Social Icons


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Jeronimos Monastery

The Jeronimos Monastery or Hieronymites Monastery is located in the Belem district of Lisbon, Portugal. This magnificent monastery can be considered one of the most prominent monuments in Lisbon and is certainly one of the most successful achievements of the Manueline style. It is one of the famous tourist attractions and travel destination in Lisbon. In 1983, it was classified by the UNESCO, with nearby Belem Tower, as a World Heritage Site. More details about Hieronymites Monastery are explained below in World tour guides.

Jeronimos MonasteryThe house for the Hieronymite monks was built on the same site of the Ermida do Restelo a hermitage that was founded by Henry the Navigator at about 1450. The existing structure was started on orders of Manuel I to commemorate Vasco da Gama successful return from India. The Construction of monastery began in 1502 and took 50 years to complete. He used pedra lioz, a local gold coloured limestone for construction. The monastery was designed in the Manueline style by Diogo de Boitaca. He built the church, the monastery, the sacristy, and the refectory. He was succeeded by the Spaniard Joao de Castilho, who took charge of construction in around 1517. Castilho gradually moved from the Manueline style to the Plateresco style, a style with lavish decorations that remind of silver ware. There were several sculptors who made their mark on this building. Nicolau Chanterene added depth with his Renaissance themes. The construction came to a halt when the king Manuel I died in 1521.

The ornate main entrance to the monastery was designed by Joao de Castilho and is considered as one of the most magnificent of his time. This shrine-like portal is large, 32 m high and 12 m wide, extending up for two stories. It features, surrounded by an abundance of gables, pinnacles, many carved figures standing under a baldachin in exquisitely carved niches, around a statue of Henry the Navigator, standing on a pedestal between the two doors.

The western portal is a good example of the transition from the Gothic style to Renaissance. It was built by Nicolau Chanterene in 1517. This was probably his first commission in Portugal. It is now spanned by a vestibule, added in the 19th century that forms a transition between the church and the ambulatory. Diogo Boitac laid the foundations for this three-aisled church with five bays under a single vault, a clearly marked but only slightly projecting transept and a raised choir. The aisles and the nave are of about equal height in the manner of a hall church. Boitac built the walls of the church as far as the cornices and then started with the construction of the adjoining monastery.

Joao de Castilho, a Spanish architect and sculptor, continued the construction in 1517. He completed the retaining walls and the unique single-span ribbed vault, a combination of stellar vaulting and tracery vaults spanning the 19 m-wide church. Each set of ribs in the vaulting is secured by bosses. The bold design the transversal vault of the transept lacks any piers or columns, while Boitac had originally planned three bays in the transept. The unsupported vault of the transept gives the viewer the impression as if it floats in the air.

Work on the vast square cloister of the monastery was begun by Boitac. He built the groin vaults with wide arches and windows with tracery resting on delicate mullions. Joao de Castilho finished the construction by giving the lower storey a classical overlay and building a more recessed upper storey. The construction of such a two-storey cloister was a novelty at the time. Castilho changed the original round columns of Boitac into rectangular ones. He put Plateresque style ornaments on it.

Each wing consists of six bays with tracery vaults. The four inner bays rest on massive buttresses, forming broad arcades. The corner bays are linked by a diagonal arched construction and show the richly decorated corner pillars. The inside walls of the cloister have a wealth of Manueline motives with nautical ornaments, and European, Moorish ans eastern elements. The decorations on the outer walls of the inner courtyard were made in Plateresco style by Castilho. This ornamentation on the walls and the traceried arches of the arcades give the construction a filigree aspect.

Jeronimos Monastery InteriorJeronimos Monastery CloistersThe round arches and the horizontal structure are clearly in line with the Renaissance style, while at the same time there is also a relationship with Spanish architecture. The cloister had a religious function as well as a representative function by its decorative ornamentation and the dynastic symbolic motives, such as the armillarium, coat-of-arms, and the cross from the Order of Christ, showing the growing world power of Portugal.

In an extension, added to the monastery during the restoration 1850, is located the Museu Nacional de Arqueologia or National Archaeological Museum. The Museu da Marinha or Maritime Museum is located in the west wing. The church and the monastery, like the nearby Torre de Belem and Padrao dos Descobrimentos symbolises the Portuguese Age of Discovery and is among the main tourist attractions of Lisbon.

No comments: