, now in the harbour, until recently facing the waves in the beach, despite, sometimes, the rough condition of the sea, to catch the fish that was their life, and you still can see drying in the beach. There, in the southernmost tip of the beach, you will have the tranquillity to enjoy the sun, under a comfortable breeze. A swim is safe but chilly.

    Getting back to town, loose yourself in the narrow streets, trying to understand the strong differences between the locals and the other Portuguese. For lunch, sardines are good everywhere, and "caldeirada" uses to be also reliable. For anything different choose well your restaurant. "S. Miguel", centrally over the beach, is one of the best, in quality and location. For a cosier place, I like "Bartidor", in R. Alexandre Herculano.

    Going back up to the Sitio visit the church and chapel, and learn the legend of Nazaré. You may follow the road to the lighthouse and back, enjoying the sights, and seeing the difference between both beaches - Nazaré and "do Norte", where the sea is always wild and dangerous.

    Almost in the way, the Hotel Quinta do Pinheiro is a great option to sleep or to a different meal.

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    Going north

    by solopes Updated Mar 5, 2013

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    Batalha - Portugal
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    Leave Alcobaca towards Leiria, and, after 7 kms, stop a couple of minutes in Aljubarrota, to ear the funny story (not for 7 spanish soldiers) of the "padeira". Continue to S. Jorge, where you may visit the museum of the most celebrated battle in Portugal. Proceed to Batalha, and dedicate a reasonable time to the monastery (UNESCO heritage, and specially, my marriage place in 1979). I forbid you to miss the "Capelas Imperfeitas", a gem where you can see mixed four architectural styles. Take your time... It deserves it.

    Lunch time shall take you 12 kms north, to Leiria, but don't stop there. Proceed straight to "Marrazes" and enjoy the adventure of eating at "Tromba Rija". It's an overwhelming experience, sometimes requiring a previous reserve. If you have the misfortune of not getting a table, walk across the street to "Casinha Velha". You won't regret.
    Now it's time to go back to Leiria, and with such a powerful lunch, you are strong enough to climb to the castle. The views are interesting. Coming down, walk a while in the narrow streets around "Praca Rodrigues Lobo".
    The way back to Alcobaça can be done via Marinha Grande, where, with time, you may go to the excelent Glass Museum, in the center of town. Finnaly, 7 kms before Alcobaca, Atlantis is a superior class crystal producer, with visitor center and shops, close to the recently opened to the public beautiful convent of Cós

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    Mosteiro de Santa Maria de Alcobaça

    by Oleg_D. Updated Feb 16, 2013

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    The Alcobaça Monastery is one of the first foundations of the Cistercian Order in Portugal. It was founded in 1153 as a gift to Bernard of Clairvaux, shortly before his death, from the first Portuguese King, Afonso Henriques, to commemorate his victory over the Moors at Santarem in March 1147. The foundation of the monastery was part of the strategy by Afonso Henriques to consolidate his authority in the new kingdom and promote the colonization of areas recently taken from Moorish hands during the Reconquista.
    The building of the monastery began in 1178, some 25 years after the arrival of the Cistercian monks in the Alcobaca region. Initially, the monks lived in wooden houses, and only moved to the new stone monastery buildings in 1223. The church was completed in 1252. The finished church and monastery were the first truly Gothic buildings in Portugal, and the church was the largest in Portugal. The last touch in the mediaeval ensemble was given in the late 13th century, when King Dinis I ordered the construction of the Gothic cloister, the Cloister of Silence.

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    Mosteiro de Santa Maria de Alcobaça, part II.

    by Oleg_D. Updated Feb 10, 2013

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    Columns and walls are devoid of decoration, as required in Cistercian churches, and the interior is very brightly illuminated by rows of windows on the walls and rose windows on the main façade and transept arms. But that doesn’t mean church had no sculptures and icons. All statues and benches were used as the fire wood by the French troops during Peninsular War. A lot of the church property disappeared during the Civil War of 1820-1834. Anyway the internal structures of the church are still stunning the visitors. I was very impressed.

