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Exploring Alcobaca Monastery: Everything you need to know

What is Alcobaça Monastery?

Alcobaça Monastery, located in Alcobaça, Portugal, is an 800-year-old stunning example of medieval architecture and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Founded in 1153, the monastery is renowned for its impressive Gothic style and grand scale. Visitors can explore the ornate chapels, intricate cloisters and the tombs of King Pedro I and Inês de Castro, symbols of tragic love immortalised in Portuguese history. The monastery also houses a beautiful church with intricate carvings and stained glass windows, offering a glimpse into Portugal's rich religious and cultural heritage.

Quick facts about Alcobaça Monastery

  • Official name: Mosteiro de Santa Maria de Alcobaça
  • Location: Praça 25 de Abril, 2460-018 Alcobaça, Portugal | Find on Maps
  • Date of opening: 1153
  • Timings: 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM daily (October to March), 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM daily (April to September)
  • Architect: Juan de Castillo
  • Architectural style: Gothic
  • UNESCO World Heritage Site: 1989
  • Number of visitors per year: 6 million
  • Function: Historic monastery and church

Plan your visit to Alcobaça Monastery

Opening Hours

October to March - 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM daily

April to September - 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM daily

  • Last Admission: 30 minutes before closing
  • Closed: 1st January, Easter Sunday, 1st May, 20th August and 25th December
  • Best time to visit: Weekday mornings are usually less crowded, offering a more serene experience amidst the impressive architecture and historical ambience.


Address: Praça 25 de Abril, 2460-018 Alcobaça, Portugal

Find on Maps

Located in the charming town of Alcobaça, Portugal, the monastery is surrounded by picturesque streets and historic buildings. 

Nearest train station: Alcobaça Railway Station

Landmarks nearby: Castillo de Alcobaça, Mercado Municipal de Alcobaça, Town Hall of Alcobaça

What to see at Alcobaça Monastery?

The Tombs of Pedro I and Inês de Castro

King Pedro I and his mistress, Inês de Castro, are buried in the church transept, united in death. Legends claim Pedro crowned Inês queen posthumously, demanding court members kiss her hand.

Chapel of Saint Bernard

Displays the "Death of Saint Bernard" sculptural group crafted by 17th-century Alcobaça monks. Nearby are the tombs of Kings Afonso II and Afonso III.

Royal Pantheon

Portugal's earliest Neo-Gothic structure, housing tombs of queens Urraca of Castile and Beatrix of Castile, with smaller tombs of princes. Queen Urraca's tomb, adorned with late Romanesque decorations, is particularly noteworthy.


Manueline-style sacristy rebuilt after the 1755 earthquake, retaining grandeur. Access via a splendid rib-vaulted corridor adorned with Portugal's coat-of-arms.

Room of the Kings

Exhibits statues of Portugal's kings from the 17th–18th centuries. Blue-white 18th-century tiles narrate the monastery's history.


Once a communal sleeping space for monks, later divided into cells in the 16th century. Partially demolished walls in the 1930s.


Dining room where monks ate while one read from the Bible atop a pulpit embedded in the wall. Access to the pulpit through an arched gallery.

Cloister of Silence

Gothic cloister with intricate animal and vegetal motifs, built under King Dinis I's patronage. Features the Gothic Fountain Hall with a Renaissance water basin adorned with monastery emblems.

Kitchen of the Monastery

Constructed in the mid-18th century with a massive chimney supported by iron columns. Fresh water and fish channeled from the river Alcoa.

Chapter House

Central hub for monastery discussions, adorned with Baroque statues. Once hosted monks for daily gatherings.

Celas' Corridor

Atmospheric corridor once housing monks' cells, evoking a sense of reverence for their solitary contemplation and devotion.

Church of Alcobaça

Portugal's first wholly Gothic building, featuring soaring vaults, graceful arches, and stained glass windows creating an atmosphere of awe and serenity.

History of Alcobaça Monastery in a nutshell

Founded in 1153 by King Afonso Henriques, the Alcobaça Monastery served as both a reward to the Cistercians and a symbol of the king's authority. Built in the early Gothic style, the monastery church was the first of its kind in Portugal. By the 13th century, the monastery's influence reached its peak, encompassing religious, intellectual, and political spheres. Its wealth grew immensely with vast landholdings and involvement in various economic activities.

Over time, the monastery's influence waned, and Baroque elements were added to its architecture. The 19th century saw the departure of the monks and the conversion of the monastery into a national monument. Today, it stands as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a testament to its rich history and architectural legacy.

