8 Things to Know Before Visiting the Jerónimos Monastery

View of the Jerónimos Monastery from the Belém Garden
View of the Jerónimos Monastery from the Belém Garden | © lapping / Pixabay
Nina Santos

No trip to Lisbon is complete without visiting Belém and the Jerónimos Monastery, a 500-year-old architectural masterpiece with a history as impressive as its sheer physical size. Together with the Belém Tower, this landmark represents an important era in the country’s historical timeline and is a favorite place to spend an afternoon, whether touring the inside or simply enjoying the facade from the walkway in front. Here’s what you need to know before you visit this historical memorial to make sure the experience is enjoyable and memorable.

The monastery stands as a memory of the Age of Discoveries

Portugal’s King Manuel I gave orders to begin the monastery’s construction at the end of the 1400s at the place where navigator Vasco da Gama and his men spent their last night in Portugal before journeying to India, a trip that would later be recorded as the first of its kind from Europe to India via the Atlantic Ocean. It was built on the site of the Santa Maria de Belém church, and was a place where seafarers sought refuge and monks continued praying for and assisting voyagers after the monastery’s construction. Funding at the beginning of this project also came from a 5% tax on many foreign imports, meaning a massive amount of money was raised as a result of Portugal’s enormous success during the Age of Discoveries.

Looking into the monastery’s central courtyard

The recipe for pastéis de nata was developed here

Pastéis de Belém were originally created in the monastery by monks

It is a fantastic representation of a national architectural style

The monastery was built over the entire course of the 1500s, meaning that the architecture was influenced by the Manueline style (named after the same Portuguese King Manuel I who ordered the monastery’s construction). Inspired by the sea voyages, the decorative style incorporated anchors, ropes, and other maritime symbols, in addition to religious symbols. Gothic and renaissance styles also influenced the building’s construction.

The architecture can leave visitors speechless

It took 100 years to build

Construction began in 1501 and ended in 1601, and the monument was inaugurated in 1604. That’s quite some building project.

It is also known as the Hieronymites Monastery

The monks selected by King Manuel I to live in the monastery belonged to the Hieronymites religious order, so it was also known as the Hieronymites Monastery.

Many famous historical figures are buried here

The Jerónimos Monastery is the final resting place for King Manuel I and his family, as well as later members of the monarchs in the House of Aviz. Many famous Portuguese writers are also buried here, including writers Fernando Pessoa and Luís de Camões, as well as world-renowned navigator Vasco da Gama.

The tomb of Vasco da Gama

It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Due to its cultural and architectural significance, the Jerónimos Monastery (along with the Belém Tower) was classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.

1. There's an entrance fee to view most of the monastery, but the main chapel is free


The monastery’s entrance fee is €10, but there are discounts for children, seniors, and students. If you’re traveling on a tight budget, however, consider just entering the main chapel, which is always free.

Visiting in the winter will help avoid long lines.

Opening hours: winter 10 – 5:30; summer, 10 – 6:30.

Jerónimos Monastery, Portugal

landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Culture Trip Spring Sale

Save up to $1,100 on our unique small-group trips! Limited spots.

Edit article