    The main chapel, like in Clairvaux, is surrounded by a gallery (ambulatory) and has a series of radiating chapels. The aisles are covered by simple Gothic vaulting.

    Opening Hours
    October to March
    From 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. (last admission at 4.30 p.m.)
    April to September
    From 9.00 a.m. to 7.00 p.m. (last admission at 6.30 p.m.)
    The ticket office closes 30 minutes before the Monastery’s closing time.
    Closed: 1 January, Easter Sunday, 1 May and 25 December

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    Mosteiro de Santa Maria de Alcobaça, part VII.

    by Oleg_D. Written Feb 9, 2013

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    The chapel of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux the famous Cistercian and instigator of the Second Crusade is located in the South side of the transept. It has a sculptural group depicting the "Death of Saint Bernard" made in XVII th-century. In each side of the chapel are buried Kings of Portugal Afonso II and Afonso III.
    Opening Hours
    October to March
    From 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. (last admission at 4.30 p.m.)
    April to September
    From 9.00 a.m. to 7.00 p.m. (last admission at 6.30 p.m.)
    The ticket office closes 30 minutes before the Monastery’s closing time.
    Closed: 1 January, Easter Sunday, 1 May and 25 December

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    Mosteiro de Santa Maria de Alcobaça, part VI.

    by Oleg_D. Written Feb 9, 2013

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    Royal Pantheon is situated in the so-called Neo Gothic Chapel. The entrance to Neo Gothic Chapel is in the South wing of the transept near the King Pedro tomb. The Royal Pantheon has the 13th century tombs of the Queens of Portugal, Urraca of Castile and Beatrix of Castile, married respectively to Kings Afonso II and Afonso III. There are also smaller tombs of unidentified princes. The most decorated tomb is that of Queen Urraca who died in 1220.

    Opening Hours
    October to March
    From 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. (last admission at 4.30 p.m.)
    April to September
    From 9.00 a.m. to 7.00 p.m. (last admission at 6.30 p.m.)
    The ticket office closes 30 minutes before the Monastery’s closing time.
    Closed: 1 January, Easter Sunday, 1 May and 25 December

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    Mosteiro de Santa Maria de Alcobaça, part V.

    by Oleg_D. Written Feb 9, 2013

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    Men at arms
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    OK, why the Inez de Castro’s tomb is so interesting for me and what kind of valuable information I receive from it’s bas-relief. OK! There are a lot of figures of men at arms carved on the tomb sides. That means any researcher of that period can see the appearance of Portuguese man at arms of last quarter of XIV. So, the Portuguese knights or “homen de armas” during the battle of Aljubarrota were looking like as the guys on the tomb. Thanks to unknown master!

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    Mosteiro de Santa Maria de Alcobaça, part IV.

    by Oleg_D. Written Feb 9, 2013
    The Inez de Castro's tomb
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    The Inez’s tomb is decorated with scenes from the life of Jesus Christ, including the Crucifixion and with the Last Judgment. And her tomb is much more interesting for me because it provides a lot of valuable information about the last quarter of XIV century.

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    Mosteiro de Santa Maria de Alcobaça, part III.

    by Oleg_D. Written Feb 9, 2013

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    The tomb of Pedro I
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    There are tombs of King Pedro I and his mistress Ines de Castro assassinated in 1355 under the orders of Peter's father King Afonso IV in the transept of the church. After becoming King, Pedro ordered the remains of his beloved to be transferred to her tomb in Alcobaça and, according to a popular legend, made her be crowned as Queen of Portugal and ordered court members to pay her homage by kissing her decomposing hand.
    Nobody knows who made the tombs of Pedro and Inez but they are among the best works of gothic sculpture in Portugal. The King’s tomb is supported by lions and half-men half-beasts in the case of Inez, and both carry the recumbent figures of the deceased assisted by a group of angels. The sides of Pedro's tomb are magnificently decorated with bas-reliefs showing the scenes from Saint Bartholomew's life, as well as scenes from Pedro and Inez's own lives.

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