Who built Alcobaça Monastery?

While King Afonso Henriques played a crucial role in establishing the Alcobaça Monastery, the construction itself was undertaken by Cistercian monks under the guidance of master masons from the Order of Cîteaux. These skilled builders brought their expertise in Gothic architecture to Portugal, shaping the monastery into the masterpiece it is today.

Architecture of Alcobaça Monastery

The Alcobaça Monastery in Portugal is a prime example of Cistercian Gothic architecture, built between the 12th and 13th centuries. Following the Cistercian order's principles, it emphasizes simplicity, functionality, and natural light.

The monastery showcases the early Gothic style with pointed arches, ribbed vaults, and flying buttresses. Its bare stone walls exemplify the lack of decoration, with ornamentation limited to column capitals and stained glass windows. Large windows and high ceilings create a spacious, light-filled atmosphere.

The complex revolves around the church, the largest in Portugal, featuring a cruciform plan and tall, slender columns. Surrounding the church are the monastery buildings, including the chapter house, dormitory, refectory, and cloister, all adhering to the simpler Gothic design.

While later additions like the Baroque Reliquary and Desterro chapels bring contrasting styles, the core of the Alcobaça Monastery remains a captivating testament to the beauty and simplicity of Cistercian Gothic architecture.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site

Alcobaça Monastery was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1989, acknowledging its outstanding universal value and contribution to humanity's cultural heritage. This prestigious designation recognizes the monastery's exceptional architectural significance as a prime example of Gothic architecture in Portugal. Moreover, the monastery's historical importance, particularly its association with the tragic love story of Pedro I and Inês de Castro, further enhances its cultural significance. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Alcobaça Monastery is protected and preserved for future generations to appreciate and cherish, ensuring its legacy endures for centuries to come.

Frequently asked questions about Alcobaça Monastery

What is the Alcobaça Monastery?

The Alcobaça Monastery is a historic medieval monastery located in Alcobaça, Portugal. It is renowned for its stunning Gothic architecture and rich cultural heritage.

Why is Alcobaça Monastery famous?

Alcobaça Monastery is famous for its architectural beauty, historical significance, and association with the tragic love story of Pedro I and Inês de Castro. Visitors can explore its exquisite church, cloisters and tombs.

What can I do at Alcobaça Monastery?

You can admire the breathtaking architecture, explore the cloisters, visit the tombs of Pedro I and Inês de Castro and learn about the monastery's history.

How can I get tickets to Alcobaça Monastery?

It’s best to buy tickets to Alcobaça Monastery online to plan your trip well in advance and skip the line at the ticket counter. Purchase your tickets here.

How much are Alcobaça Monastery tickets?

Ticket prices start from €6. Explore your options here.

Are there guided tours available at Alcobaça Monastery?

Yes, guided tours are available for visitors who want a deeper insight into the monastery's history and architecture.

Who designed/built Alcobaça Monastery?

Alcobaça Monastery was built under the supervision of many architects. However, the most popular name associated with its construction is Juan de Castillo.

When did Alcobaça Monastery open?

Alcobaça Monastery opened in 1153.

What’s inside Alcobaça Monastery?

Inside the monastery, you'll find the main church, cloisters, tombs of Pedro I and Inês de Castro, chapter house and more.

What are the Alcobaça Monastery opening hours?

Alcobaça Monastery is open daily from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM (October to March) and 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM (April to September). The last admission is 30 minutes before closing.

What is the best time to visit Alcobaça Monastery?

Weekday mornings are generally less crowded, offering a more serene experience.

Where is Alcobaça Monastery?

Alcobaça Monastery is located in Alcobaça, Portugal. The official address is Praça 25 de Abril, 2460-018 Alcobaça, Portugal. Find on maps here.

Is Alcobaça Monastery wheelchair accessible?

Yes, the monastery is wheelchair accessible, with ramps and elevators provided for accessibility.

Are there dining options available at Alcobaça Monastery?

Yes, there are dining options available nearby, including cafes and restaurants.

Is photography allowed at Alcobaça Monastery?

Yes, photography for personal use is allowed inside the monastery, but flash photography may be restricted in certain areas.

Is there a dress code for visiting Alcobaça Monastery?

Modest attire is recommended when visiting religious sites like Alcobaça Monastery.

What other attractions are near Alcobaça Monastery?

Nearby Attractions include the Castillo de Alcobaça, Mercado Municipal de Alcobaça and the Town Hall of Alcobaça.