Why I Love Portuguese Architecture

I’ve gone missing for a week and I owe you a reasonable explanation – I’ve been traveling. A lot. Not every trip has been worth blogging about it – unless you want me to blog about day trips, bank meetings and negotiations! That was the case of my day trip to Brussels and to Paris, and my 3-day trip to The Netherlands. Ok, this last one was actually more fun than that – it involves argentinian steaks, coffee shops and a visit to the inside of a 10,000m3 liquid tank. But all-in-all, its still work (and there were no pictures that would go with my stories!).

This changed on Thursday, when I finally took off to Lisbon, Portugal – for pleasure!.

Looking back, I can’t believe that, having lived so many years in Madrid, I never took the chance to hop on a budget flight to Portugal. The country has so much to offer in terms of beaches and food, but also art and architecture.

Particularly the Architecture.

During the 16th century, portuguese architects developed a very characteristic style that marks the transition between the late Gothic and Renaissance. The Manueline style, named after King Manuel I, didn’t last long, but its exuberant and sumptuous elements have played an important role in the country’s history.

It was strongly influenced by Portugal’s Age of Discovery – the century during which the country discovered Brazil, established several trading routes through southern Asia and colonized selected parts of Africa. Its maritime strength and successful discoveries have been reflected in its ornamental style.

The Jerónimos Monastery in Belem, Lisbon, is one of the most important achievements of the Manueline style.

As I walked closer, I noticed the less obvious details that makes this building a piece of art.

Each of its towers is unique.

Its windows show the influence of the Far East and are adorned with maritime elements, such as the ropes that decorate this balcony.

Each of its portals is sumptuous and packed with elaborated elements and figures.

I couldn’t stop looking at it – always hoping to discover something else! Did I visit the inside? No, I didn’t – and I somewhat regret this decision. In my defense, it was hot and there were more than 50 people queuing outside, so in case you’d like to check out its interior, I’d recommend to do so at its opening (10am).

In any case, while in the city, you shouldn’t miss it out (even if you’re not that into architecture), after all…

  1. The Treaty of Lisbon, which lays down the basis for the reform of the European Union, was signed in the Monastery in December 2007
  2. Five architects worked during more than 50 years on its design, ornaments and scultures, providing each of them different characteristics – some more using more Gothic elements, others rather Renaissance themes
  3. The Manueline Style was spread throughout the Portuguese Empire, reaching as far as Macau, China

Have you visited the Jerónimos Monastery or seen Manueline elements in former portuguese empires?

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22 thoughts on “Why I Love Portuguese Architecture

  1. I have never been to Portugal, but this makes me want to go there even more. I love that you explained the details of the architecture that we wouldn’t see otherwise. What an impressive place! Did you see other places that were similar?

  2. I was in Lisbon last year and also loved the architecture. It really surprised me, especially the details on the Monastery. I also regret not going inside, but it was hot and crowded. All the more reason to return!

  3. Great pictures! I’ve never been to Portugal, but hope I’ll make it there someday. Looks beautiful. And from the Portuguese food I’ve tasted in Macau (I know; random!), I think I would love eating out there too after visiting all the beautiful churches and buildings.

  4. Beautiful photos. I haven’t been to Portugal yet, but the more photos I see the more I really want to go. Glad that you got to do a fun trip after all your business trips.

  5. I’m going to be in Lisbon next week and I’m so looking forward to exploring this monastery (as well as the Azulejos museum, I love tiles)!

  6. It is really beautiful! We spend 2 days layover in Lisbon on our way back from the Azores in July and I am really looking forward to exploring this city more. Any more little travel tips on must see places to see (or more importantly, to eat??) 🙂
    Nice photos as well!

  7. How beautiful! Portugal really interests me. I wonder if Spanish would be enough to get me by…

    I´m glad you traveled for pleasure! You deserve it, expat life is full of papers and bureaucracy!

  8. I would LOVE to go to Portugal one day. I absolutely love their architecture…but not going to lie, would probably hit up the beaches just as equally, lol. The buildings look so intricate and unique. Love it. And great photos. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  9. Being portuguese I have to say you did Mosteiro do Jerónimos justice. It has indeed great architecture. Did you get a change to see Tour of Belem? and to eat Pasteis de Nata? (have no words to describe the flavor)
    Portugal has so much to offer from North to South, it is definitely a must go see before you die. 🙂

  10. Beautiful photos, as always. I love these photo essays! And I can’t wait to visit Portugal too. I was so sad to miss out on it the first time I was in Europe, I definitely intend to visit this time around.

  11. I’ve never been to Portugal but I’ve heard it was a great country to visit. And I can see why!

    The first picture is my favourite, especially with the clear blue sky. The architecture actually reminds me of some old Brazilian cities – makes sense I guess.

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