Your How-to Guide to Visiting Jeronimos Monastery in Lisbon

One of my favourite cultural landmarks to visit in Lisbon is the Jerónimos Monastery.

It’s an architectural wonder, and let me tell you, it was incredible! I only wished I knew more about it before visiting it. That’s why I’m sharing this how-to guide to visiting Jerónimos Monastery- to help you plan your visit to this historic gem.

I will share details of what to see like the tombs of famous explorers, the amazing stonework and the beautiful Jeronimos Monastery Church. But also the very important details of:

  • Jeronimos Monastery entrance fee
  • Jeronimos Monastery hours
  • Jeronimos Monastery tickets
  • Jeronimos Monastery dress code

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Is Visiting Jeronimos Monastery Worth It?

limestone archway while visiting jeronimos monastery

Is Jeronimos Monastery worth it — without a doubt, yes!

This stunning monastery of Jerónimos holds immense historical and cultural significance making it a designated UNESCO World Heritage site. And because of that, you know you can expect to see amazing architecture that will leave you mesmerized.

As you step inside this dedicated Seven Wonders of Portugal, you will be greeted by a vast open space filled with natural sunlight streaming through the open-air arches. The cast of light and shadows from the stone pillars is any photographer’s dream, and quite possibly one of the best Instagrammable places in Portugal.

My best traveller’s tip is to get there as soon as it opens. Not only because of the light but also the crowds.

History of Jeronimos Monastery

tall limestone building with tower while visiting jeronimos monastery

The history of Mosteiro dos Jeronimos is also another reason to want to visit. There are two interesting points in time:

  • the early beginnings (1496)
  • the construction period (1496-1596)

Early Beginnings (1496)

By 1496, Portugal was deep within its Age of Discovery. Vasco da Gama returned from a successful voyage in which he discovered a direct ocean route from Portugal to India, which opened up the famed Indian Spice Route.

It was then that King Manuel I requested permission from the pope to build a grand monastery in Belém, steps from the Tagus River, as a gesture of thanks to the Virgin Mary who he believed had guided the voyagers safely. Permission was granted, and construction of the Jeronimos Monastery began shortly thereafter.

Construction (1496-1596)

The construction of this monastery took over 100 years to build.

However, a building of such grandeur would come at a high cost, and Portugal was not considered a wealthy country. So how did they receive the necessary funds? King Manuel I introduced a 5% “pepper” tax on commerce from Asia and Africa, but that wasn’t enough. Treasures from voyages to Asia, Africa, and South America were bartered for cash to allow for the construction to continue. 

King Manuel I invited the religious order of Saint Jerome, or Hieronymite monks, to occupy the monastery. They were expected to pray for the existing and future kings, as well as offer spiritual counsel to sailors leaving from and returning to Belém. The monks did this over four centuries until 1833 when the religious orders ended and the monastery was abandoned. 

The Architecture of the Monastery of Jeronimos

two tiered with archway while visit Jerónimos Monastery in lisbon

I am drawn to incredible architecture when I travel, no matter the style or period. If you are too, then this is another reason why this monastery is worth visiting.

The Jerónimos Monastery is widely regarded as one of the best examples of Manueline-style architecture. This unique Portuguese style combines Gothic, Moorish, and Renaissance.

The building’s façade is made of nearby limestone and extends for more than 300 m (or 985 feet). The main entrance to the monastery is massive! Standing at 32 m (or 105 feet) high and 12 m (or 40 feet) wide. 

It’s lavishly ornate, weaving in complex sculptural themes. Carved in limestone are nautical elements as a nod to the Age of Discoveries.

The 16th-century monastery is a shrine for explorers, full of maritime motifs like a rope wrapped around the columns and innumerable aquatic monsters, all recalling the period when Portugal ruled the oceans. 

An overwhelming sense of tranquillity overcomes you as you see the double-tier cloisters. The large square in the center features wide arches and windows with tracery resting on delicate mullions.

Be sure to visit early in the morning or late afternoon to catch the light spilling through the broad arcades.  

8 Things You’ll Want to See at Jeronimos Monastery

1. The Cloisters

archway letting light through to see is worth the Jeronimos Monastery entrance fee

The Cloisters is a beautiful example of Manueline architecture, characterized by ornate stonework and intricate details.

The Cloisters provide a peaceful oasis with its tranquil garden and serene atmosphere (if you get there before the crowds that is!) Take a stroll through the arches and enjoy the intricate details of the stone carvings.

2. Chapter House

light spilling through the long hallway with archways at Jerónimos Monastery hours in the early morning

The Chapter House is an example of Gothic architecture, with its soaring vaulted ceilings. The monks used the room for meetings and administrative purposes, but today you can appreciate the stunning architecture and enjoy the peaceful ambiance.

3. The Confessionals

two levels of archwarys at Jeronimos Monastery tickets to ensure you don't wait in line

The Confessionals is a unique feature, designed to provide a private space for monks to confess their sins to a priest. The small, set of 12 rooms with enclosed spaces are adorned with beautifully carved woodwork and provide an interesting glimpse into the spiritual practices of the past.

4. Tomb of Fernando Pessoa

The Tomb of Fernando Pessoa is a must-see for literary enthusiasts visiting Jeronimos Monastery. Pessoa was one of Portugal’s most celebrated poets and writers, and his tomb is a fitting tribute to his legacy. The tomb is simple but elegant, and visitors can pay their respects to the great writer.

5. Tomb of Alexandre Herculano

The Tomb of Alexandre Herculano is another notable site within this Lisbon Monastery. Herculano was a prominent historian and writer, and his tomb is located in the monastery’s beautiful Gothic chapel. The tomb is ornately decorated and provides a fitting final resting place for one of Portugal’s most celebrated intellectuals.

6. Refectory

The Refectory at Jeronimos Monastery was the dining hall for the monks and is another impressive example of Manueline architecture. The room is adorned with intricate carvings and has a stunning vaulted ceiling. You can imagine what it was like to dine in this grand space centuries ago.

7. High Choir

The High Choir at Jeronimos Monastery is a striking feature that should not be missed. The choir is located above the entrance to the monastery and was used by the monks for chanting and singing during religious services. The intricately carved stalls are beautiful examples of Manueline art.

8. The Church of Santa Maria

Jerónimos Monastery church with tall nave and wooden pews with stone pillars

Part of the monastery includes the church of Santa Maria. Nothing less than spectacular, the continuation of Manueline architecture is seen in the interior of this church.

One of the church’s most admired historical artifacts is the tombs of Vasco da Gama and Luís de Camões. Their highly ornate tombs bear all the symbolism of Manueline architecture – carved ropes, spheres, and other seafaring motifs.

How to Visit Jeronimos Monastery

large monastery in lisbon jeronimos monastery tickets

Jeronimos Monastery Entrance Fee

Jeronimos Monastery Church: free
Cloister of Portugal Monastery:

  • Adult: € 10 (Save money and buy the bundle and save money + Belém Tower, € 12 and Belém Tower + The National Archaeological Museum € 16)
  • Youth/Senior (65+): € 10
  • Child (less than 12 years old): free
  • First Sunday of every month: free
  • Free with 24, 48, or 72-hour Lisboa Card

Traveller Alert: Be prepared for long lines, especially during the shoulder and peak travel season. If you want to save time, you’ll want to pre-book your skip-the-line Jeronimos Monastery tickets.

Jerónimos Monastery Tickets

Pre-booking your tickets is the best way to get skip-the-line access which maximizes your time in Lisbon.

Jerónimos Monastery Hours

  • October – April: 10 am to 5:30 pm
  • May – September: 10 am to 6:30 pm
  • Mondays and major holidays: closed

How to Get There

The best way to get to the Jéronimos Monastery is to use public transportation as it sits just outside the city centre of Lisbon in the Belem neighbourhood.

Lisbon to Belem is about 5 km and takes approximately 30 minutes. 

  • Tram: Take line 15E
  • Buses: Take 727, 28, 729, 714 or 751 
  • Train: Cascais line

How Long to Visit Jeronimos Monastery

To fully appreciate the Jerónimos Monastery, plan to spend 1 to 1.5 hours exploring its Gothic splendour, history, tranquil cloisters and the Church of Santa Maria.

Nearby Attractions to Jeronimos Monastery Lisbon

visiting Jeronimos Monastery in Lisbon is limestone building with ornate details and tower

Combine your visit to Jeronimos Monastery with some of these nearby top attractions in Lisbon. 

National Archaeology Museum

Since 1893, a small section of the west wing of the Jeronimos Monastery has housed the largest archaeological collection in Portugal. It houses artifacts from the Paleolithic period to the Middle Ages.

Today, the National Archaeology Museum offers two permanent exhibitions, one which is dedicated to archaeological finds in Portugal and Portugal’s heritage, the other a collection of Egyptian antiquities. 

Maritime Museum

The Maritime Museum tells you the history of Lisbon’s and Portugal’s pioneering roles in the exploration of the oceans. Expect to see ship models from the Age of Discovery, old maps showing the world as it was then known, and the plane that made the first crossing of the South Atlantic in 1922 piloted by Portuguese aviators Gago Coutinho and Sacadura Cabral.

Admission to the Maritime Museum is €6.50 or it’s included in your Lisboa Card.

Pasteis de Nata Bake Shop

In 1830, the first sale of Portugal’s favourite pastry was made. Adjacent to the monastery sat a sugar cane refinery and a small general store. A monk offered the sweet pastries, which they had been making for at least a century before, for sale in the shop.

These delicious custard pastries quickly became known as ‘Pastéis de Belém’. The monks agreed to pass on the secret recipe and it has remained unchanged to the present day. You can’t pass by the adjacent bakery shop when you visit Jeronimos Monastery.

Of course, Pasties de nata can be found all over Lisbon, but I thought these were the best-tasting ones. The somewhat long line is worth it!

Berardo Collection Museum

Next to the Jeronimos Monastery, the Berardo Collection Museum. The modern and contemporary artwork on display belongs to José Manuel Rodrigues Berardo, a billionaire entrepreneur, and philanthropist. 

The art at this museum ranges from Minimalism to Surrealism and includes pieces by Roy Lichtenstein, Pablo Picasso, and Francis Bacon. 

The Belem Tower

Tower in Lisbon on river with walkway

The Belém Tower built between 1514 and 1520 is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. Sitting on the bank of the Tagus River, this tower was used to defend the city. It was later turned into a lighthouse and then a customs building. 

I myself did not visit inside, rather I simply admired it from its exterior. The best time to visit without the crowds is early in the morning as I did. The sunlight shines from the east and casts a lovely warm glow on the side of the tower.

As a Holidaymaker

You don’t have to be a history buff to enjoy your visit to this Lisbon monastery.

For more Lisbon itinerary inspiration, be sure to check out my articles to help you plan:

If you would rather take a guided tour, I recommend you check out these articles:

Beyond Lisbon, check out my Portugal Travel Guide page where it’s your one-stop shop for all travel planning resources you might need – from accommodations, flights, train travel and all my articles.